Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You In Or Out...

Have you ever found yourself crashing into the same question regardless the direction you turn? Ironically, this has happened to me over the past week. What are you? What is the answer? Asked by an amazing book read devoured in 24 hours, from a conversation with a friend from high school, culminating with the homily in church this past Sunday, the same question was posed: are you in the "in" crowd or are you "out"?

With regards to myself, it is not a question I lend much weight to, but it interests me nonetheless. Recently I was chatting with someone I knew from the high-school days when the conversation turned to a friend. She asked how so-and-so was and do I still keep in touch and blah-blah-blah. And then she said the most heartless curious thing: "Ya' know, she always on the "B" list...never really part of the in-crowd despite her desperate attempts to try and be." Ouch...even this many years later I felt the sting and the comment wasn't even about me. Hadn't we outgrown this cliquey cattiness? Stunning as it sounds, I was speechless. What is the answer? I had no reply, only a fleeting wonder of what her answer would have been if the conversation was about me.

"Babe Paley only had one flaw: she was perfect. Other than that, she was perfect."
~ Truman Capote

I don't tend to give much thought to being "in" or "out". In Mass yesterday Deacon Mike opened his homily asking how many of us have ever been in the "in" crowd, in the know, always seems to have all the information, always seems to know what's going on. Of course, the flip side is who has been on the outside, never feeling like they belong, always the last to know. I loved the fact he tied all this in to how we are all inclusive of God's love: man, woman, adult, child, gay, straight, wealthy, middle class, lower class, healthy, sick, regardless of race, geography or bank account, we are all included. I love my faith...

Babe Paley at Kiluna

By now, some of you may be asking who in tarnation is Babe Paley. The rest of you may be asking what in tarnation does any of this maniacal ranting thoughtful insight have to do with Babe Paley. In her day, Babe was definitely a part of, if not THE, "in" crowd ...

Truman Capote, 1959

I am a tremendous fan of Truman Capote and his work. Perhaps it is the little-person-giant-ego I can relate so well to, or the fact I pin my hopes of being an eccentric-never-ending-publisher-of-provocative-thoughts writer just like he was. There is something about this period of time when women were sophisticated and discreet and took pride in their appearances, demeanor, and presentation that I am greatly attracted to.

The Book

Truman, a lover of all things beautiful and eccentric, was absolutely in the "in" crowd surrounded by his beautiful "Swans". Without doubt, among this elite and amazing group of women, the beautiful Babe Paley was the most prized of all the Swans. From all I have read, she epitomized grace, style, sophistication, discretion, presentation...all those things I love that today seem too scarce. 

The Party of the Century details Truman's celebrity and time with the "in" crowd. He took great joy in determining who was "in" and who was "out" while The Swans adored him and indulged his every gossipy whim. Truman's Black and White Ball was the ultimate world-wide game of inclusion/exclusion. Subsequently, in his arrogance he hurt every one of his Swans, but none so much as the beautiful Babe Paley. Truman revealed her suicide attempts, outed her philandering husband, mentioned her indiscretions, her neurosis, the chinks in her armor. For a woman prided for her discretion, Truman stripped her bare. If that's the "in" crowd, you can keep it.

Sadly, Babe Paley passed away of lung cancer in 1978. When Truman followed her six years later from liver cancer, they had never reconciled. Upon Truman's death, Gore Vidal proclaimed it "a good career move."  Not the way I would choose to be remembered. Who of any of us is qualified determine who is "in" and who is "out"? (Side note: read the is GREAT!)

This evening my family and I attended the wake of a dear family friend. We, along with too many people to count, stood in a torrential downpour awaiting the long attendance line to wind its way through the funeral parlor so we could pay our respects. This man never had an unkind word for anyone and the number of folks whose life was touched by the kindness of him and his family overwhelms me. This to me is the answer...not who is "in" and who is "out" but to whom we have shown and received love. 

"In" or "out" seems irrelevant...if I have the capacity to make a difference in half the lives this man did, I will be happy. And that is the true answer to me.


  1. I am going to have to think on this one for awhile...Great post! xxBliss

  2. I have this book because I love Truman Capote. I was just thinking the other day how even at the age of 38 the trappings of high school are carried into our adult is just high school with adults!

    What you wear, who you have lunch with, what parties, happy hours, outings, etc. you get invited to, where to be seen, who you're dating, are you "in" or "out", life is one big struggle to be "in"


Please share your thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams...I love reading every one of them!