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Day One of “True Prep”

Like many preppies, I run on my own Lisa Birnbach Time (LBT), which is a casual approach to timekeepingLike many preppies, I run on my own Lisa Birnbach Time (LBT), which is a casual approach to timekeeping, to say the least. There's no such thing as 1:00; there's one-ish. For example, I believe I was supposed to start this blog yesterday, on Labor Day. But no one reminded me, and by the time I knew for certain, it was just too late. (So went my application for a Fullbright Scholarship. C'est la guerre.) (Sigh.) This is why not too many preppies go in for airport controlling jobs or managing the Swiss train system.

I must say I'm a bit humbled by the people who've been writing, posting, and blogging (I don't know the difference between any of these) who seem to have been awaiting True Prep. (I hope they have remembered to eat dinner now and then and feed their dogs once in a while.) The book comes out today. It kind of feels like a real event, at least to me.

And I know you mean to be polite and don't want to ask me any intrusive questions, so here we go: I have not been hiding under a rock, in a cave, or been kidnapped by wandering ____________ (fill in the blanks). I've been home, raising my three children (or trying to; it is hard work), writing school plays, even writing for television, hosting a radio talk show, and walking safety patrol. (I have safety patrol today. TODAY! So help me. I have to don a Day-glo orange mesh vest (TTFW) over my Brooks Brothers ensemble today and walk the walk. With a walkie-talkie, no less.)

Just because I've been lying low doesn't mean I haven't been preppy.Just because I've been lying low doesn't mean I haven't been preppy. Here's a list of some of the things I've done since you last heard from me. (When was that, by the way? You could have written to me too, you know. Just saying. It's reciprocal.)

I had the children. I bought them all cotton clothing. My first was a boy, but you might not have been certain from seeing the lovely, rounded Peter Pan-collared onesies I put on him. I taught the children table manners. They Never Text At the Table. And I'm very proud of that. (They don't always wash their hands before meals. Note to self: Must do some remediation there.) I tried the book club, but when I went to work hosting a daily talk show, I was on the air from 9–noonish (actually 9:06 to 11:57 am), when the ladies met, talked, and drank. I summered on the Vineyard, made new friends, and life has been good, and also hard, and sometimes sad, and sometimes exhilarating.

I'm a giver. You'll see more of that as the week goes on.

Hope your Day One is a smash.

÷ ÷ ÷

Lisa Birnbach still wears her father’s tennis sweater, her grandmother’s pearls, and flies coach. In the last thirty years she’s been busy in old media, but she managed to meet Chip Kidd through Facebook.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World Used Hardcover $4.50

Lisa Birnbach is the author of True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World

7 Responses to "Day One of “True Prep”"

    lizt September 8th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    The whole concept of "preppie" seems incredibly dated and old-fashioned to me now. Does anyone actually still follow this style?

    tomr September 9th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    lizt ~ WHAT!?! I almost dumped my whole Perrier on my new chinos...and did dribble a bit down the front of my pink polo shirt (collar flipped, of course). Thankfully "Preppy" never becomes old-fashioned. As long as Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, J Crew and LL Bean (to name the more notables) continue stocking the racks, Preppy will always wave its madras flag of sustainability among the various fads and passing frenzies of the Jo-Bros and Justin Biebers. Are you even trying to pretend that you haven't recently purchased your new ribbon belt? I mean really, does proper etiquette (like never wearing white or seersucker after Labor Day or always taking the opportunity to drop a thank you note in the mail for meaningful line calls) ever go out of fashion? I'm just saying that we should be cautious in writing off Prepdom simply because the johnny-come-latelys seem to have been excluded from the original, life-changing movement. :)

    monkeywomantoo September 9th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    true......prep??? this has zero relevance on the west coast.
    it's like you're speaking a foreign (and super dorky) language.

    lizt September 10th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    tomr--lol...finding a group of preppies is a bit like finding a remote tribe in the Amazon. You know they exist but the world has moved on...:)

    John Sepehri September 10th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I am a 38 year old Gen-Xer. I truly LOVED the original. I still have two copies of it, including a special hard case edition. But just as in the realm of film where sequels are often a disappointment, Lisa Birnbach's sequel to her 1980 "Official Preppy Handbook" is a huge letdown. It is not nearly as funny or well organized as the original. It lacks sufficient illustrations and visuals. Also, the print is tiny and it crams too much into too many pages. The last straw for me--the book is politically correct prep at its worst. For one thing, it took gratuitous pot shots at President George W. Bush and obviously fawned over Obama. Additionally, Birnbach writes that President Reagan's election was improbable. Huh? The Gipper won 40 states against Carter, and 49 states in his 1984 reelection. Indeed, the conservative Reagan era zeitgeist probably contributed mightily to sales of Birnbach's original book. Thanks to Ms. Birnbach for ruining great feelings about one of my favorite 80s cult classics. Republican preps need not purchase this book. In sum and in preppy parlance, this book is not key.

    Margot September 20th, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I was so very disappointed with True Prep. The first book was a parody, of course and we knew it but it out into black and white the code which dominated our lives. This book is simply ruined by political correctness or diliberatley misses the point. The point of the PREP style is good taste, good manners, good education (the best you can get!)Money, whether new or old, is used in advancement of good taste good manners and education live a good life.
    This book suggests that money, education or financial success alone makes a PREP- not true!
    Some huge errors- The Obamas are NOT prep. except for the occasional JCREW cardigan on Michelle neither has demonstrated a bit of prep style- Mom jeans on him, glitter gucci sneakers on her- slogan t-shirts on the girls No!!!
    even if you love em- that doesnt make them PREPS! Another whopper- shooting hoops is prep. Not on this planet.
    The peolple who stole the croc made it huge plastered it everywhere and gave it sparkels are not preps just because they started with the croc! The 6 inch polo pony is ironic at best but garish at worst and certainly garish when done in rhinsestone. Prep is never garish- that is the whole point.
    And don't even get me started on the muslim chaplin at Brown. Seriously?
    Sorry Lisa. I thought you got it, I really did.

    Elizabeth September 28th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    As a general rule, if you don't have anything nice to say, well, I can't take it anymore, so here I go... My disappointment is palpable. I re-read TOPH before I read True Prep and was anxious for some updates as life has moved on and some paragons of prepdom have fallen from grace, ie., Coach products, etc. I have to tell you, it's not Tory Burch. Sorry, but trendy is not prep. In fact, it so far misses the point as to be laughable. Would you keep your Tory Reva flats until they wear out and then have them resoled? Heavens no, you would throw them away and that's not prep. While we're being so thoroughly brain washed by obvious corporate sponsorships (BB, VV, etc.)and political correctness, we forgot all about Blundstones, Hadley Pollet belts and shopping online (because we still hate the mall). The bottom line is this: The prep manifesto is that we go for quality, whether it's an education, a stone house, a European car, clothes that are well made and last forever, or a good stiff drink that always tastes just right. Things are passed down to future generations and older is always better than newer. People who appreciate these things ARE still out there, the author apparently doesn't come into contact with them very often.

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