My wardrobe screams “hobo” but my father is worth $100 million

Illustration by Ariel McGee

*The Backdoor is a “work” of “fiction” and “satire”

By Lauren Keegan

As college acceptance season is upon us, prospective freshmen flood the Lewis & Clark campus to scrutinize every aspect of the school in order to determine if LC will be the jumping off point to the rest of their miserable lives. On numerous occasions this spring, these plucky cherub-faced high schoolers trot up to me and ask if they can buy me a meal, or inquire where my cardboard sign is. I chuckle and exclaim, oh my sweet summer child! I am but one of many LC students who dress like a wanderlust hobo, but do not be fooled, my father is worth $11 million. This ethically questionable portrayal of self is a one-way ticket to fitting in at LC. How do I justify this abhorrence, you ask? The methodology is rather simple.

I do most of my shopping at the Goodwill bins. When choosing a new article of clothing, my rule of thumb is: the more holes and musty smell it has, the better. Millions of Americans need to shop at Goodwill because that’s literally the only thing they can afford, but I do it because it goes with my #aesthetic. I love appropriation, especially when I don’t even know I’m doing it. Gone are the days of Paris Hilton’s “Stop Being Poor” tank top, the tides have turned. Being privileged isn’t cool right now, so I hide it in head-to-toe Patagucci and claim it’s secondhand. In reality, I bought it with my credit card, for which Daddy pays the bills. I spend my checks before the ink has even dried lest any of my peers know how well-heeled I am.

I’m sooooo broke right now, but I just HAVE to buy these $6500 VIP backstage pass tickets to the hot new music festival Clorpshompenfest to see my favorite indie music artist King Semicolon and the Betsy DeVoses. I can always use Daddy’s card or just sell one of my gold ingots to the Federal Reserve, they could really use the help. I still splurge every now and then on spa treatments, like praying mantis forelimb acupuncture and fire ant chemical peels.

When Daddy talks about how well his shares in various stocks are doing, I just sigh and roll my eyes. How unenlightened! All I want in life is to drink trendy “raw” collected water while Flint, Michigan still lacks potable water, and live that #vanlife as millions live in mobile homes in the U.S. and subsequently suffer from formaldehyde poisoning. I’m very connected to nature; one time Daddy took me on one of his hunting trip and the cooks prepared a pheasant roast. He pays for all my College Outdoors trips too, and makes sure I have a brand new pair of hiking boots for each one.

Listen, I know I’m privileged in the most superficial and least self-critical way possible. I counteract my privilege by arguing that all people should have the same privilege! Communism may have led to tens of millions of deaths, but it’s just never been done correctly before. As a trust fund baby with an intimate familiarity with capitalism and all the wonders it can bring, I love to mercilessly criticize it and dream of a world where its eradication has been realized, blissfully unaware of what that would entail for my personal set of privileges.

But trust me, I know hardship. I had to get a partial scholarship for my sophomore year at Bellarmine Prep. It was subsidized by Daddy’s company, but I still had demonstrated need according to Daddy’s head attorney. We aren’t hurting per se, but it did take us longer than expected to pay the mortgage on our second ski cabin.

I identify with being poor in the same way Rachel Dolezal identifies with being black: I have pretty much no right to. Am I a gentrifier? Probably. Does Grandpapá gain pride from this? Also probably. Am I the worst kind of person? Yes. However, my actions don’t even matter because I’m one of so many on this campus that have this privilege. Bon meals are just a circle of my friends pretending that they don’t know what the Dow Jones is and comparing overalls, simultaneously drinking and mispronouncing Guayaki Yerba Mate. Sometimes Bon food sucks, but it’s okay since I can afford Uber Eats every night. We truly are a Trojan horse of privilege!

Am I worried about post-graduation plans? No, not really. I think I’m going to dick around in Fiji for a couple years while my liver still works and commit a few hit-and-runs. By then I’ll be ready to waltz my way into managing Grandpapá’s hedge fund. All he does is sling back whiskey neats and yell out numbers while pounding his fist on a large mahogany table, so I think it’ll be pretty easy.

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