“On the whole I’d say Rappahannock enjoys its separateness,” the woman said. “Whether that’s good or bad, I haven’t any idea. Regardless, Rappahannock is utterly impervious to outside influences. Not that people haven’t tried to influence us! Good Lord, they try all the time!”
She elaborated: “People come here from all over the country and fall in love with Rappahannock. Then they move here, and pretty soon they’re telling us how much more lively and prosperous Rappahannock could be if we only knew what we had and how to take advantage of it. I call these people ‘Gucci carpetbaggers.’ They can be rather insistent, you know. Even rude. We smile pleasantly and we nod, but we don’t budge an inch . . . It’s not that we’re trying to be difficult. We just happen to like things exactly the way they are!”
Substitute “Savannah” for “Rappahannock,” and the above are exact quotes from the 1994 bestseller by John Berendt, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
Meanwhile, much more recently (last month, in fact), the New York Times reported from Paris that a real estate developer “has snapped up about half of the neighborhood north of the city’s trendiest districts,” the Marais, “with plans to restyle it into a sleek epicurean village, called La Jeune Rue, dedicated to farm-fresh gastronomy and the culture of chic.”
The project “raises the question of whether a single person should decide how parts of a city evolve, and if the citizens affected can have any say in it.” And the Paris mayor worries that without being mindful of maintaining economic and social balance, “you’d just have ghettos for the rich.”
Retorts the developer: “Instead of saying, ‘Who is this guy? He’s suspicious,’ I wish people would support me and thank me, and say I’m doing a good thing for my country by investing in it for real.”
The parallels with the controversy ignited by Jim Abdo’s plans for Rappahannock’s county seat are uncanny. Which simply proves, I guess, that as special as Rappahannock County truly is, maybe we’re not so extra special as we like to think!