I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to hate Claudia Schiffer. Elle Macpherson too, for that matter. Both are neighbors of mine. Not that we talk. I once got a half smile from Claudia, but the sun might have been in her eyes. I occasionally pass Claudia as we both walk the school run. She is with her nanny who is pushing her double stroller down our street. Her kids go to nursery at the church on the corner, across from my building in Notting Hill. My son goes to an international school at the other end of the block. Our paths cross on the mornings that she accompanies her children. The thirty-six-year-old supermodel is disgustingly perfect. I’ve never seen a bad hair day. Typically her gorgeous locks (apparently naturally blond) are pulled back in a youthful pony tail and even without a bit of makeup, her creamy complexion appears flawless. We both have similar attire on usually: running pants or something sporty, indicating an impending workout once the kids are dropped off. But somehow, her running shoes and running pants look stylish and trend-setting—while mine appear old-ladyish or worse, like a leisure suit or track suit that I actually wear all day.
I commented to my husband that I see Claudia a lot and guess what he is now considerately doing for me? He’s volunteered to take our five-year-old to school each morning, you know, for “bonding” time. I no longer have to look at Claudia, except when my husband’s out of town and I get the school run duty. How thoughtful of him!
Last summer, as I was rummaging around our garden in Notting Hill, one of my neighbors struck up a conversation. Her children were running around with my son, so we did what most moms in the garden do, we sat down to gossip. She began telling me how her best friend is at her wit’s end. Her tone is quite serious and I immediately suspect that her husband is cheating with a twenty-four-year-old secretary, or some sort of similar mischief. But no, I am completely wrong. The German couple, whose children go to the same nursery as Claudia’s, got invited to stay with the supermodel in Germany for the opening of the World Cup games. How exciting, I think. Then, it dawns on me: “That poor woman.”
Just earlier that year, her husband couldn’t take enough time off from his hectic investment banking job for a family vacation and now, suddenly, his calendar frees up.
“Her husband is SO excited. He has told everyone in the office and has become a hero of sorts with all the men there. He has also sent his wife off to an all-day spa where she’s getting the whole works. He’s sparing no expense on clothes for her too. Can you imagine?” she whispers conspiratorially.
No, I can’t. Because no matter what this middle-aged mom does, she will never be Claudia Schiffer. She won’t even come close. For an entire week, her husband will have the opportunity to look at Claudia, seated next to her, then look at his beloved wife, and compare the two. He’ll be fantasizing about Claudia, no doubt for months, perhaps years to come. Imagine the way he’ll describe her to his colleagues at work. It’s tragic.
Yes, some of you may sigh, poor Claudia, how will she ever make girlfriends if no one wants their husbands around her. But ask yourselves, would you? It’s one thing to be friends with attractive people—it’s another thing, altogether, to hang out with a supermodel.
And this comes from someone who usually is fairly confident. I mean, I lost most of my baby weight. I can still fit into my sexy jeans and when I accompany them with high heels and wear my long hair down, I can sometimes pass for someone five years younger. But somehow, the “yummy mummy” title that my husband likes to call me no longer fits. It just seems silly in this neighborhood where thirty-six and forty-two-year-old supermodels live—supermodels who defy gravity and the rules of aging.
One of my friends has enrolled her son at a well-known school in Holland Park where Elle Macpheson’s children go. She says it’s amazing how involved the fathers have become with the school functions. (Not terribly shocking as Elle is now single!) Elle’s former boyfriend, a real estate magnet, purchased a mansion beside ours last year and is renovating it. (We merely rent one flat in our building; they planned on living in their entire four-story mansion.) My husband was so sad when they broke up. You’d think he knew them personally. He didn’t say so, but I suspect he hoped to glimpse her more often—or at least be able to brag about who his neighbor is at the office.
Me, on the other hand? Somehow, I haven’t shed a tear.