Saturday, May 21, 2005

Alive Again ... Crepuscularly

OK, so it wasn't like DNC news coverage: no staccato updates flashed memory-rich bons mots across the wires every twenty minutes all Reunion Weekend long. And no, no photos have flown up onto the blog to convey at least a taste of the festivities. In fact, it's been a dead blog all week, and for that, I owe the few, the brave, an apology.


I've had a few things on my mind. And any thoughts of conveying all those things via blog call to mind the firehose-as-drinking fountain analogy. That's a tired notion, so I won't bore you by invoking it.

To recap the reunion: It was more fun and more illuminating than I'd expected it to be, and the anxieties were fewer, largely because I just didn't care.

What did become clear to me was that as a teen malcontent who kicked against the pricks and their power structure for three years, I spectacularly squandered an opportunity to line my bed for the rest of my life, a particularly galling understanding given that the whole point of schools like the one I attended at no small cost is to build new nodes onto the power structure at its highest levels. At best, I was a court jester, but not even a wise fool. For all my frenzied, hollow rebellion, I might as well have stayed at home and taken AP classes at a public high school. Wisdom comes with age, I guess. So does death. And secrets.

Learned a lot of secrets this weekend, just as cousin A had said I would. Why my last dorm has been shut down. Why B had sex with M. Why J had sex with everybody. Why R wishes she hadn't had sex with anybody, or maybe just not as many people.

And surprise, surprise, almost everything of interest comes down to sex and money. Re the latter, I learned why Y has no respect for Z (not this Z). Why T did whatever he wanted. (We always knew why D was structurally coupling with T, even if we didn't know the concept.) Why rules were so erratically enforced. And from these bits of data I understand why my own stay was so inconsequential ... even irrelevant. Interestingly, even if I wasn't a brahmin or a scion or a shoo-in or a gridiron star, some of my teachers did bother to care, as a sheaf of yellowed course reports show.

I also learned that my favorite old teacher, now retired, never made as much in a year as one student's full tuition ($8k back then). P tells me that in the wake of a recent scandal at St. Paul's, the world learned that school's headmaster's annual take tops $500,000 a year -- easily more than ten times a student's current annual tuition. As I told Y, who also came to our school as an outsider, when she and I willingly chose to enter that bastion of the WASPocracy, a place that's survived for more than a century by adhering to its rules and its code, we surrendered to those rules, the explicit and the implicit ... even if we weren't aware of all of them. That's why they call it finishing school -- it finishes you off.

There's nothing very surprising about such schools coddling their channels of money. It makes sense. Billionaires build new buildings, as long as their brats stay enrolled. Schools enforce the rules to keep them sharp and effective -- but not so much that they lose revenue. Sacrifice the kids you can afford to lose in order to keep the rest in line. Which is why T could smoke pot in his room with impunity but my ex-pal K was expelled for missing classes and then being caught in a car coming back from a beer run. Which is why apple-cheeked rich stoner A was expelled twice and this past weekend finally received her rehabilitative diploma, but Texas-fried genius R was kicked out (once) for sleeping with his girlfriend and to this day remains persona non grata.

Gee, this is fun, but I have to go tutor the little kids at St. Agatha's.

And yes, there will be photos.


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