Thank You Notes and Threadbare Rugs

Tad Friend, author of Cheerful Money:  Me, My Family and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor (Little Brown and Company 2009), in an interview with WETA’s Bethanne Patrick on her show The Book Studio, answered the question of what is to endure in Wasp culture, given its decline:

Thank you notes.  That’s about it.  That is the vestigil appendix of…of Waspdom, I think.  Thank you notes.  Uh, and actually, what endures, at least in my family, is furniture from a hundred, two hundred years ago, books from the same era, rugs that are quite threadbare, but are still around.  You don’t…I mean the old sort of joke, slash truism is that, you know, you don’t buy rugs, you have rugs.  You just keep the things that you have.  So until they positively wear out and would be, you know, no one would even want them on eBay, you’re going to keep all those things around.  Uh, so furniture…I mean it’s actually sort of a long tale.  It’s like a long, slow decline.  It’s, you know, the money is mostly gone, but there’s a little bit of land left.   There are a few houses here and there…that are falling down…and some heirlooms, and a sense that you ought to aspire to these old, uh, systems of achievement that are now much harder to achieve because other people have come in, very happily, and are now…are doing way better.  And, we are just kind of looking on in puzzlement from our sort of petting zoos in Bar Harbor  and Jupiter Island and sort of, ‘how did that happen?  Woah.

For related culture and behavior, read my post:  Preppy 10 Commandments – Episcopal Style.


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