Pulled In Many Directions

Not-so-daily rambings about my life and my thoughts

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Absolutely Fabulous But Broke

I have no money right now. Seriously. I'm buying a pizza with a credit card! I never do that!

Five days till pay day though, and a three day work week ahead. Not too shabby.

On the plane ride home, I bought a book I thought I wouldn't like, called Prep, set in a fictional New England boarding school called Ault. I have to admit I thought it's be a tale about Muffy and Buffy and Chad, and I didn't understand why it had been so popular and so heavily praised.

The book turned out to be instead about Martha and Lee and Cross, with Lee serving as the book's main character, and Martha being the Girl Who Has Everything But Is Cool Enough To Not Flaunt It and Cross being THE high school crush of Lee's.

I was amazed at how much I liked this book. I'm not wealthy now, I have never been wealthy, and there is a very good chance I will never be wealthy. But I sure as hell understand the malaise that lots of high schoolers go through. I understand the embarrassment that Lee felt with her background cause for me at first, attending Boston University was like being dunked in a tank of cold water. I remember constantly telling myself that I was just as good as everyone else there and I had as much right to be in the classes as everyone else. That I earned my way academically into that school, even if my dad couldn't earn my way in there financially. But I think, also like Lee, the way to getting there, the way to thinking like that, an act of self-preservation really, was something that drove a wedge between my very lower/working class father and me.

There were two scenes in the book that really got me. Granted I was beyond tired after being awake for about a day straight on the flight, by the time I got to the near end of the book. In that part, Lee's parents come to see their daughter for Parent's Day but she is horrified by the way they act, talk and dress. Looking as a detached observer, it's so obvious how Lee's Dad is so harmless. He isn't crass or crude at her school, but certainly a bit gauche. He's definitely proud of her in his own way. But (and this is why I think I was so tired) the one scene that made me so upset was when Lee started flipping out on her parents because she saw her dad had dipped a sugar cookie into his coffee. It was something he had always done and that Lee had always accepted until he did it at her boarding school.

It's weird about class. Because while I think if you come from money and so your children do, there is not much really that you can do to mortify each other. Embarrass, of course, but not so much that you have this weird strained relationship. But if you are a kid trying to have a better life than your parents, it's really damn tricky to not be seen as pretentious for just simply wanting a better life. It's wanting something more than what your own parents have that might be the hard pill to swallow for the parents, cause it's hard to want to move up without even subconsciously saying "Your life isn't good enough for me." I mean, *why* would I want to drink bottled water? Why would I want green stuff all over my pizza? How dare I know what a salad fork is?

The other part that got me sad was really stupid, in retrospect, because it happened when she realized that she would not have anything to do with Cross after high school. And I guess for me it was thinking about my own time as a high schooler, there were quite a few times I had such strong feelings for our school's "golden boys" (the ones who did well at sports and were well liked by everyone and good looking, you know the sort!) one even so much so I had entertained thoughts of going to the university he attended. They did have a good journalism program there, but yeah, I think he subconsciously factored into it too.

Anyways, it's the intensity of these emotions, even if I am not scarred by the fact that nothing ever happened to me with them, and maybe that is why I am not scarred -- nothing happened! -- the intensity of my feelings was so much that even now, there are those 2 guys (I had two!) who I still can't help but wonder about what they are doing now, and while I doubt I ever cross their mind, (and it really isn't *so* often they Cross mine) I wonder what their reaction would be if they were reminded of who I was to them way back when.

So anyways, Prep is one of those books I know I will be taking back with me when I move back to the States. There are plenty of books I have read that are worth the one time only read. But Prep should be worth a second read, even if it's only to take it all in again when I am not so tired or jet lagged. The book reads like Lee's diary, and it's hard to not get so involved with her character, her friends, and the daily goings-on at Ault. It's probably because my own high school days did not have that much pomp and circumstance to it, there is that fishbowl aspect to it. I have come away with the feeling that I could never send my kid away to such a shallow, shark infested place.