Being the good Catholic girl that you are, it is understandable that you made some egregious errors in your column this week, entitled, “Their Dangerous Swagger,” about a group of eighth/ninth graders at the exclusive Landon School for boys in Bethesda, Md., who allegedly hatched a fantasy football plot that used, instead of football players, the names of real girls at sister private schools for the purpose of a planned sex party. Now, it may well be that you are right, and that this was a diabolical scheme. Or it may be that they are just 14-year-old boys who do what 14-year-old boys do.
This is the part of the story that you neglected to tell, and I understand that, because it’s icky. I suggest for your enlightenment you pick up a copy of Philip Roth’s, “Portnoy’s Complaint,” which explains in greater detail than I will, why 14-year-old boys spend the better part of the day behind locked bathroom doors, with either a stack of Playboy magazines, or a cored apple. Almost anything will do. Maureen, as much as you’d like to think or hope that 14-year-old boys long romantically and chivalrously for their 14-year-old princesses, the reality is much different. The sole purpose of a 14-year-old boy’s life is to simply rub out another one at every possible convenience, so as to minimize the chance of the pup-tent effect, when the bell rings ending second-period Algebra class.
Moreover, having been a 14-year-old boy once, I know that age group, when in a group, is prone to turning that hyper -hormone hype into the most dramatic forms of sexual braggadocio imaginable, especially those who’ve never even pecked a girl on the cheek at a spin-the-bottle party.
One would hope that even adults of the fairer gender would recognize this reality, but neither you, nor the lagging Washington Post, which followed up with a similar piece a day later, did.
So, I suspect that something else is afoot. Some other motive in publishing yet another angry Landon op-ed. What would that be?
Landon envy. And who would be most susceptible to Landon envy? Why, of course Landon’s chief rival, The St. Albans School for boys. (I’ll explain where the envy comes from in a moment.) But first, who went to St. Albans? Let’s examine the roll of esteemed journalist/graduates. David Plotz, presently at Slate, formerly a contributor to The Washington Post and the New York Times Magazine who also happens to be married to Hannah Rosin, formerly of The Washington Post. Keith Bradsher of The New York Times, David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post, Bo Jones, former publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, and last but hardly least, Donald Graham, Chairman of The Washington Post.
Now, neither school, nor its esteemed alumni, are immune to scandal. But The Washington Post and the New York Times, on balance, report only the scandals that occur at Landon. To be fair, the Post did report on the sexual abuse scandal that occurred at St. Albans feeder school, Beauvoir, where a teacher had abused students, but this kind of St. Albans criticism is a rarity. Wikipedia makes no reference to anything scandalous about St. Albans or its graduates, but it is chock full of references to Landon scandals. Someone has already made a wiki entry in reference to Maureen Dowd’s broadside against the all-male Landon. It took one day for that entry to be made.
Landon envy might seem a bit contrarian, even pointless, coming from St. Albans. Why criticize a Lexus, when you’re driving a Rolls? In the pecking order of private-school elitism, St . Albans is at the top, literally at the top.
St. Albans lies at the highest point of land in Washington—well, technically, the second highest point of land. First would be Ft. Reno—at 409 feet above sea level. But when you factor in the towering presence of the National Cathedral (a monument to repressed Episcopalian psychopathologies and where Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held in the parish at 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday), St. Albans school for boys towers above everything else.
Because Mt. St. Alban and the heaven-piercing spires of its Cathedral stand so tall, the young male students at St. Albans school for boys—but more importantly their parents who shell out $32,990 dollars annually for tuition—believe that they are closer to God than anyone else in Washington. They are certainly closer than those students at the Landon school for boys in Bethesda, which is non-sectarian or godless, and lies barely a mile from the city’s lowest point—the Potomac River. Also lower than St. Albans is Landon’s tuition, which rests at a paltry $27,811 dollars per year—exactly $5,179 dollars lower than St. Albans. The difference between the tuitions is the equivalent of, say, 10 billable hours of work for Washington’s most prestigious liberal lawyers—who, you can bet, send their boys to St. Albans school.
But the community of St. Albans families comes, not just from the nation’s elite liberal media, and law, but from other high forms of enlightenment, including politics, philanthropy and diplomacy. Their ranks include internet inventor, Al Gore and his son, Al the third; the sons of tingle-seeker Chris Matthews; the son of Presidential castrator wanna-be Jesse Jackson, Chicago-style Congressman, Jesse, Jr; and the facebook-famous son of Tim Russert, Luke Russert.
The Landon School, on the other hand , culls its young charges from a different breed of parent—from the suburban wasteland. Landon’s campus was in fact at one time a farm, where real dung was shoveled. The Landon parents and their sons have included (I’ll not name this man to protect him from shame) the host of the Maury Povich Show; a well known syndicated shock-jock (I’ll not name this one either to protect his identity) from the Don and Mike Show; war mongering generals and admirals from the military and Department of Defense (to hell with high-minded diplomacy) , big time car dealers, (You get your way at Ourisman Chevrolet!) even a society gynecologist who, unbeknownst to parents, so freely dispensed birth control pills to his many teen patients at the all-girls Madeira school (another prestigious Washington area private school)—that one of them wrote the doctors name and telephone number on a Madeira bathroom stall door with the inscription, ” For free birth control pills, call Dr. X$&!*^&$!”
There is another key difference between the parents at both schools. St. Albans parents reside exclusively with the city limits of the District of Columbia, specifically within about a ten-square block area of the District known as Chevy Chase, D.C., with occasional exceptions for nearby Cleveland Park and Woodley Park . For them, there is no way any civilized human being could live anywhere else. After all, sporting Maryland, or God forbid, Virginia licence plates on one’s Range Rover would be akin to wearing a wooden barrel with suspenders at a debutante ball. It just isn’t done. In addition, claiming residency in D.C. allows St. Albans parents to vicariously support, in a liberally compassionate kind of way, District policies, including support for D.C. public schools, with its graduation rate of about 50%. Yes, those compassionate St. Albans parents truly support public schools, as long as their kids don’t have to set foot in one.
Landon parents, on the other hand, live in the suburbs of Chevy Chase, Maryland—not Chevy Chase, D.C. – but Chevy Chase, Maryland. While just a stones throw from Chevy Chase, D.C, the Maryland side of Chevy Chase is, unfortunately, that much closer to the real America, closer by only a mile or so, but closer nonetheless. Closer to its Walmart stores, Monster Truck shows, mullet hair-cuts and T-shirts that shout out in capital letters, “I’M A DICKY DO!” with smaller letters than read in parentheses: “My belly sticks out further than my dicky do!”
It will come as no surprise to you then, that Landon boys and their parents are a bit defensive about those refined city boys at St. Albans. But … they have an ace in the whole.
That ace in the hole is the single reason that St. Albans envies Landon, despite all these advantages of prestige and societal rank. It is lacrosse. The preppiest of all preppy sports. The sport that The Post and The Times hate! The domain of young studs with flip flops, khaki shorts, untucked polo shirts and baseball hats on backwards, not all of them murderers, as hard as that may be for Maureen to believe.
“LANDON DON BEATS ST. ALBANS IN LACROSSE” is the headline that reluctant editors/ St. Albans dads at the Washington Post have been forced to live and die (mostly die) vicariously by, again and again through the years. There was one exception, a few years back, when the tables were turned and St. Albans managed to beat Landon. You should have seen how big the Post headline was on that day!
And these editors, as close to God as they may be way up on Mt. St. Alban, can’t change the fact of these routine losses. Like the Miami Dolphins field goal kicker who missed the game winner in ” Ace Ventura,” this is an anger that is seething, and building, among the St. Albans community and no amount of learned diplomacy from daddy or mommy at the State Department can relieve it. The vengeance and fatwah-ness (Does the Episcopal Church issue Fatwahs anyway?) trumps any achievement in later life.
So the Episcopalian fatwah took shape this way. The angry-at-Landon parents called you, Maureen Dowd, at the New York Times with the goods about the latest shenanigans at Landon. And what better columnist to carry this jock strap of a story than you—a born and bred Beltway insider. Native Washingtonian. Pristine, feminist Catholic school girl. The type that favors the St. Albans high and mighty cocktail party crowd. She of the book, “Are Men Necessary?” This is just all too rich! Can we page Dr. Freud of that one , please?
And naturally, because the journalistic inferiority complex of so many Posties pertains to only one publication—the one Maureen works for, the Post follows up with its own story one day late, as usual.
And what of that story itself? The fantasy sex party never happened. It turned out to be a more elaborate version of teen sexting—but without the sex! Hello Maureen? Hello Post? Are you listening?
Oh never mind! Like so many Washington tempests in-a-teapot, this will likely end up in a courtroom. Lawyer vs. Lawyer. And how much you wanna bet each sides legal team has a son that plays lacrosse? One at Landon, the other at St. Albans.
Anchorman a well-known news anchor from a top-10, big city station. The Daily Caller has elected to redact his identity to protect his anonymity.