By now Stephanie could hit a drive 240 yards but didn’t have the patience for putting. In one national tournament, when she was 18, she was playing against Paula Creamer, who was way ahead. On the 18th hole, Ms. Wei hit into the rough, 150 yards off the green. She grabbed her five iron and dropped the ball 10 feet from the hole, then two-putted for a par five. “I still remember that shot, it was exactly how I wanted to hit it,” she said. “Felt really good.”
Ms. Wei shot a 74 and finished in third place. Around this time she was ranked nationally in the 50’s (for her age group) and says she could have been better. “It was almost like a rebellion,” she said. “I didn’t always really want it; I never tried that hard.”
Although she missed school because of golf, she made straight A’s. She was no goody-goody, though.
“Asian kids don’t go out, you’re not allowed to go out when you’re an Asian kid,” she said. “I always dated guys. I was pretty forward for my age, actually. More experienced than some people. More like, experimental, like meeting random people I shouldn’t be meeting and hanging out with them.”
At 15, she’d sneak out to hook up with guys like Mike, who attended public school and drove a red Mustang. “One night he picked me up and we were hooking up, making out, whatever, but I didn’t have my shoes on or anything,” she remembered. “And my mom realized I was missing … and I remember running down the gravel back home, and sneaking back into the window, and getting berated by my mother, and the next day had bruises all over my feet.”
Other nights she’d end up in “like the ghetto of Seattle, where they probably had drugs and guns,” she recalled. “I was always curious about how the other world lives, hanging out with the less privileged kids I would meet and go to their trailer parks.”
At the same time, she was being recruited for college golf scholarships, courted over fancy dinners. At first, the Ivies were “like a backup,” she said, because they don’t offer athletic scholarships. She received scholarship offers from some schools, but wasn’t sure she wanted to sign away her life to golf. “You get a lot of perks, but they freaking own you.”
She chose Yale. Her roommate Katie Baker remembers meeting a Seattle girl with a Jennifer Aniston haircut who said things like “hella cool.” She had irregular sleeping patterns, passed out a lot and made a cameo in a student movie called Beer Pong. She was nicknamed “the Asian Dove” by the hockey team.
She joined the same sorority as Barbara Bush, Kappa Alpha Theta, and became VP of membership. She was made captain of the golf team her junior year, but after a while she wasn’t playing as well. She also decided the practice facilities at Yale weren’t up to par, and neither was the training program, nor the coach. Then there was the stress of school, plus she was tired of taking steroids for a back injury—so she quit. “It was really hard because I never ‘quit’ anything before.”
A lot of her Yale friends were moving to New York, so in the summer of 2005 she gave it a shot. First she worked at a law firm. “It’s funny, the amount of, like, sexual harassment suits I could have gotten at my first job,” she said, half-kidding. “I was really ambitious, all-nighters all the time. I didn’t go to bed for 30 hours once.”
Ms. Wei became the pet of a few older married men at the firm and dated one middle-aged guy who was separated from his wife. “We kept it a secret, so no one ever found out about it.” Other female employees complained that Ms. Wei received special treatment because she was pretty. After 14 months, she was hired as a private-equity analyst at an investment firm. Last April, after only six months, she quit.
In February, Ms. Wei got a gig working at a boutique PR consulting company She also told me that she is going to be chief operating officer of a fashion label that will debut this summer; all she would say about her partner is that he is the son of a legendary fashion designer
Despite all of her accomplishments, what most impressed me about Ms. Wei was one night when I tried to get her to leave the Bowery Hotel with me. She said no. “When I’m out with my friends, I’m out with them,” she explained. “I don’t ditch my friends.”
Another night Ms. Wei met me at Public on Elizabeth Street. She ordered a skim cappuccino. She’d been out the night before at a party at the Beatrice Inn for Tara Subkoff.
“I don’t wanna drink right now; I just need to like cleanse my body,” she said. She was wearing Jimmy Choo boots, Wolford tights, and a white sweater coat, which she kept on. Her Yves St. Laurent bag was in between us.