Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They’re both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that’s where the similarity ends. Though they are twins, they are first and foremost individuals. Elizabeth is friendly, outgoing, and sincere—nothing like her twin, who knows better than to worry about pleasing others. Snobbish and conniving, Jessica thinks the whole world revolves around her. And most of the time it does, because she is a woman who knows how to translate her will into reality. Jessica always gets what she wants—at school, with friends, and especially with boys.
Do not make the same mistake as so many others have in Sweet Valley, the ignorant children who think that an individualist is someone who does as she pleases at everyone else’s expense. The expense of others doesn’t enter into it. An individual like Jessica recognizes that her rights matter only insofar as they do not trample on the rights of others. She will not run anyone else’s life, but neither will she let anyone else, from the highest Bruce Patman to the lowliest Winston Egbert, run hers. She neither rules (like Lila Fowler) nor is ruled (like Enid Rollins).
Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.
An individualist is a man who says: “I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor sacrifice anyone to myself.”
Elizabeth works for the school paper.
Jessica was still the most fantastic girl in school.
So why didn’t Todd know it? Tears of angry frustration filled her eyes. She decided she would walk home from school. Whenever she was out walking, she never failed to attract a good deal of attention from passing cars.
The more the better, she thought, swinging her hips a little as she set off.
Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned. Jessica had earned it the same way she had earned everything — with aquamarine eyes, sun-kissed California blonde hair, a perfect size six figure, and an unshakeable faith in her own ability to turn desire into reality. She was both the warrant and the sanction.
“I told him we didn’t want to miss a single minute of mall time. I mean, what’s better than spending an evening at the mall? That’s where money lives.”
“Money is only a tool, Lila,” Jessica reminded her friend. “It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver of your lime-green Triumph, complete with car phone.”
“I’ve never met anyone like you, Jessica,” Sam said breathlessly after another one of their long kisses that felt like a long walk on the beach that lasted forever. “You’re so strong, and beautiful, and –“
“If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her?” Jessica asked. Sam opened his mouth to answer, but she held up a perfectly manicured finger to stop him. “It’s no more than a fact and it has cost you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for her virtues is meaningless. She’s earned it, it’s a payment, not a gift. But to love her for her vices is a real gift, unearned and undeserved. To love her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake — and that is a real tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your integrity and your invaluable self-esteem.”
“I don’t understand,” Sam began.
“I want you to kiss my self-respect, Sam,” Jessica explained.
“Oh,” Sam said. Then he did.
True, it would be Lila’s party, and the attention would be centered on Lila and Roger, but Jessica had a way of fixing that. She could see it now. Everyone who was anyone—from her sorority sisters to the guys on the boys’ tennis team—would be gathered around Lila’s lushly landscaped swimming pool, that glimmering oval of liquid money. Right in the center of things would be Lila, making sure everyone was aware that Roger was the object of her affection. Jessica would enter, naked from her wrist to her neck, dressed like a locomotive, like precious metal, like the skyline of New York City, which is more beautiful than even the pyramids of Giza. Then, as the hors d’oeuvres were being passed around, Jessica could casually mention to Cara how nice it was that Roger got time off from cleaning toilets to come to this affair.
There was nothing inherently wrong with cleaning toilets, of course, but since capitalism leaves every man free to choose the work that he likes best, and to go as far as his ability and ambition will carry him, it was more than a little embarrassing that Roger hadn’t even managed to develop a new process of refining steel yet.
Within minutes everyone would be looking at Lila strangely—and she’d try to discover why. Soon she’d be off hiding in embarrassment, trying to figure out how to get out of this one. That would set the stage for Jessica’s introduction of Dennis and her taking over as star of the party. Jessica started giggling inwardly in anticipation of the event.
Also, there would never be a woman president. What man would a woman president be able to look up to? He would have to live on the moon.
“They’re not rumors, Elizabeth,” said Mr. Collins, looking grim. “They’re true enough.”
Sweet Valley’s two most powerful families, the Patmans and the Fowlers, were at each other’s throats again, and the high school was caught in the middle. The Patman-Fowler feud — pitting the old, established Henry Wilson Patman and his canning industry money against George Fowler and his new money made through silicon chips — was going to be fought out on the Gladiators’ football field.
“The school had leased the field from the city, but the lease ran out recently,” said Mr. Collins. “Now George Fowler is trying to buy the land so he can put up a new factory.”
“Right across from the school?” said Elizabeth.
“That’s what he wants. The Fowlers judge everything by how they can make more money.”
“Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think,” said Elizabeth heatedly. “Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is MADE—before it can be looted or mooched—made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?”
Mr. Collins tried to interrupt, but Elizabeth continued for another 300 pages before moving to an offshore tax haven, where she was free to publish her essays about the capital gains tax without interference from The Oracle‘s heavy editorial hand.
Gardens are just a fancy word for “cemetery.” Nothing useful was ever produced in a garden. The factory provided the high schoolers with a concrete picture of what ambition, money, and vision could accomplish, right across the street. Many inferior high school males grew up to work in that factory. Their women tended to their own gardens in their backyards, but at least they grew food in them.
“Jessica,” Elizabeth said worriedly, “Roger is going to be here any minute.”
“So?” Jessica responded placidly, letting a final curl of her hair (which was the color of gold, an objectively valuable metal) cascade perfectly into place.
“So,” Elizabeth said, “you’re not dressed yet.”
“Oh, I’m dressed,” Jessica said, smiling.
“You’re not wearing any clothes!” Elizabeth cried. “You can’t go out dressed in…dressed in nothing, Jess! That’s extreme, even for you.”
“Au contraire, sister,” Jessica said, stepping lightly towards the door. “I am dressed in my own vision for the future.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.