I'm a city girl and the product of renters, so the idea of property values has always been a little strange to me. Fortunately, devoted partner is a suburban boy and the product of owners, so he helps me with the finer points. Yet, I still find some peculiarities. Home ownership is expensive. Should I buy a house and decide that I would like to paint my asset Mary Kay Cosmetics pink, I will be highly aggrieved should a neighbor take me to court to stop me. Devoted partner thinks the sentiment is sweet, but points out I will probably lose in court.
So, what I'm about to say might come as a surprise.
Yesterday I saw an article in the paper that a former classmate pointed out. For reasons I hope will become clear, I'm not going to link to it. It was not in the paper of record, but it was in a paper with a large readership, so my hopes that it went unnoticed are few. The article was about a parent suing her insurance company for not covering medicine for her son. Before you get all out of joint, health care argument people, this isn't THAT conversation. The medicine in question was for, what I think all rationale people can agree, cosmetic purposes. It served no purpose beyond the superficial.
Fine, you say, blah blah blah, viagra, boob jobs, restless leg syndrome. I hear you. I wouldn't have cared either except that the article described the child not merely by his condition, but by his affiliations. Specifically, he is a current student at my alma mater. To which I am fiercely loyal. The article painted an unflattering picture, to my eyes, not only of the mother who is pursuing a frivolous lawsuit for a ridiculous "condition" afflicting her son, but succeeded in categorizing this family as typical of families who enroll children at my alma mater.
This may well be the case.
I know that every generation is expected to belittle those that follow it and I'm cognizant of that as I write this, but I also know, as in know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when I attended the school, people weren't like this.
I'm not saying we didn't have people who had unnecessary medical procedures, lived decadent lives, or behaved in ways that invited scorn. I'm saying it wasn't publicized. No parent in her right mind would have consented to a tabloid interview like this one.
It. Just. Wasn't. Done.
You can call it hypocrisy that I find it ok to give girls nose jobs for their bat mitzvahs as long as no one talks about it, but I'm comfortable with that level of hypocrisy.
This mother lowered my property values.
Let me explain. I still hold out hope that should I have a child, that child will attend my school. But if this is what that hypothetical child's classmates will be like, the experience has been devalued. By permitting her family to be featured in an unflattering article, this mother has lowered the prestige of the school. While the school has always enjoyed a reputation as being elite, this article casts doubt on what we mean by elite. This woman and her brood are, by their complicity in this article, officially non-elite. If it is assumed that ALL the families at the school are like this one, the school goes from being one that can be held up as an example to one that can be held up as an object of derision (see any school involved in the NY Prep show).
If the school is considered risible, the value of matriculating there is lessened (and let's be fair, the cost to attend is in no way insignificant); if the value is lessened it can be assumed, over time, that the school will not be able to attract the same caliber of teacher - after all the top teachers want to teach at top schools, not those featured on the pages of tabloids or on Bravo. More than anything, I was embarrassed that this woman, in what I assume was a bid to get publicity for her ridiculous lawsuit, made her kid, herself, and her lifestyle look ridiculous. Not because I give a shit about her, but because in making her lifestyle look ridiculous, it made mine look ridiculous too.
The hyperbole of which is that now I live next to the idiot who painted her house pepto bismal pink.
1 week ago