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It became an almost toxic resentment for no clear reason: on the whole, she was a lovely, grounded person, who worked a campus job, earned her own money, and lived within her means as much as any college student.She was kind, and generous, and aside from the car (which I later found out had been purchased used from a friend specially for her 16th birthday), she made no blatant outward displays of her wealth.My issues came to a breaking point when I went with her to her family's Thanksgiving celebration in Philadelphia.We drove there in her car, and my nerves about meeting her parents and fitting in with people so far above my self-perceived situation hung over us like storm clouds for the whole trip.Not only can they not pick up guys in bars for fear of appearing on Page Six, they can’t shop online without knowing that somehow their profile will mysteriously appear on sites like Gawker, which will mock them mercilessly.Or even worse—as in the case of Paula Zahn’s millionaire husband, Richard Cohen, who was caught using to date and dump women after telling them they were his “soul mate”—their dating peccadilloes and seemingly bad behavior also might be chronicled by the city’s tabloids.That car -- a tiny black stick-shift Audi TT -- came to encapsulate the best and worst parts of our relationship.
Meanwhile, the bulk of mine was covered by the generous need-based aid program and loans.During my time there, I developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder about that economic chasm, although it was never something that prevented me from being friends with anyone. I didn't have a car at school and my parents only lived about two hours north.It was kind of a don't ask, don't tell scenario -- aside from those who really flaunted their upbringings, most people were assumed to be on roughly the same privileged page. Part of me was just as excited as she was -- but another part, deeper down, was turned off by the fact that someone had been paid to deliver a luxury car to her on her parents' dime.There are blogs, endless newspaper columns, and television shows devoted to the hapless single lady looking for love.But the ladies in the top financial tiers have an even bigger problem.
I teased her about her childhood cotillion training, sure, but I was really just terrified that I would make some terrible, low-class mistake and embarrass myself.