With Friends Like This…

by admin on October 26, 2010

A while ago, one of my friends, Laura, introduced a new girl, Tracey, into our group. Initially she seemed nice and funny. After spending some more time with her, though, I realized she was often rather unpleasant, making snide comments about people she didn’t consider to be her equal. It should be noted that Tracey is lucky enough to come from a very privileged background. I only mention this because of the importance she placed on this – comments such as, “I have to marry a rich man, because I will never earn enough to keep me in the comfort I’m used to”, were, sadly, not uncommon. I was also very unimpressed when she snubbed my boyfriend upon meeting him, and when she made a list of upcoming society events, with a corresponding list of names of people she could hit up for invitations to said events. No big deal, it’s a big group, it was easy for me to avoid her. Laura really liked Tracey, and was very impressed by her background, so would usually invite her along to everything. I therefore ensured that if I wanted to spend time with Laura, I would just organize a one on one event, coffee or the like, so she wouldn’t feel the need to invite Tracey. I’m sure Laura knew my feelings towards Tracey were on the cool side, but we never talked about it, and all was fine.

Now, one of the people Tracey would make snide comments about was Laura, and Laura’s family. I found it revolting, but it was so subtle that it was difficult to tell whether she truly realized how hurtful she was being, and Laura always laughed it off, so I never said anything. However, recently Laura told me, almost in tears, that she had been spending time at an event with Tracey and Tracey’s friends (who are from similar backgrounds to Tracey) when they began discussing whose families had holiday homes, and where. Tracey turned to Laura and asked her, apparently not very kindly, how many houses Laura’s family had. Laura was mortified, not only because her family doesn’t have a holiday home, but also because this was an exact repeat of what had happened only a few days previous. Yes, Tracey had orchestrated the exact same conversation, to deliberately try to embarrass Laura about her family (and no, Laura should not have been embarrassed, of course, but she is young and as I say, was very impressed by Tracey). Yes, they are still friends, despite the fact that they are not equals – Laura has far more grace and class than Tracey.

I was disgusted, I just thought that was cruel, and very catty. Still, I probably wouldn’t have submitted, but a week or so ago, I saw that Tracey had posted an open invitation to her birthday party on Facebook. I don’t think I will attend, for many good reasons, including the fact that the invitation is entitled “Celebrate Me!” and “jokingly” suggests, “If you don’t know what to get me – cold hard cash is a winner!”. Yuk. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me. 1019-10

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Mimi October 26, 2010 at 5:05 am

Money can’t buy class as you can plainly see from Traceys actions. It is ashame that one must put another down to make themselves feel better.

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josie October 26, 2010 at 5:35 am

I don’t have a Holiday home either but I do have manners, class and grace. Guess Tracey would do well to learn those. I wouldn’t consider a Facebook invitation to be a personal one and would feel under no obligation to attend. And really, why would you want to?

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Bint October 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

What an absolute cow.

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Maryann October 26, 2010 at 5:48 am

Wow. It’s really pretty sad that anyone would want to be friends with Tracey. Maybe if they all dropped her as hard as she deserves, she’d get the message that being around her isn’t cause to celebrate at all.

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Typo Tat October 26, 2010 at 6:00 am

Honestly? Laura probably has her own agenda for staying friends with someone like Tracey; the way Laura is described being impressed by Tracey’s background (rather than the girl’s own qualities), certainly suggests that.

There’s probably a lesson in all this, about knowing who your real friends are, or something…

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Sazerac October 26, 2010 at 6:45 am

Tracey strikes me as a very insecure young woman with low social functioning who feels the need to tout her privilege and use it as a bludgeon on others to ensure that no one can outstrip her in whatever race she is setting for herself. Tracey’s behavior is both catty and tasteless, and sadly, pathetic. Laura would do well to distance herself from this person, but only she can make that decision.

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Jen October 26, 2010 at 6:46 am

Apparently it is true…money CAN’T buy you class.

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NotCinderell October 26, 2010 at 6:57 am

Young people who act superior to others because they were born to wealth are obviously insecure. Laura should have smiled and said, “just one,” when asked that question. Because it shouldn’t matter, and the people to whom it matters are people who, themselves, don’t matter.

Not all wealthy people are like this, either. I have a friend who was born into a wealthy family, and his problem is that he wants all his friends to join him at events that we can’t afford, so he offers to pay our way. It does make us uncomfortable sometimes, but he means well.

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SamiHami October 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

I have to wonder why Laura would put up with this nonsense. If someone made snide comments about my family, they would be picking up their teeth from the floor.

This story proves what we all should already know (and apparently Laura needs to learn): money does not buy class.

Hey! My birthday is a couple of weeks away! Maybe I should throw a “celebrate me…gimme cash” party; I didn’t know that really worked on anyone.

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Daisy October 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

Tracy sure sounds like the worm in the apple of friendship, but Laura needs to learn that no one can put you down unless you let them. When asked about her family homes, she could have said “Oh, dear! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten already that we had this conversation last week. My mother says that’s the first sign that you’re getting old!”, and then smiled brightly and asked somone else what they were currently reading. Do this a few times, and I guarantee Tracy will find someone else to play her nasty games with.

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Another Laura October 26, 2010 at 8:33 am

This is the sentence that bothers me:
Yes, they are still friends, despite the fact that they are not equals – Laura has far more grace and class than Tracey.

I’m not upset with the OP about this; rather, I’m concerned that this has little (if anything) to do with Laura’s “grace” and more to do with the fact that Laura knowingly continues to give her friendship to a person who purposefully puts her down in front of other people (multiple times!) and makes her cry. Perhaps there is an underlying problem for Laura that she seeks out this sort of unkind person? A person with true grace would politely exit this “friendship” and spend more time with genuine friends, such as the OP seems to be.

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Giles October 26, 2010 at 8:42 am

I’ve encountered so many people like this, it’s not funny. Our kids both went to private schools; we’re very well off but not old money by any means, and they both got scholarships for academics every year which helped. Parents and kids alike could be disgusting sometimes. You should have seen my oldest’s prom; tickets were $70 per person! I’m sure my daughter was the only one wearing a dress under one thousand dollars (she found hers on sale for $170 and I think it was the best-looking and least skanky one in the room).

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DGS October 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

In my experience, therein lies the difference between the nouveau riche (i.e. dubiously acquired wealth that often comes along with living beyond one’s means and an enormous amount of credit card debt, such as “The Real Housewives” crowd, and the like) and the genuinely established rich who never lord their money or anyone’s else’s over anyone.

One of my dearest friends from college is closely related to a very prominent, wealthy and well-known East Coast family that has produced several presidents, senators, etc. She is one of the most pleasant, warmest, most inviting and least entitled people I’ve ever met. If you had met her, you would never know that she comes from a lot of money, and it was not until we were friends for almost a year that I had the slightest clue what kind of family she came from (the surname is common enough for her to have been a namesake), and when I did found out, I was simply impressed with how gracious, kind, and thoughtful she is, not with how much money she has.

However, another woman that I happen to know, also from college, was just as entitled, spoiled and snide as the woman OP is speaking about – she always name-dropped, brand-dropped, counted up “her” money (which wasn’t really hers, since she earned not a penny of it, but simply the money that her father had made owning a car dealership and intimidating every other car dealer in town with his mob-connected friends) and was very disparaging of those of us who came from more humble backgrounds.

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Patti Purcell October 26, 2010 at 9:33 am

Wow, what a brat of a supposed friend. Looks like she is the totally Insecure one. I would have answered , Our family likes to travel to many places, so we don’t like to be tied to one home.

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Lee October 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

I went to college with a girl like that. She was from all kinds of money, fancied herself a fashion queen, and never seemed to catch on that those of us from working-class backgrounds weren’t impressed with her stepdaddy’s money.

Just goes to show that money can’t buy you class.

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AS October 26, 2010 at 10:44 am

Tracey seems like an awful person, but I’d hold Laura responsible for allowing Tracey to walk all over her and yet be friends with her. As you said, Laura is still young. She probably does not understand very well what is going on. When I was young, I used to think that privilege background teaches you manners – thanks to some people that I knew; but I realized later that that is not always the case. Why don’t you, OP, as a good friend, try to discuss with Laura what you think about Tracey? Laura is probably a bit insecure too, which is making her stick with Tracey. Some encouragement might help her and ending the friendship will surely save her a lot of heartache.

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Psyche October 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

*Why* is she friends with this woman?

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Louise October 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

Another Laura makes a very good point: Laura doesn’t stay friends with Tracey because she has more grace and class. I think Laura has low self-esteem if she stays friends with someone who openly mocks her.

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Mother of a Bride October 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Ugh. Snobs annoy me. My older 2 went to a more elite elementary school even after we moved out of the boundary for that school, they still attended. MOST of the other parents were gracious and kind when they came to our modest old farm house, but one mother stands out. She was the sort of person who had in insanely expensive oriental rug as her welcome mat–where you wipe your wet or muddy feet. Her house was over the top lavish and her daughter was an elitist little snot, but my girl loved everyone, so she was trying to be her friend…for a while. When we invited the girl over to play her mother arrived, walked into my simple little home and immediately had her snobby nose in the air. “Oh, THIS is where YOU live? How did you get into OUR school? You mean they LET you stay even after you moved to THIS neighborhood?” And on and on. Ugh. I was insulted, but didn’t tell her off because I felt it would be just as tasteless for me to call her a snobby B— as if was for her to act as though we were the white trash trashing up her elite school. Her daughter was never allowed to come to our house again (the mother had a thousand excuses) and declined any further b-day party invites too. We didn’t take it personally though, people like that lack the capacity to understand a family like ours makes sacrifices to do what’s best for the family. Being a stay at home mom was more important to me than living in a fancy house on the hill, so we bought a small farm house that we could afford on my husband’s income, and fixed it up. That snobby woman would never understand the concept of “sacrifice”

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Patty October 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

It is unfortunate that Laura willingly subjects herself to such abuse. Perhaps the next time (and there will be a next time you can be certain) Laura comes to the OP in tears due to this troglodyte the OP can gently suggest that cutting ties with Tracey in favor of spending time with true friends would be a better idea.

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A October 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Tracey seems like a pretty sad character to me. She doesn’t even believe that she will be successful enough to keep her in the comfort she’s used to? That says a lot about her true confidence level.

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boxy October 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Laura wouldn’t be hanging out with Tracey if there wasn’t some kind of payoff. Perhaps she believes if she pals around with this abusive friend some of her wealth will rub off? Perhaps she is very insecure, and like a woman who can’t leave and abusive man, sticks around hoping her friend will change?

Either way it’s sad. Laura has a wonderful friend right in front of her who wants to be with her, however, she chooses the negative relationship instead.

I think I’ve done this too. Maybe that’s why it’s so sad.

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Tina October 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I was always under the impression that people who are truly wealthy don’t discuss such things. It’s just uncouth. Tracey sounds tacky.

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LovleAnjel October 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I agree that Tracey’s actions show a deep-seated insecurity. Perhaps she knows her “friends” are judging her, and are only her friends because of her wealth.

Laura seems to be a sort of psychological masochist for continuing to engage with this social group.

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Lisa October 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Honestly, both Laura & Tracey sound like very insecure people.

Laura obviously has self-esteem issues if she continues to be friends with someone who treats her this way.

And this:
“I have to marry a rich man, because I will never earn enough to keep me in the comfort I’m used to”

How ridiculous to think, as a woman, that your only path to monetary success is to marry rich, rather than be a successful person and earn a salary yourself.

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Brenda October 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Many years ago, I worked in a department store in an area that had a neighborhood of very wealthy people. Old money people were almost always friendly, kind and gracious. New money people were almost always rude, short-tempered and even abusive. Money does not grant class. Tracey is a prime example. Unfortunately, the way society seems to encourage this behavior means that it will continue.

Laura is young and can be forgiven for believing that money makes you special, but it seems that, despite her treatment by Tracey, she has not learned that being rich does not equate to class. Let’s hope the OP can help her learn this, without little further pain, by cutting Tracey out of her life completely, and helping Laura do the same.

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Wink-n-Smile October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm

For some reason this reminded me of the movie Metropolitan, where a young man, who used to be part of the rich group, but had moved down the financial ladder, due to his parent’s divorce (all the group were college students who had attended the same prep school), and he hung out with the rich kids, even though he disapproved of capitalism, in general, and the upper-class borgousie, in particular. People might wonder why he would hang out with them, and I think Laura’s reasoning is similar – if she’s part of the group, she gets to go to the cool parties. It doesn’t cost money to attend the parties, beyond paying for the clothes to wear, and transportation to get there. And you never know who else you might meet. (It’s a great movie – I highly recommend it.)

Perhaps Laura and Tracey are both looking for rich husbands, and Tracey is Laura’s ticket in, so she’ll stick with Tracey, as long as needed to achieve that goal.

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Princesssimmi delivers pizzas for a living October 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Wow. I’ve never been friends with anyone who has a lot of money- I dated a guy once who’s parents were millionaires but he was so drug-addled and useless that he had no money, drove his mother’s car (drove it onto the wrong side of the road and nearly killed us both) didn’t have a job, and expected his parents to pay for everything. The LOVED me because I’m of the same background as them, smart (selective high school, I got there with my own brains, my family are poorer than poor) and because I was a good influence on their son. Unfortunately, after 6 months of not being able to have a conversation with him (too damaged from all the drugs/alcohol), him sleeping through our entire vacation (I’m not kidding, he slept 16 hours each day, and only woke for meals which I cooked) and him nearly killing us I decided to go my own way. They hate me now.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t burden yourself with unsuitable people, whether they are nasty like Tracey, physically abusive, or just plain emotionally draining- choose friends who make you feel good about yourself and make sure you make them feel good about themselves. My friends have never made fun of me for working two jobs, one of which is delivering pizzas for minimum wage, because they understand that it’s a job that I love and it helps me pay the bills. They make sure I’m eating properly and that I’m sleeping enough, and that’s what matters. Not money.

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Sharon October 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

There are people like Tracey all over the place, and there are people like Laura who trail along after them. They are kind of the same type of person… impressed with material things.

Mature, intellegent, self assured people are not impressed with designer labels and cost of possessions.

The OP seems to have chosen to not befriend Tracey and is doing well, Laura still hanging around with Tracey, and is in tears. The lesson here is, being rude hurts people. Being hurt may cause you to cry. Rude people are to be avoided. Seems easy to figure out to me.

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Shoegal October 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I think all this talk about new money/old money is leading to a lot of interesting assumptions. I know lots of ‘new money’ millionaires who are the nicest, most down to earth people you will ever meet – I also know some insufferable ones. Same with old money families. Snobbery and entitlement can be found in all classes, I think.

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Maryann October 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm

@DGS:

“…the genuinely established rich who never lord their money or anyone’s else’s over anyone.”

I’m sorry. I hope you’re kidding. I really, really do. If you’re not, I was raised in a home that would be a major reality check for you.

My mom is a service worker. To be more specific, she’s a housekeeper. As a teenager, I often helped her in her work.

There are plenty of “nouveau riche” who worked hard and honestly for their money and see no one as greater or lesser than themselves and treat others with respect. And then there are plenty (plenty plenty plenty lots lots lots) of old money trust fund brats who were raised to believe they are the center of the universe and that someone like my mom is a half step above their personal slave.

I would ask you to kindly take my word for it when I tell you that if what you have stated is your experience, you need more experience on this matter.

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DocCAC October 27, 2010 at 12:05 am

Too bad Laura doesn’t have the self-confidence to tell Tracey bye-bye. She surely realizes real friends don’t treat you like that once, much less twice. Frankly, classy strangers don’t treat someone like that. I’d love to hear Laura’s excuses (sorry, “reasons”) about why she doesn’t she doesn’t dump Tracey. Tracey will only learn manners (if then) when she gets treated by some of her ritzy friends like she treats Laura.

I’ve been there, had it done to me and dumped the “friend”. I would have dumped my cousins that treated me even worse, but I settled for being classy myself and making their classlessness all that more apparant. Good Etiquette can be its own reward/revenge. :-)

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Rebecca October 27, 2010 at 1:26 am

Some people are just very impressed by money. I have friends with lots of money, and friends who are broke. But I am not impressed with people who are impressed by money.

I’d have been tempted to reply to that Facebook invite (and its the request for cash), “I hope you’re all right, Tracey…..have you fallen on hard times? I didn’t know you were so strapped for cash that you needed to hit up all your friends.”

(Of course though, I wouldn’t have had the nerve).

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Bint October 27, 2010 at 4:18 am

Thank you, Shoegal, exactly what I was thinking. You can find disgustingly snobbish, entitled people in old, new and no money, for goodness’ sake.

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Hellbound Alleee October 27, 2010 at 6:06 am

Maybe Laura should ask her, when the “Holiday Home” is mentioned, how many homeless people her family has helped.

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DGS October 27, 2010 at 8:57 am

@MaryAnn,

Your mother sounds like a lovely woman. She would certainly not be classified as nouveau riche, which is a term reserved for people like the ones described in the OP’s story. There are plenty of people who grew up poor and acquired wealth who are gracious, but those are not called nouveau riche. There are also plenty of established people who are affluent who behave abhorrently, and those are generally called boors. However, those who are wealthy, appropriately educated and well-raised/well-mannered do not lord their wealth over anyone, which was the point I was making.

Regarding my experiences, you do not know me and have no idea what kind of experiences I may or may not have had. I suggest refraining from generalizing about them in the future.

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Bint October 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

“There are plenty of people who grew up poor and acquired wealth who are gracious, but those are not called nouveau riche.”

Yes, they are. Nouveau riche = new rich. It’s a direct translation from the French. People who have newly got money. This is exactly what you describe above. Whether they’re boorish or not has nothing to do with it. You can call someone nouveau riche without being rude about them, just as you can call someone ‘old money’. It’s a straight description.

People who use the term ‘nouveau riche’ in a derogatory sense are actually repeating the old aristocratic prejudice/assumption that this group had money but no grand lineage, and were therefore boorish, socially lower etc.

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DGS October 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

@Bint – sigh…I’m aware of the literal translation of the term. The deragatory meaning of the term is, while having generated as an old aristocratic prejudice/assumption, the way that the term may be used in modern American English.

Here’s a direct quote from Wikipedia (not necessarily the world’s most reliable source but adequate enough for this discussion, I’d think):

Nouveau riche (French for “new rich”), or new money, refers to a person who has acquired considerable wealth within his or her generation.[1] This term is generally to emphasize that the individual was previously part of a lower socioeconomic rank, and that such wealth has provided the means for the acquisition of goods or luxuries that were previously unobtainable. The term can also be used in a derogatory fashion, for the purposes of social class distinction, to describe persons with newfound wealth as vulgar—lacking the experience or finesse to use wealth in the same manner as old money—persons from families who have been wealthy for multiple generations. Other terms such as “parvenu” or “social climber” may also be used.

Here’s another quote from Dictionary.com (posting hyperlink):

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nouveau+riche

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Enna October 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm

How unclassy, uncivilsed, rude way to behave – would want to add stronger words if Tracey had bad table manners. Tracey wants to marry a rich man? Well there are some rich men who will marry gold diggers but they can be attracted to younger gold diggers when their current trophey wife/gold digger gets her first grey hair, wrinkle or has too many birthdays. Also there is something calle a prenuptial agreement – if she marries for money she could end up in an unhappy marriage or leave with no money.

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Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm

From “The Happiest Millionaire”
“Though the nouveau riche deny it, all their money cannot buy it. Class will out, goodness knows, but there are those.”

Spoken by an old-money grande dame who was having a verbal catfight with a nouveau riche grande dame over the marriage of their down-to-earth, classy kids.

Money is immaterial to manners. But just try convincing greedy people of that.

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Alexa October 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm

We don’t know that Laura isn’t tagging along with Tracey at Tracey’s expense. Sure, Tracey might be a bore, but Laura could be putting up with her for the perks, which wouldn’t make her much better. I’ve known a few people who’ve done something like that.

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Bint October 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

DGS – there’s no need to sigh. I explained it because maybe not everyone does know that, not because I assumed you didn’t. We’re not the only people on this board, after all.

Also, saying ‘There are plenty of people who grew up poor and acquired wealth who are gracious, but those are not called nouveau riche’ makes no sense when your next post quotes the definition “a person who has acquired considerable wealth within his or her generation” before admiting there it can ‘also’ be used in a derogatory sense. You’ve just denied your own assertion. They may not be called nouveau riche by you but they clearly are by enough people to be a dictionary definition, hence posters pointing out the unfair generalisation.

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The Cat Whisperer October 28, 2010 at 10:39 pm

And the reason your friend Laura chooses to associate with Tracey is…..????

At some point, when someone treats you rudely/are mean to you/make you the butt of their snide comments or cruel jokes, you have to be willing to end the relationship. Laura needs to grow a spine and decide that she does not deserve the treatment Tracey is giving her and end the “friendship.”

A point this situation brings up: when you encounter a person who makes snarky remarks about other people, who cuts down other people as a means of making themself look “better,” who behaves with meanness, spitefulness, and ill-will, you need to understand that this person will treat YOU that way if they feel it serves their purpose. So even if they are completely charming and sweet as honey to YOU, their bad behavior towards others tells you that they can and will treat you badly too if they feel justified.

For this reason, people who behave with anything other than courtesy and consideration towards others should never be advanced from the “acquaintance” category into the “friend” category. No matter how many vacation homes in the Hamptons, or in Lake Tahoe, or on Hawaii, they may own or be heir to.

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Wen October 31, 2010 at 11:35 am

@Daisy ~ Amen, girl! VERY well said;)

@Tina ~ Ahhh…the truly TACTFUL don’t brag!! ;)

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Wen October 31, 2010 at 11:41 am

@Catwhisperer ~ Kudos!! Your sound advice sounds like my friend, Steve Arterburn & Dr. Phil,
rolled into one! ;)

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Wen October 31, 2010 at 11:48 am

@Sharon & CW ~ Points SO well taken! The alluded-to definition of a real-life BULLY!!! Which, sadly, has my full attention, as our 16 y.o. son is currently a target of a few bullies’ wrath, @ school! They come in ALL shapes & sizes, huh? :(

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Wen October 31, 2010 at 12:13 pm

@MotherOfABride ~ Ugh! I’m so sorry this happened to you! :(

In spite of the unfortunate circumstance, I see a few silver linings:

1. Sounds like you were amidst a powerful teaching-moment, for your daughter, by the way you chose to conduct (or NOT conduct, as the case may be) yourself, in the face of such a snobby & pretentious woman. You, clearly, took the “higher ground” by choosing not to respond, therefore refusing to engage or play in her twisted game! This is a lesson that will, undoubtedly, go a long way w/ your daughter! ;)

2. Despite how “elite” & snobby the other daughter is, my gut tells (hopes??) me that she may likely grow to resent her mother’s ways, provided she has a few voices in her young, impressionable life, that are LOUDER than the negative voice of her own flesh & blood! Here’s to hoping, anyway… ;)

Job well done, Mama! ;)

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Mother of a Bride November 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

@ Wen

Both of my daughters attended that elite elementary school, but by the time they were in 6th grade we had all tired of the snobbish behavior of some of the other families at the school. Not ALL families were that way, but enough of them were that when given the opportunity to transfer them to the elite middle and highschool we declined. They ended up meeting some awesome and down to earth friends who didn’t care that we had an old remodeled farm house. Our oldest girl is “marrying up” to a wonderful young man who comes from a more priveleged background, but he’s so sweet and humble and that’s a testament to the hard work his parents put in to help him understand that just because they have more doesn’t mean that you brag about it or make others feel bad about it. When my son entered school we avoided the elite school and while we’ve had difficulties at his school, the break from the snobs has been nice.

About the daughter of the snob—like mother, like daughter.

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Wen November 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm

@MOB ~ Good for you! ;) Sounds like your kids are being/have been raised by 2 good, grounded parents! I applaud you! ;)

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