Sunday, January 26, 2020

Piper Weiss' YOU ALL GROW UP AND LEAVE ME: A Manhattan Private School Teen Obsessed with Men

In her New York Post piece, Piper Weiss summed up the story of Gary Wilensky well:

[56-year-old] Gary Wilensky was a popular tennis coach on the Manhattan prep-school circuit, well-liked by students and parents alike. Piper Weiss was a [14-year-old] student at Chapin, the all-girls private school on the Upper East Side. She was taking private lessons from Wilensky in 1993 when he attacked one of his students [17-year-old Jennifer Rhodes] in a failed kidnapping attempt and subsequently killed himself in a scandal that rocked the private-school world. In her new memoir, “You All Grow Up and Leave Me” [...] Weiss writes about the abduction and its aftermath.

But Weiss' memoir adds some intriguing and relevant details, one of which is hinted at in the subtitle: "A Memoir of Teenage Obsession". 

Weiss confessed in her memoir that not only was she obsessed with Wilensky, she was jealous of Rhodes:

I wanted it so much when he was alive, but even more now that he is dead. I know I'm not supposed to think this. I know he did a bad thing. There was a cabin with chains inside it. [...] I knew they had to do with sex or violence or both [...] He picked her and now she matters. Everyone wants to know what she has to say and how she feels because he chose her. She matters and I do not.

Weiss raised an issue that was similarly related in Anne Rice's Belinda. Weiss wrote:

The private in private school means just that. It is a class distinction. Ours is the world others want to expose, and it must be closely guarded. [...] Privilege is based on secrecy. Our parents know what others want to know, and so do we. Privilege comes with a certain trust that if broken results in the loss of such privilege [...] 

However, like Emily Jane Fox, who shared in Born Trump: Inside America's First Family, that Ivanka Trump and her 8th grade classmate flashed a hot dog vendor from the Chapin's third floor window, Weiss shared some secrets from the Manhattan private school world:

In the eighth grade [...] We took Latin and algebra. We read Romeo and Juliet. We drew on our legs [...] and cupped the soft underside of another girl's breast in the locker room.

Weiss wrote about her 9th grade science teacher. She shared that she was advised to flirt with him for a better grade, because it was easy if he deemed a private school coed to be a "sexual creature":

He has difficulty looking students in the eye, I think, out of fear that his thoughts might be heard. The year has just begun and it is already clear whom he favors - the girl with the see-through skin [...] When she speaks in class, he flares up with an allergic crush. Anything she says is very good

Everybody knows he has pets and they are an undeniable type - long-limbed girls with billowing horsetail hair who are soft-spoken [...] When I found out he was my teacher this year, a junior told me to flirt with him for a better grade. It is believed to be that easy if you are a sexual creature in his eyes [...] 

Piper Weiss
Just like the Manhattan prep school coeds in Nick McDonell's national bestselling novel Twelve, Weiss swallowed pills as a teen: 

My mother's bottle of Valium, for when she flies, is in a cosmetic bag underneath their bathroom sink. (I swallowed three.) 

All through my teen and twenties I would scavenge her room when she was away, rifling through cabinets for old prescriptions, jewelry boxes for stale weed [...]

Weiss got the part in a TV movie, but her mother wouldn't let her act, because: 

It was a movie about a man who loves a little girl. That sounded okay, I told her, because some men are nice and some little girls are wise and, I imagined, sometimes they could be friends. 

Apparently, one of the popular girls on the all-girl private high school campus had a "breast-first swagger" and Weiss shared a sexually charged rumor about her that was based on her short stature: 

There was a rumor among certain private school boys that I give blow jobs standing up. 

As if the private school kilts aren't short enough, Weiss and her classmates had a habit of making them shorter: 

Bianca and I are halfway to school and our rolled-up skirts are riding up our waists. [...] The teacher's ruler to our kilt hems, the assessments of our clothing as "too short" and "too tight."

On a related note, Weiss wrote that her classmates opined that their young bodies were currency: 

Our currency is our bodies. We have what others want, what they feel they deserve. [Consequently] [a]t school, we trade stories of being groped by strangers [...] [For example], [...] when a Rollerblader glided downstream along Lexington Avenue, stopping short to cup my chest [...] 

Weiss shared that her first obsession with men began with Jim Morrison: 

It was an obvious choice, an early teenage-cult follower move, spurred on by my newbie sexuality and Oliver Stone (i.e., The Doors (1991)). 

This "obsession," as my mother calls it, began when I was twelve, before the movie came out, I swear. I saw the real Jim perform on a PBS documentary my dad was watching and bought the paperback biography of his life, which is better than the movie. 

Weiss described giving a tip to Tony, a Serbian hairdresser, at European Hair Design: 

The slick act of sliding a tip to someone else is so out of my league, small, breast-budded me presenting a secret gift to a full-bodied man, something he needs that I have.

We already wrote a post about the Agnès b. Lolita backpack.

Piper Weiss @ 13 | A Year Before Gary Wilensky 

In the chapter titled "girl: x rated", Weiss described her teen voyeurism:

WHEN THE BOY IN THE WINDOW flicks his bedroom lights on and off, it means pay attention. [...] Then he puts down the blow-dryer, walks to the window holding himself with one hand. He waves with the other. 

His is the only penis I've ever seen, and it appears to be half an arm's length [...] He is instructional in the way he touches himself - as if he's teaching a group of students the techniques of a sport. It's all about form, control, consistency. 

I have seen this boy's most intimate body part countless times.

Subsequently, Weiss returned the favor: 

I've stuffed a hot pink satin bra from my sister's drawer with balled-up tissues and tightened the leather strings on my suede hot pants. [...] Across the alleyway, the boy flicks his lights fast and furious. A silent applause. 

Towards the end of the memoir, Weiss describes teens:

You are a walking fetish - a child in adult prosthetics.  You are a sensationalized news story. ("Shocking transformation: Underage teen sprouts sex organs.") [...] All around you, they purr and coo, they psst. Your body brings out the worst in them - fear for your safety, fear of their own perversions. You can read their minds. 

We know from Slut: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence that things happen between Manhattan private school girls and their doormen. Weiss described an encounter with her doorman:

Kilt rolled up at the waist, hair in a bun, frizz at my temples, homework half done and shoved in my book bag, I'm ready to go. I can feel it. [...] By the time I reach the lobby, one of the doormen, a young blue-eyed man with a goatee, who is too pretty [...] to look directly in the eyes, hands me the house phone.
"It's your mother."
"You forgot breakfast," she says. 

Lastly, Weiss describes a scene with Wilensky that relates to the title of her memoir You All Grow Up and Leave Me : 

"I won't leave you," I say. "I promise." His arms gather loosely around my back [...] 
"I love you, Gary," I say, because it's different from We love you, Gary [...]
"I love you, too," he says.
And then I get out of his care like a girl who has just been kissed. 

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