October 1998

A little while ago, my friend asked me to go with her to visit one of her friends in Escondido.  As usual, I had nothing better to do and I jumped at the chance to go to North County Faire without my mom insisting on spending hours in J.C. Penney’s.  As we drove through Rancho, I couldn’t help but feel jealous of all the orchards, stables, and pools that each seemed at least four times the size of my entire suburban Del Mar home.  Little did I know that what I was about to experience was to be the biggest wake-up call of my life so far.

When we pulled into the girl’s unpaved driveway, the first thing I noticed was the smell.  A pungent odor of dirt and animal urine hung heavily in the air.  Inside the house lived a menagerie of inbred, underfed cats.  The girl’s chain-smoking dad invited us to sit down and try his barbecued chicken.  I’ll admit it now: I was hesitant to touch anything.  Suddenly, I was back in second grade and this entire house had cooties.  I had to mentally slap myself more than once in order to force myself to accept the family’s hospitality.

I ended up having the time of my life that night.  The three of us ventured to the mall and to Starbuck’s, and even made it back to the girl’s house in time to watch The Simpsons.  And the chicken was excellent.  However, as my friend and I traveled back home, I couldn’t help but feel dirty – not because of the conditions of this family’s house and lifestyle, but because of my own attitude upon entering it.  I realized that I, the girl who had all my life condemned snobs, was one.

How ironic to hate something for sixteen years and then feel the guilt of becoming it.  I’d heard the word “hypocrite” my entire life, loving the way it sounded, but never imagining that it would ever describe me.

Even so, I’m glad that the word left a bitter taste in my mouth.  It’s not very often that one gets to step back and look at herself objectively.  So I’m grateful for the realization of my own hypocrisy.  The truth can be painful, but not as much as premature assumptions.

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