"It’s a nice house to have grown up in," Katie says, settling into the dark sitting room, a room decorated with gold lamps and some chinoiserie. She averts her eyes. Perhaps it would have been an entirely average house to grow up in, except for the troubles that began when Katie was 13. One day she entered a teen chat room on AOL, and all at once her adolescence became unlike those of her upper-class conservative teen peers.
Katie Tarbox, the very picture of affluent teen normality, shows off her family’s two-story house in the plush Connecticut suburb of New Canaan. The 18-year-old stops only to look briefly in a mirror and smooth down her already well-coiffed, highlighted blond hair. Then she takes me to her room, where a Gateway computer and a Sony Vaio vie with her Laura Ashley bedspread set and wicker furnishings. "The Vaio is such a beautiful thing," she sighs. We go back downstairs and say hello to cockatoo Agidore and Katie’s older sister — also blond and round faced with intelligent blue eyes, back from Brown University for spring break. "Don’t Katie and I look alike?" she asks.