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social class

social class
never applied to me until
the first weekend
I went home with my college roommate.
the contrast between us
was more dramatic than I had realized:
where we had John Deeres, they had
a Mercedes, a Cadillac, a Viper, two Audis, a Harley and a BMW.
she had her own bathroom and one of those vanity
dressers with the lacy wraparound skirt
that was an optional accessory for my first grade Barbie.
everything about her family announced
their rank in society
from the Japanese lanterns along their front walk
to the way her father slid his credit card out of his wallet
to pay for another steak dinner.
for the first time I really understood my place
because I knew I would never bring her to Vermont,
let her see our peeling kitchen linoleum
and cars without power windows.
I was equal parts proud of and embarrassed by
the cow pastures and milking parlor,
pretending to enjoy being different but wishing
we had money.
I wanted to be upper middle class,
silver utensils and golden future

18 November 2002