Can’t Buy Me

Dearest Rachel –

You might remember, before I got into (and got the two of you into) certain websites of a more political nature, I used to practice my reading voice by reciting bits out of the Onion. One of our recurring favorites was the horoscope section, allegedly written by retired machinist and A.A.P.B.-certified astrologist, one Lloyd Schummer, Sr. The entry that comes to mind at present (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea) is the following bit of offbeat advice:

Aries: (March 21-April 19) There are those that tell you you can’t solve every problem by throwing money at it, but they can usually be bribed to shut up.

Granted, this only goes to show that Mr. Schummer never met Erin, but there are always exceptions to every rule. Besides, he did say ‘usually,’ after all.

Of course it’s true that money isn’t a solution to everything; there is no amount one can pay for the sake of one’s own soul, no matter what the folks selling indulgences back in the day used to claim. For one thing, there’s nothing that serves as a universal (let alone multiversal, or at least, multiplanar) store of value. You and I used to reference that joke about the fellow who insisted on bringing some of his possessions with him into heaven, and when St. Peter – who had very reluctantly allowed him to pull this stunt in the first place, under the assumption that he had something that didn’t exist in heaven – saw the gold bars he’d brought, all he could do was to shake his head incredulously and mutter, “You went through all that effort… for pavement?”

Nor, of course, could any of it retrieve your soul from wherever in the heavens that it may be wandering – and you wouldn’t want to return here for all the money in the world, in any event. I have to keep reminding myself that no matter what I may be able to do with myself and/or others, none of it compared much to the joys of heaven. But as I’ve not seen that side (and you’re in no position to reveal it to me at the moment), I’ve no basis for comparison, so I may still try to see and do a few things over the course of the next few years, even as I regret the fact that you can’t be here to enjoy them with me.

And of course, while it does get you places down here, there are still a few things it can’t do even here…

“Can’t Buy Me Love,” the Beatles, from A Hard Day’s Night (1963)

To be sure, the main guy singing this is the same obnoxiously pompous fellow who would later croon “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can…” while his fingers danced across a million-dollar white grand piano. Look, I get that a better piano makes better music, but if you’re gonna talk about deprivation, you make the first move, Johnny-boy.

I will give credit to another artist (whose name, unfortunately, escapes me at the moment) who played “Imagine” during a relatively recent New Years’ Rockin’ Eve (yes, I dare say that song is our generation’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – we’re constantly wishing that the next year ushers in the utopia of peace and harmony we’ve been promised, despite knowing human nature to well to have any faith that any of that would work out. And a good thing too – “nothing to kill or die for” also implies nothing to live for, either. But I digress), and changed the line to “I wonder if I can.” Thank you, sir, for acknowledging how difficult it is to let go of the idea that these things are ‘mine,’ and those are ‘yours,’ and so forth, even for yourself.

Money can’t buy you love, but it can get you a reasonable facsimile thereof.

from the movie “Indecent Proposal” (1993)

Yeeeah, I think that probably depends on how you define both ‘love’ and ‘reasonable’ in the above quote. My dad’s been warning me, from the first moment that I mentioned how I missed every aspect of being with you – and I’m including every aspect – that I have to be careful about what he termed ‘gold diggers.’ A lot of people can put on a pretty good act if they think that there’s something in it for them. And you know what? If that’s what they feel they have to do, I get that; I’m even okay with people doing what they feel they need to do. But that’s not love; at best, that’s just out-and-out need being expressed. And I don’t want to have to deal with that personally, thank you very much.

The problem is in weeding that sort of thing out from the real thing – assuming the real thing is even out there. I’ve been taking a real-life crash course in determining whether or not I’m being catfished here and there (fun fact: it turns out that the term supposedly comes from industrial fishermen, who would include a few of catfish in a tank of cod to keep the cod moving around as the fishermen return to land to sell their catch, otherwise the cod, left on their own, become lethargic and their meat gets flabby and inedible. The more you know), and even now, I’m not sure I’m any good at it. If anything, I’m probably more suspicious than I need to be (the situation with Naruko, for example, ended up with her claiming she didn’t need airfare as much as she needed to pay off some loans she’d made with locals during her assignment in Cambodia – couldn’t Doctors Without Borders have assisted her with this? – but even now, that sounds vaguely plausible, and oddly enough, she’s never deleted her account on the dating site, like so many others have done. So I’m still not sure if I passed up an opportunity to help, or dodged a bullet).

And that’s where money can’t help; indeed, it just makes certain things that much less secure. Makes one want to just build a fortress and hole up in it.

Maybe Daniel has the right idea, after all.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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