One recurring detail in the coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school days—the days now central to the question of whether he joins the Supreme Court—is the claim that he attended school in “North Bethesda.”
To understand the world that produced Brett Kavanaugh—and Neil Gorsuch, already seated on the Court, after smirking his own way through the corrupt and illegitimate, but uneventful, spectacle of his confirmation hearings—it helps to first understand that there is no such place as North Bethesda. There is Bethesda, which is inside the Capital Beltway, and then north of that is Rockville.
All of these are wonderfully prosperous suburban places, with excellent public schools, but Georgetown Prep is a school for people who don’t want their kids to get a good education if it means they have to associate with other people’s kids who might have more brains than money. So, too, it is a school for people who care about the subtle and objectively meaningless distinctions between the various parts of one of the 20 richest counties in the United States.
Rockville proper is a little city, with boundaries and a mayor and everything. The graves of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are there, in a little churchyard squeezed by crowded roadways. But the unincorporated sprawl below it, stretching down Rockville Pike to the Beltway in a profusion of excellent strip malls (rudely interrupted by the huge dumb lawns of an excessively large prep school campus) that on a hot night can almost feel like Los Angeles, is also Rockville.
This fact has long been upsetting to the sort of folks who think it matters that they don’t live in Bethesda. Thus, in the long tradition of bogus realities written by real estate agents, the fictitious “North Bethesda” came to be. The name has even wormed its way into the Census somehow, but the Census also thinks Baltimore and Washington are basically one place. The Census is better at counting stuff that it is at sociogeographical analysis.
For a couple of years, at the end of my 20s, I lived right by Georgetown Prep on Rockville Pike, in an extremely ordinary garden apartment complex besieged by fat nonmigratory Canada geese, who left goose crap everywhere. Specifically, we lived south of Georgetown Prep—that is, the apartment lay between Georgetown Prep and Bethesda. The apartment’s address was in Rockville. We lived in Rockville, where Georgetown Prep is also located. Anyone who says otherwise has something to hide.