Home > The Fortunate Ones

The Fortunate Ones
Author: R.S. Grey


This is the last outfit I would ever choose to wear, but it’s not my choice to make. It’s my work uniform: a skintight blue polo paired with a pleated khaki skirt that cuts off much closer to my crotch than my knees. Combine that with an embroidered baseball cap and gleaming white Keds, and I’ve become everything I hate in in this world: a country club cabana girl.

My name is embroidered on the shirt in a scrolling font. Above it sits the club’s pretentious logo, a laurel wreath hugging the Twin Oak initials. It hasn’t changed in 50 years, and that’s just the way the members like it. Old money likes old things—except, of course, when it comes to the elite amenities in a place like this. Here, they want new, bigger, better. Acres of perfectly manicured lawns. 18 holes of world-class golf. An Olympic-sized swimming pool with all the kid-friendly accouterments any day-drinking lacrosse mom could ask for. From what I’ve seen, there’s a members-only spa, formal dining room, and gentlemen’s cigar lounge. Beyond that, there’s no telling what else lies within the grounds of Twin Oaks. The scope of my job really only entails access to the pool and main clubhouse. Aside from that, I’m not particularly encouraged to roam.

When each member arrives, they drive through a bougainvillea-covered arched iron gate guarded by no less than three men at any given time. The level of security strikes me as overkill, as if the architects envisioned lower-middle-class hordes crashing through to get their first taste of crab legs. But, then again, I’m not dripping in diamonds like half the women here, so whatever. If Julio, Matt, and Nico make them feel safe, that’s great.

The truth is, their only real talents are scanning ID cards and kissing the asses of wealthy members, like this guy.

“C’mon beautiful, give us a little smile.”

I want to ignore him. I’m focused on the sleek black Porsche driving up the tree-lined drive. In a minute, it will pull into its designated parking spot between a white Mercedes SUV and some other car that costs more than most houses.

“Are you being shy darlin’?” the asshole asks, trying to get my attention.

His guests laugh and I know my time is up. I won’t get to watch him get out of his Porsche today.

With a barely concealed sigh, I turn away from the drive and beam my pearly whites. The old fart claps his hands together and pulls out his wallet. Members pay for things at the club with their assigned ID number, but tips are usually doled out in cash. Every dime is supposed to pass through the cabana bar so it can be divvied up at the end of the day, but after schlepping back and forth around the pool all afternoon waiting on Mr. Oil Tycoon and his merry band of buttkissers, the crisp hundred-dollar bill he hands me feels more comfortable inside my pocket. Later, it will buy me takeout sushi and enough wine to drown this memory.

“Brookie, have I told you you’re my favorite cabana girl?” he asks, making a show of plucking another Benjamin from his wallet. “I like your…work ethic.”

I can’t argue with that. I am extraordinarily focused while I’m here, not because I care about this job, but because I’ve found that staying as busy as possible makes the shifts pass in a flash. No matter if Mr. Oil Tycoon asks me to slice two hundred limes so his board of directors can do rounds of tequila shots (my wrist is still recovering), rub sunscreen on his meatball head (my hands haven’t felt clean since), or entertain his children while he and his wife get completely sloshed (c’mon kids, let’s play roll silverware)—I’m going to do it all with a big, fake smile on my face.

I take the second bill out of his hand and dispense some version of the pleasant bullshit I’ve become remarkably adept at conjuring. My toolbox now includes a girlish laugh, a giddy thank-you, and a nauseating “Oh you.” I worry that someday I might slip and tell him to go screw himself, but from the looks of his saccharine stare, I’ve managed to hold off for at least one more day.

He dismisses me with a wave of his hand and I turn back for the cabana’s bar. I’d like to take this moment to clarify that on my own time, I’m not a show dog, but here? At Twin Oaks? I have yet to encounter a situation that tests my dignity beyond the promise of a tip, and of course, the members take advantage of that knowledge. They want us at their beck and call, and our management encourages it. Anything the guests request, make it happen. If that means serving virgin daiquiris to spoiled brats until they puke, I’ll do it. If that means pouring mommy’s little cocktail into a Styrofoam cup so she can take a roadie with her, so be it. It’s all part of the job.

When I make it back to the bar, I stuff the second hundred into the tip jar because I’m basically as generous as Jesus, except instead of turning water into wine, I turn misogyny into money. Also, coincidentally, I don’t think I can stuff any more cash into my pocket without it becoming conspicuous.

I take off my Twin Oaks Country Club baseball cap and hang it on the back of the door then salute the poor schmuck who has arrived to relieve me. She’s new, Cari or Cara, something like that. Behind her, Will and Kyle are manning the kitchen. Compared to the main dining room, the fare out here is simple at best: chicken salad sandwiches and fresh veggies, hotdogs and hamburgers for the kids. They do a pretty good job of it though, and I gratefully accept a club sandwich to-go. There would be no more freebie deli delights if they knew how many tips I keep for myself, but it’s only fair. They get to listen to music and chat in the safety of the bar and kitchen while I’m stuck out there with the wildlife, trying to keep all my limbs intact.

“See you tomorrow?” Will calls from behind me.

“Nope. I have the day off.”

I try not to sing the words.

He groans in annoyance, but I can’t even feign sympathy.

It’s going to be magnificent. I’m going to sleep in and go for a run, job search for a couple hours, and revel in the real world, where people carry Target purses instead of Birkin bags and children have to follow rules. At Twin Oaks, everyone is well connected. That little boy nearly drowning his sister in the pool right now? His mom is a senator. The teenager pouring vodka into her Sprite? Her dad owns half the commercial real estate in Austin. Nothing is scarier than a teen with powerful pedigree, and I steer clear of them as I weave around the pool and head inside.

The main clubhouse is referred to by most of the staff as The Manor because the sprawling two-story building looks as if it’s been teleported from the English countryside. Symmetrical, ivy-covered, and old enough to harbor some pretty juicy secrets, it’s a building I’d like to take out for a drink. Large, square windows line the first and second floor, and in the center of the limestone facade sits a massive porte cochère where guests can opt to leave their cars with a suited valet before swooping through the main entrance.

I’ve made the short walk from the pool to the clubhouse more times than I can count, but it’s still exciting to pull open the heavy doors and step inside the foyer. Beneath a large coffered dome sits an antique marble table, there for the sole purpose of bearing a dramatic floral arrangement that gets changed out every morning. Today it’s made up of a dozen cylindrical vases of varying heights. There are orchids and garden roses, hydrangeas and peonies. The guests in front of me breeze right past it without a second thought. I shake my head, walk around the table, and stroll down the large hallway that leads past a pair of bathrooms and a private lounge. Beyond lies the main dining room, the real gem of the clubhouse. In that room, the ceiling opens up, reaching heights that could rival any cathedral. Windows stretch across the back wall from floor to ceiling, showcasing the manicured gardens and the par-three eighth hole of the golf course.

The dining room itself looks as if an old French monarch rose from the dead and demanded that the entire room be decorated in an opulent shade of blue. There’s plush wallpaper, starched table linens, and heavy drapes, all ranging from royal to robin’s egg. My favorite detail is the pale blue and cream damask velvet that covers the antique French dining chairs. It’s completely impractical. I can’t imagine the cost of upkeep over the years, but the chairs are beautiful and I’d take one home with me if I could get away with it.

This room is where I spend the other half of my time at Twin Oaks. If I’m not stationed for a shift out at the cabana, I’m perched behind the hostess podium for the lunch service. That spot is currently occupied by my older sister, Ellie, who’s watching me with a smirk as I approach.

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