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The Game
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I didn't see it until I was in my fourth decade, what I'll call The Game. It goes like this:

You have the right racial profile (white); you have the correct gender (preferably male, though a woman can marry correctly and stay in the game); you have the right background (old New England Yankee family, DAR, that sort of thing).

Then, you attend the right University (Yale, Harvard, Stanford, preferably--if you don't have the brains but you have the contacts, you're in) and you socialize with the right people while you're there. Pledge the right fraternity, continue in the right academic/social circles. Professional career preferred, though lots of money can obviate the need for any kind of career.

Your friends of course must also be the right people, whether you like them or not. It gets somewhat incestuous, with everybody knowing and being introduced to the same people, in the same social and political milieus.

It's a commitment not just to a lifestyle, but to a Game, where membership is exclusive (and lucrative) and your whole life is pre-defined to wear the right clothes, say the right things, engage in the proper activities, play the right sports, vacation in the right places, live in the right part of town. Life is circumscribed and closely monitored by the power elite.

It's not accepted to have friends outside the "in" group, nor engage in unauthorized activities, nor march to a "different drummer". Certainly not to blow the whistle on other members in the group if they engage in illegal or immoral doings--quite the opposite, you must assist in the coverup.

Kiss up to the boss, agree with him, flatter him, snitch on the underlings. Rubberstamp his decisions; smile a lot. Women have to be prepared to use sex to get ahead, even already possessed of the right education, the ability, and the right connections. You have to be willing to lie, cheat and steal others' ideas.

I remember quite clearly when I made the choice that I did not want to be part of all that, though I had the qualifications to promote to upper management. I'm glad I did; that decision has made all the difference.

I can look myself in the mirror.

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