Dating a Privileged White Girl

Her clothes looked expensive. She assured me she didn’t spend much; the Alexander Wang sweater was bought “massively on sale” and under $100; her eyes batted and glistened. “But the shoes,” she said, lifting her foot up as if checking for shit, “these were expensive. I love them.” They seemed expensive.

Olive told me that her high school allowed you to declare a major and pick all your classes. She was undeclared but took a lot of theatre classes. She still wasn’t sure if she would declare as English or Theatre, but she had to choose soon because it was a requirement for first-semester seniors. She had enough English credits to graduate as an English major, but she might be able to persuade the dean to let her graduate as a Theatre major. She frowned a bit as she said this and bounced in place on her toes. “Sorry. Ballet habit.” Then she told me she really wanted to go to NYU for Theatre, but Boston University would be a shoe-in because of family and she could attend for free, basically. She frowned. I was going to go to community college. I was attracted to her.

We exchanged phone numbers and I left before I had a sixth Bud Light. The host thanked me for coming and playing the Wilco song. Olive said we would definitely hang out and gave me a hug. She wore a perfume I didn’t know but the host did. She asked Olive what it was and as I pulled away, Olive winked and said “Commes Des Garcons” with a modest smile. I thought she winked at me, but she was looking right past me. “It’s a limited edition for Opening Ceremony,” she said. The host ooh-ed and came between Olive and me. I walked away taking deep breaths, worried I would be pulled over by Newport Beach police, feeling exhilarated.

We talked on the phone the next day for several hours. She was immersed in things I’d only heard of before, like Debutantes, season tickets to the Orange County Performing Arts Center, new Volvo sedans, Pescetarianism, Whole Foods, art show openings, family alumni in Ivy League universities, famous relatives who were active or once active in the art world, the time her parents almost sent her to boarding school, the time she felt really depressed when her parents were in the middle of the divorce and argued over who would get her, and how much the other parent should pay in child support (Mira wanted Todd to pay $500 more in child support, plus Mira would keep the house, and Todd would buy two new cars for both of them; he only bought one, Mira planned to sue), the ecstasy of a lush terry cotton bath robe in a five star hotel, muesli. She lived with her mother in Turtle Rock, where they shared a brand new Volvo S60 sedan, in dark charcoal.

What did one do at a Debutante party, I wondered. “Ball,” she corrected. “It’s a Ball.”

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  • Olive

    Stop writing about me.

    • ryan

      sorry, olive

  • Chauncey Zalkin

    but you make her seem so flat. she's either repugnant and banal or has dimension. which is it? i'd like to see part two.


    seems a bit too contrived the whole thing. i like the part about the dad waiting for the ice cream to dry before he rubbed it off w his thumb. that was pretty sweet.

    • ryan

      i'm glad you liked that part

  • Molly Oswaks

    Your first conversation with Olive was about how much money she spent on her outfit?

  • pfft

    and then you realise she's american and she can't name five capital cities in Europe and she has a degree but says LIKE LIKE OMG every two seconds in a grating accent.

    can't polish a turd.

    good luck with that then.

  • pfft

    don't ever date a garnish.

  • hi

    i like this.

    • ryan


  • bobby hill

    so, you aren't wealthy, but you are still privileged. all men are. it is called “male privilege.” and i'm sure when you said non-privileged men, you meant non-wealthy men.

    also, i hope that the one time you had sex, the time that she was sloppy drunk and you were clear-eyed and sober, well…i hope it was something she really wanted to do.

    • christopher lynsey

      Sassy ass comment right here.

      • bobby hill

        do you know bobby hill? full of sass.

    • ryan

      duly noted

  • Jack

    When did opiates become mainstream in youth culture? This has me concerned.

    • ryan

      not sure, but they were always available while i was in high school. i feel like they have always been around

  • uhnonnymus

    Just for future reference, a hand on the thigh from a drunk girl is not a sign of “affection,” it's a sign of a intoxication. This story kind of makes it sound like you took advantage of her.

    • ryan

      duly noted

    • courtney

      as a frequent drunk girl, i do not put my hand on just any nearby boy's thigh… i think that was intentional.

  • Rachel

    I really enjoyed reading this. You have a nice writing style, Ryan.

    However, as a crusty old person in her 30s, I think your conclusion is a bit of an over-generalization. Most people tend to end up in relationships with people of a similar socioeconomic status, but it's not unheard of that serious relationships- lasting marriages, etc. happen between people of different backgrounds.

    I hate to say it Ryan, but I think she just “wasn't that into you.” Anyway, it seems like your primary interest in her was fascination at her money and access to things you didn't have, so maybe she didn't feel a deep connection to you because of that.

    • ryan

      rachel-thanks for your compliment and insight

  • Seikel

    I used to live in Turtle Rock. At 19391 Sierra Vista. The high school was right down the way, and we coaxed many PWG's up the hill…

    • Seikel

      Although, really, I never considered it that affluent. I mean, our rent was something like 1800 a month.

    • Lauren

      A Turtle Rock native and PWG myself, I couldn't help but smile while reading this article. It was a trip down memory lane (although I did manage to leave Turtle Rock and escape to another bubble, Boulder, CO).

  • Seikel

    I also worked at balboa fun zone. weird.

    • Seikel

      tripping acid mostly.

      • ryan

        rad. the balboa funzone is a great place to ingest psychedelics

      • Seikel

        you know where you enter turtle rock and you have to go right or left? I decided to go straight once and almost killed myself.. ah memries.

  • saramcgrath

    this was so sweet

    • ryan


  • saramcgrath

    also seems like a 'cool girl'. 'cool girls' are cool girls regardless of their socioeconomic status

  • Shane Leach

    who the fuck are you and why are you desecrating all that is turtle rock?

  • another pwg

    I thought going to Sage Hill meant you were automatically accepted to NYU…

    • ryan

      hehe. in most cases, yes.

  • Jordan

    This is really good. Fantastic debut, Ryan. I'm looking forward to reading more from you.

    • ryan

      thank you

  • Shane Leach

    why do you desecrate all that is turtle rock?

    • ryan


  • colleen

    Thanks for writing this. It's nice to know people share experiences that parallel your own.

  • Jocelyn

    excellent debut. looking forward to reading more from you, ryan.

  • jules

    i dig this

  • Kyle

    nice article, thanks for sharing.

  • middle class boy

    the co-op at south coast has such limited selection…

    also whats up with everyone thinking about money so much

  • Kelley Hoffman

    backstreet girls are cooler

    • Sofia

      no way

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