Buy the sky and sell the sky…

One of my colleagues and friends happens to be from my hometown. Betsy is much younger than I am but she visits Empire Falls fairly regularly. Small towns being what they are, she hears the news whenever she visits. Rachael, another colleague of mine, called me the other day and said she had been talking with Betsy, who during her most recent visit to Empire Falls had heard from parties completely outside of my circle or my sister’s circle that I was engaged in a sex change. This means, of course, that everyone in my hometown knows–which is fine with me, by the way.

Rachael, being curious, asked Betsy about the Empire Falls’ general reaction, wondering if it would be judgmental or skeptical, and Betsy said it was all live and let live and perhaps even supportive. Rachael, who was telling me this on the phone, said that she and Betsy had a theory about it all. I thought it was going to be something like “Small town people are live-and-let-live,” or “Society is changing,” or “People have an incredible capacity for compassion.” Instead, their theory is that if you have enough money, no one cares what you do.

It’s been a long time since I lived in Empire Falls. My parents have been dead a while. My grandparents are long dead. Yes, we had a family of some means and some influence and maybe that counts for something. Maybe it counts for a lot. It doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from pain or suffering, like Richard Corey, but maybe it means you get a bit of a break for catastrophic or unusual events.

But what bugs me is what this observation of Rachael’s and Betsy’s means:

My acceptance has nothing to do with being a nice person or a good student or a fellow human being or a persuasive communicator or helpful neighbor or a good family member, but it’s just a case of that well-to-do ranch boy gone eccentric and, well, you really can’t tell about those eccentric rich folks, can you?

I’ll take acceptance in whatever form it takes, of course, but this idea bothers me. I can’t help but extend this idea beyond my hometown, because if the theory is true, it suggests to me that not only is all of my hometown acceptance dependent on money, but so is all of my family acceptance, and my friends’ acceptance, and my colleagues’ acceptance, and even your acceptance, dear reader. All of it is just something I’ve bought.

If anyone understands and accepts, they have done so in spite of my bribery.

If I had known a couple of years ago that transsexual transition was only a matter of buying people off, I wouldn’t have worried myself sick for 2 years, wouldn’t have sat at the edge of the bed with a pistol thinking of suicide, wouldn’t have obsessed about the welfare of Mary Jo or my kids or my friends, wouldn’t have begged any deity or other power there might be to show me the way out of this dilemma.

I would have just whipped out my checkbook.