Monday, March 31, 2008

What High School Did You Go To?

A little over a year ago, my parents and my younger brother moved to Saint Louis. One thing they found surprising was the ubiquitous question, "What high school did you go to?" Sometimes it's even shortened to, "Where'd you go to school?" which most thinking adults would think was a question about college.

Why all the interest in high school? Well, no one has admitted as much, but my suspicion is that it's an easy way to find out your socio-economic background, which then, in Saint Louis thinking, completely informs everything about you. Why get to know you when I can ask one question and find out that, several years ago, my dad was slightly richer than your dad, meaning I can look down my nose at you and gossip behind your back?

I read this retraction in yesterday's Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and noticed that one of the news-worthy items needing correction was the fact that the woman actually attended Parkway West High School, which is a pretty snooty public high school in a pretty well-off part of town. But I'm sure when she finally goes to jail in connection with her four outstanding (not in the "Dogs are outstanding!" sense of the word) warrants and her falsified driver's license, some fellow inmate will ask, "Where'd you go to school?" and she'll say, "Parkway West," and the other inmate will apologize for deigning to speak to her.

(PS: What do you think of when you hear the word "deign"? I think of the sense "thinking it fit for your station," which means it has a high and a low, but I think sometimes people only use it as a synonym for the word "condescend," which only has a low meaning. Here I meant it in the high meaning. Any thoughts?)


Cristin said...

deign = condescend (that's what I think)

That's weird about the high school question. I would be like, "Uh, do you want to know my elementary school too?"

JT said...

I went to Granville High School. It was important in my area of Ohio to be associated with good high schools. I graduated with 92 people (my senior class) and as of right now 5 have PhDs and 7 have JDs. It sounds really odd if you aren't from there, but it was very important that you went to the right high school. I still have a lot of pride for my school even though it isn't the same now.