Extract: “Playing the Field”

February 15, 2010

“Playing the Field” by Zoë Foster ($32.95, Penguin) is sassy, scandalous and based on the lives of WAGS. Get hooked with our favourite extract right here!

‘Ball-breaker. Absolute ball-breaker.’

As we sat around a balcony table at the pub where Paola liked to eat
before matches, she and Lou were commenting on Melinda’s more
elegant personality traits. Steph and I listened with amusement.
‘And I’m sorry, but if you gonna wear some tiny leetle skirts to
the futball in the winter, don’t sit outside and say, “Iss cooold, iss
so cooold.”‘

‘I know! Oh, and did you hear her giving it to Morgan last week?
Told her to go back and sit in her original seat because the boys
were losing and it was bad luck for her to keep moving around!’
‘True?’ I asked in disbelief, and then surprise at the fact I had just
replaced ‘really?’ with ‘true?’, which was one of Lou’s favourites and,
to my mind, had always been slightly bogan.

Lou went on, nodding, wearing her signature ‘amazing but true’
expression: brows up, lips pursed.

‘I feel sorry for Ryan, the poor bastard. What about that time he
passed out in the back of a cab, so the cabbie dropped him off on
some random street, and he fell asleep in the grass, and she thought
he deliberately didn’t answer his phone all night and was cheating
on her, so she threw all his shit into their pool and then leaked it to
the bloody papers!’

No wonder Melinda and Tess got along, I thought to myself.

‘She makes the rest of us look like angels,’ said Paola, trying to get
the attention of the waiter to order another bottle of wine.

‘Ahh, God bless the mad bitch,’ said Lou, shaking her head and
taking a sip from her glass.

I’d noticed the phrase ‘God bless her’ was thrown around a lot
amongst the girls. It always followed a session about someone, as
though it wiped clean all the gossiping that preceded it. By saying
‘God bless her’, you were absolving yourself: See? Even though I just
performed verbal terrorism, I’m not a bad person.

‘So, Lou, those sexy knickers you buy work?’

Lou rolled her eyes. ‘He fell asleep on the lounge.’

‘Kidding me!’ Paola said, outraged. ‘Everyone thinks that this
boys, oh, they so fiiiit, and oh, they so seeexy and so maaaanly, but
really they is just granpas!’

Steph and I giggled. I took a sip of my white wine, which had
been ordered by Paola because the other two whites available tasted
like ‘the cat’s pissing’.

‘Although to be fair,’ Lou said to the table, ‘I’m not exactly gagging
for it most of the time. Wait till you lot have kids – I’m always
so buggered; last thing I want to do is shake my tits in the hope of
a quickie. Nick’s never around anyway, so by the time he comes
home, plays Hollywood Dad and undoes all the good work I’ve done
in just twenty minutes of couch-jumping and ice-cream, I’d rather
kick him in the dick than put it in my mouth.’

We laughed, shaking out heads. Why did Steph so badly want
the ring and the kids, I wondered? Didn’t sound that enticing to
me. Lou seemed to be basically raising their kids alone; Nick was
always away or training.

‘Jimmy’s lucky to make it till nine,’ said Paola. ‘And he’s tired,
always so tired. Especially with his ankle. Actually, comes to think
of it, during the off-season he won’t leaves me alone, but when he’s
playin’, forget it.’

‘And of course the last thing they wanna do is make love after a
day of running around and beating each other up, ‘cos they don’t
have the energy,’ said Lou. ‘But they gotta service their women
sometimes, or we start looking to the mailman! Ain’t that right,

Steph cleared her throat.

‘Actually, um, Mitch . . . Mitch goes okay.’

There were 0.06 seconds of silence before Paola erupted.

‘Ooooh-hoo-hooo! Look at choo! All smug ‘cos you gettin’ lucky!’
she teased.

Like grenadine flowing into a tequila sunrise, a deep shade of red
poured into Steph’s face. Please don’t ask me next, please don’t ask
me next, I willed. I really don’t want to discuss my sex life. I don’t.
‘What about you, Jeanie in a bottle? How’s Foxy?’

I couldn’t have been more uncomfortable if Paola had asked me
to slip on a pair of underpants that had been smothered in a coat of
honey and then dipped into a nest of small, angry fire ants.

‘Everything’s fine with us,’ I said, burying my face in my wine,
hoping the conversation would be drowned by the liquid trickling
into my mouth. But when I emerged, the three girls were staring at
me with the kind of expectation that should follow a sentence like,
‘Did I ever tell you about the time I slept with David Beckham?’
‘Fine? Or fantastic?’ Lou said.

‘Come on, Jeanie. Everyone’s been dying to know how Josh goes.’

‘Yeah, come on, Jean.’ Even Steph was joining in now.

‘Guys, I’m not gonna talk about Josh like that.’

‘Oh, don’ be so boring,’ snorted Paola. ‘We’re all friends here. All
go through same shits. It’s bonding.’ She grinned at me, raising her
brows up and down quickly.

I looked around at the girls; I guess she was right. I wanted to feel
like I was one of them. And they’d all said something about their
men. I looked around at each of them before speaking.

‘Put it this way’ – I paused – ‘I’ve trained him up nicely.’


Zoë Foster (pictured) is the bestselling author of “Air Kisses” and “Textbook Romance”, a dating guide co-authored with Hamish Blake.

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