By the time I got to high school, however, I had given up on my boarding school dream and instead wanted only to go somewhere smarter, not farther--Francis Parker or Northside College Prep would've sufficed. My parents were amenable to switching schools, but having misperceived the problem to be that my high school's mediocrity would diminish my college chances, proposed only the solution of moving to Wilmette and sending me to New Trier. The real problem was actually more immediate--my classmates were idiots--and while New Trier might've alleviated it somewhat, I was convinced that it would only spawn other, possibly more unpleasant problems. At least where everyone is dumb, I could be comforted by delusions of my own brilliance. I foresaw no comforts in being poor or friendless (I was blissfully ignorant of how the same story might play out at Parker). So I stayed put, but daydreamed about alternate realities.
It was only in college then that I finally realized what I had missed: this.
Horace Mann has always been a pressurized place, the junior division of New York’s elite. Parents of current students include former governor Eliot Spitzer, Hillary Clinton pollster Mark Penn, fashion designer Kenneth Cole, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. But the Internet has added a new kind of pressure. For Horace Mann, this new reality emerged in the winter of 2004, when an eighth-grader e-mailed a cell-phone video of herself masturbating and simulating fellatio on a Swiffer mop to a boy she liked, who in turn forwarded the clip to his friends. In short order—as these things inevitably do—the video popped up on Friendster for millions to view. “Swiffergate,” as the scandal became known, roiled the Horace Mann community.Horace Mann also happens to have an extensive classical language program. Phoebe dismisses elite private schools, but when taken together with these absurd tales of wealth gone wild, I have to conclude that I would have loved Horace Mann. I could watch my classmates do such phenomenally idiotic things as masturbate w/ a swiffer while studying the ethical dative in Greek. Then, after graduation (and acceptance into an elite university, obviously), I could go on to write an expose of my school, complete with details about P. Diddy's and Kenneth Cole's children. It's pretty much a win-win situation, unless I were to succumb to the pressure to snort coke or make videos of myself doing uncouth things with cleaning supplies. But, since I would presumably be a scholarship student, I would be unable to afford narcotics and smartphones, allowing me to avoid many of the temptations of the children of wealth without even having to internally debate their merits. A win-win-win situation, except I'd still be poor and friendless. But that's three wins compared with two losses.