Thursday, August 5, 2010

Frost and Country Day

In 2003 Rhonda and I were in London, and took a day trip out to Bath to see the Roman ruins. While there, we met a couple from home, and if you've been in Louisville for any amount of time, you know the first question they asked us.

Louisvillians think it's charming, this "where did you go to high school?" business. But for those of you who are here from out of town, here's the scoop: it's the question that people 40 and up ask around here to determine the social class of someone they've just met. Trinity and St. X, Sacred Heart, Eastern and Ballard--those are the correct answers if you want to be listened to at any time during the rest of the encounter. If the President had gone to Fairdale, Shawnee, Valley or Doss, nobody in Louisville would attend the inauguration.

Class prejudice is a nasty American practice, primarily because we're supposed to be this melting pot where this kind of bias doesn't happen. Disturbingly, it crosses ideological lines as well: not just the Republicans are guilty, but Democrats and university leftists. And it's particularly endemic in Louisville.

So out-of-towners (and all of you long-time Louisvillians with a sense of mischief and chaos): next time someone here asks the poisonously charming question, try answering with "middle school at Frost, high school at Country Day". It'll send their heads spinning, and they'll emerge from rotation assuming your family won the lottery when you were 14. Because in Louisville, as in the rest of the USA, class = money = class, and until we move past this obvious situation, we cannot approach the goodness and egalitarianism for which we praise ourselves.

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