Saturday, October 23, 2010

True Prep Book Review - "n/a" Not Applicable

To be a "True Prep" or not to be... this is neither the question nor the answer. As a matter of fact, Prep is "n/a", no longer applicable. Society is a smaller place as we have grown into an international world, not a "New Old World." This hardback novel is just not as novel as the first trade paperback.

Of course, original preps still have a few L.L. Bean pieces in their wardrobes, the pearls, whale cords in the closet and the "Wellies," but since the first book 25 years ago, good fashion has evolved into haute couture designers at a deep discount with new stores like H&M and Target carrying this classic fashion. Faux and discounted Armani, Chanel, Heremes and Louis Vuitton are all now available on the Internet.

Dotted with buttons of wisdom by Edith Wharton throughout the book, Lisa Birnbach gave the impression she just wants to be THE "Etiquette Lady." She also gave the impression in her video that only preppies know their etiquette, thus, are the only group of persons with manners. To my students, I always say "One does not have to have money to have manners."

Regarding the vantage point for her information collected for this book, it took Ms. Birnbach until page 72 to mention the South. She spoke cleaverly about FFV's (First Families of Virginia) and King James I, but then she proclaimed Middleburg, Virginia, as the mecca of the Southern "gay horsie crowd." Pardon me? She thinks Middleburg is the South? Also, because it is a different world, 25 years later, in trying to be all inclusive and all politically correct, Lisa Birnbach comes across as all proliferating stereotypes.

Ms. Birnbach did mention Hamden-Sydney College as "The Preppiest college in the United States." Her travel tip section and frugal "Do's and Don'ts" were funny, as were the few tried and true photos with maps and descriptions of why, what and how things are in the preppie world. Nice to know sometimes, some things never change. However, the catalogue of her "Prep Pantheon," was something out of 1952 and the people were 99 percent North Easterners.

In 2010, the "True Prep" lifestyle of the private boarding school, Junior year of High School in Switzerland, college with the Junior year abroad, then a societal debut at the exclusive country club no longer posesses the same 'Tra la la' allure it once posessed. "True Prep" neither guarantees happiness in life nor success in the real world.

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