Socialism vs. social democracy

Every now and then, the PhD in political science comes in handy. By that I mean, I’ve read some really boring, esoteric, random stuff that goes into a great deal of detail on just about every obscure political thing you can think of. In my master’s program, I took a class on Marx. An entire semester. Read everything the man wrote. All of it. Taught by a Marxist feminist. So, I have a pretty good idea of what his ideas were and where they end up when taken to their logical conclusion.

I’ve also read a whole lot about a bunch of different regime types and ideologies. Liberal democracy, social democracy, electoral democracy, authoritarian dictatorships, fascism, feminism, communism, socialism, gawd…the list goes on and on.

All of this brings me to my main argument here today. Namely, democratic socialism and social democracy ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!

Wait, you say. Yes, they are! I saw a Facebook meme that clearly states that democratic socialism is just wanting all those things we pay for with taxes. Just like the Scandinavian countries do.

No! No it is not! They are most definitely not the same.

*deep breath*. OK, first we go back to Marx. He of the complete lack of understanding of human nature and nationalism. And, bad economic ideas. Marx had essentially a three-step process for moving from capitalism to communism.

  1. Capitalism would build the industrial base for the modernization of the economy and the increasing wealth of society. But, (as he was observing the Industrial Revolution in London), this would result in a great deal of inequality and the bourgeoisie who owned the means of production (businesses) would get wealthier while their employees (workers) would not move up or get poorer. Eventually, the workers would revolt against the bourgeoisie and this would lead to…
  2. Socialism. In socialism (and here’s the important bit folks), the state (government) would now own the means of production (businesses) and provide regulations regarding the economy including wages, prices, production, conditions, etc. Private property (homes, etc) would still be allowed under the socialism phase. Eventually, the state, having regulated everything and created equality among all citizens, would “wither away” leading to…
  3. Communism. In this phase all property and all business would be owned by all citizens in common (the state). No private property, no privately owned businesses. Everybody would contribute to and receive all from the state. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

I’ll tackle the idea of communism and it’s failure to take human nature into account in a later post. What I want to focus on here, is the “democratic socialism equals social democracy” foolishness.

The Scandinavian countries are social democracies. In other words, they are capitalist democracies that tax at a high rate in order to provide a generous social safety net for their citizens. They are most emphatically NOT democratic socialist governments. These governments do not own all businesses or have planned economies. They rely on private businesses to provide the lions share of taxes (IKEA is not a Swedish government owned business, but it is a big source of tax revenue for them). This is such a misunderstanding in the United States that in 2016 the Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen felt the need to clarify things in an address to Harvard University.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” Rasmussen said.

(emphasis added)

Catch that? “…far from a socialist planned economy.” They are market economies. Capitalist. That’s the difference and it’s the “planned” bit that gives most people the hives. Still unsure? Still think it might be a good idea to give this system a go? Run this thought experiment. Think about the last interaction you had with a government official. The DMV? Tax authorities? Paying a parking ticket? Now, imagine that individual and all his/her co-workers making economic decisions for the entire country. Wages, prices, output, imports, exports, tax rates, licensing requirements (wait…some of them already do that), product type and manufacture, product providers, employment decisions. All of it made by that person at the DMV/IRS/city office wherever. That’s socialism. And that’s socialism whether you call it democratic socialism, or just socialism.

As Mr. Rasmussen said, the Scandinavian countries are market economies. They are capitalist in nature. They provide generous social benefits. They are not socialIST.

So for the love of all that’s good, right, and bright in this world, stop conflating these terms. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. He wants the state to closely control the economy. For the end result of this idea, please see Venezuela for reference. Most Democratic voters believe that means he’s in favor of social democracy. Based on what I’ve read, he’s not. And, near as I can tell, none of the other Democratic candidates have figured that out.

This has been bugging me for a while now. Thank you for reading. We now return you to your regularly scheduled orneriness.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Week 7 prompt

Over at More Odds Than Ends, it’s the Week 7 writing prompt challenge. This week my prompt was a photo which you can see over there. My brain is a bit fried from a very weird and stressful week at work, but this is what I came up with.


“Mama, who’s this in the picture with Tío Joaquín?”
“Ah, that is his best friend Guillermo.”
“No, I mean others.”
“What others? There’s only Tío Joaquín and Guillermo.” Mamá sounded puzzled.
“Mira, Mamá, there’s a small boy, but it’s not me, and there’s somebody in a devil mask.” Adalberto glanced at his mother. Didn’t she see the other two in the photo?
Elena stared at her son. “Míjo, you can see them?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
“Sí, Mamá. What’s going on?”
Elena took a deep breath. If Adalberto could see the other two, she had to explain the young angel and the devil he’d defeated.


If you are at all interested, please do go over and check out the prompts. There are always spare prompts if you haven’t sent one in, and it would be great to see the group grow!

Image by Günther Simmermacher from Pixabay


That’s a word invented by Burke Breathed the creator of Bloom County. Some people are just super easy to offend. They’re just looking to be offended. They are also usually extremely clueless and lacking self-awareness. They have a great deal of offensensitivity and excel in looking for and finding offense in almost everyone and everything they encounter. These individuals often post quotes and memes that are designed to show that they “know” what is going on in the world. They are aware and are on to the rest of us. They’re not going to be fooled. What they fail to recognize is that they may in fact be describing themselves and their refusal to see any other arguments. One of my FB friends, who also happens to be an old high school friend, posted a quote/meme from George Orwell:

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.

I know the political leanings of this friend so I know that this was meant to be a dig at Trump and Republicans. I pointed out that perhaps they should consider that they are the ones hating those who speak the truth, rather than those speaking the truth. Of course, I immediately got challenged. Surprisingly for me, I remained calm and simply pointed out that perhaps they were the ones not listening. I was told that was not possible because “everyone knows” that Trump never speaks the truth. Ah. OK, then.

Stupidly perhaps, I then said, well, being trained in counter-factuals or what-ifs, I was simply pointing out the danger of assuming that you are not the one doing the hating of truth tellers. I’m now being challenged with the usual “well, I guess I’m just stupid, so please, do enlighten me, I’m not trained” extremely sarcastic and over the top language designed to goad. I’ve decided not to respond since seriously, if you can’t figure out what is meant by a “what-if scenario” then you really are refusing to listen, and yes you are the one doing the hating.

I have become so much better over the last few years at ignoring the inflammatory on FB, but sometimes it’s so over-the-top that I simply can’t help myself. I need to quit doing that. It’s not that I’m afraid to lose friends (I haven’t seen most of thees folks in decades and got along fine before they reentered my life via FB.). It’s that I simply don’t want to expend the energy engaged in all things political. I need to spend energy on school/work stuff and I want to spend energy on writing. Getting caught up in ridiculous arguments on social media is simply a colossal waste of time. Nobody really wants to engage in any type of discussion, they simply want to inform you of how stupid and unenlightened you are. Clearly, I know this and yet I still manage to ignore that small voice in my head that says, no let it go, and engage. I gotta figure out a way to make that voice louder.

So, in the end, I will not be returning to that thread. Let them think I don’t have an answer, let my former high school friend unfriend me. It’s immaterial at this point. I’m gong to continue to post those things I find to be interesting or funny or poignant and that’s the end of that.

Pretty good self-assessment if I do say so myself (see what I did there? didja? Huh? Huh?) Anyway, paying attention to what I tell myself and avoiding self-induced stress (arguing with people on FB is the definition of self-induced stress!) will lead to a happier, healthier me.

So, go figure out what you want to spend energy on. Make sure it’s something that makes you happy and not stressed out. My totally obvious words of wisdom for this week.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay

Breaking Curses

Once again it’s prompt time from More Odds than Ends. This week’s prompt allowed me to continue my story about Jack and his run-ins with cursed dolls. I like where this is going and I’m getting an idea for a book and maybe even a series. We’ll see. Let me know what you think.

Week 6 prompt: I was sitting at my kitchen table when I heard a knock on the door. I looked out the window, but no one was there. When I opened the door I saw…

Breaking Curses

The knock at the door came just as Jack was raising what he considered to be a well-earned cup of tea to his lips. He took a sip, and sighing, set down the cup. The knock had come from the front door, not the outside door of his home office, so it was probably just a delivery, but still…I just wanted an uninterrupted ten minutes to enjoy my tea.

He glanced out the kitchen window which allowed a partial view of the front porch. There was nobody there. Huh. Hope they just left the package and it’s not another dog carrying a cursed doll.

Last week had been interesting. The arrival of a (very friendly) dog carrying a doll that turned out to be a woman cursed by a cranky witch, had caused him to rearrange most of his calendar. He’d been looking forward to this week which had a more normal, and even a bit lighter, appointment schedule.

But, working as a free-lance curse-breaker meant you couldn’t really set hours too much. Jack sighed again. Let’s go see what this package is. I don’t remember what I ordered.

He walked to the front door and opened it. Looking down, expecting to see a Mage Express package, he was not prepared for another doll. A Barbie doll. This time backed up by a small Yorkshire terrier. The doll was almost the same size as the Yorkie. How the hell did such a small dog manage to carry that doll?

More importantly, what the hell was going on? One cursed doll every six months or so was normal. Two in one week?

He bent down and carefully picked up the doll. “Come on,” he said to the Yorkie who was whining and looking anxious. The dog followed him into the house.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay


Week 5 of More Odds than Ends writing prompts. If you would like to join in (please do! The more the merrier!) just go to More Odds Than Ends and read through the first post for the rules.

My prompt was: You hear a strange tap, tap, tapping at your door. When you open the door to see what is out there, there is a doll standing there, arm raised…


The sound of the stuttered tapping at the door cut through Jack’s concentration. Slightly annoyed he looked up at the clock. Almost six o’clock in the evening. There were no more appointments today. Who was at the door? Sighing heavily, he stood up and walked across the small office to the outer door.

Working from home had its advantages in terms of commutes. Going through the interior door put him in the living room of his house. Ten steps from his desk to the door and he was home. So, it wasn’t as if this late visitor was going to cause him to get home at some ungodly hour. He reminded himself to be grateful and opened the outer door.

A whine and half bark greeted him and directed his gaze downward. A black and white pitbull-lab mix dog was at the door, sitting behind a doll. The doll was standing in front of the door with one arm raised as if it had knocked. Jack looked around and saw no-one else. The dog whined again and gently picked up the doll in its mouth and trotted into the office.

“Hey, wait. Where are you going?” Jack sighed once more. It was clearly going to be one of those evenings. He followed the dog back into the office.

The dog carefully set the doll back on its feet again, arm still raised, and looked up expectantly at Jack. It looked back down at the doll and nudged it toward Jack, pushing the arm that was at the doll’s side. It was then that Jack noticed the small piece of paper in the doll’s hand. He sat down on the floor next to the doll and carefully pulled the piece of paper out of its hand. The dog’s tail wagged briefly while it continued to gaze at Jack.

The cramped, awkward hand-writing was difficult to read at first. It was as if a small child was writing with a pen that was about three sizes too big for their hand.

I’ve been cursed and forced into this doll. I know that you are a specialist in curse reversal and I’m hoping you can help. I can only move and speak when no-one is around. Apparently, Max (my dog) doesn’t count as “anybody”. Fortunately for me, he’s trained as a guide dog and brought me here. He probably needs some food and water at this point.

Thank you,
Renee Detweiler

Jack ran a hand through his hair. Great. Somebody else pissed off some cranky witch and got themselves stuffed into a doll. He looked at the doll.

“OK. Yes, I can help. But this is not going to be easy.”

Max whined again and picked up the doll, pushing it into Jack’s hand.

Thanks for reading! Please do click on the links above if you’re interested in stretching your imagination and writing skills!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Brexit, the End Times, & being honest with yourself

So Brexit (the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union) became official at 11pm UK time last night. Shockingly, the rest of the world, including the rest of the EU, did not stop turning. Life went on. Yes, there are a number of details that will have to be hashed out, and trade agreements etc. will need to be revisited, revised, and reissued. However, all of these things are activities that happen every day all around the world. Countries are always revisiting such agreements and updating them to take into account changing circumstances. Nothing new there.

I texted my brother this morning (he lives in Ireland) and received confirmation that the sun rose and the sky did not fall, contrary to the dire predictions coming out of the EU and Remainers in the UK. Boris Johnson gave what I consider to be a good speech on this historic moment. You can watch that here and judge for yourself. Contrary to a large portion of media generated opinion Johnson is not the buffoon they portray him to be (OK, so he needs to figure out a new haircut, but that is not indicative of intelligence or political savvy). And, now, most importantly, he’s delivered on his promises. That delivery stands in stark contrast to David Cameron and Theresa May. The virulent rhetoric coming out of the EU also suggests to me that that body stands to lose more from the exit of the UK than the UK does by exiting. It will be educational and interesting to see how this all plays out.

As Johnson noted in his speech, there will be bumps in the road ahead. Some of them will appear to be large and scary. But moving forward is the only way you get anywhere. To borrow a mantra from the Marines, improvise, adapt, overcome. Here in the U.S. we are seeing something similar. The loud wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left regarding the expected acquittal vote in the Senate on Trump’s impeachment is because they see their control over US politics and culture slipping. They are lashing out in an effort to scare the public back in line and silence those who are publicly pointing out their flaws. The heated and violent-filled rhetoric says more about the speakers than it does about those to whom it is directed.

The same goes here in the US. The impeachment was not the answer. The Senate trial is not the end of the world. In fact I argue that the entire process was far more harmful than anything else the Democrats in Congress could have dreamt up. The screams about shredding the Constitution are a diversion from their own attempts to do just that. Do not buy the rhetoric. If you dislike and disagree with Trump. Find a viable presidential candidate and vote for that person. Honestly, right now, contra all public assertions in support of diversity, etc. the Democratic field is a swath of nothing but old, white candidates. Think about that contrast for a moment. There are rumors that the super-delegates in the D party hierarchy will be persuaded to cut out Sanders (who’s ahead as of today) and replace him with Clinton. If you want instructions on how to destroy your own political party there are no better examples than the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK. Good luck with that.

You know, in 2016 I was relieved that Hillary lost but I was very uncertain what it would mean to have a Trump presidency. Now, I find myself happy with the outcome and ready to vote for him this year. That is heresy to many people. But, I will remind everybody, that you can only be a heretic if you are going against the teachings of a church you belong to. I never belonged to this current socialist vision of how things should be. So, I cannot be a heretic. Rabble-rouser, rebel against the prevailing norms, yes. Heretic no. Politics is not and should not be a religion.

Every belief should be questioned, examined, and analyzed. If, despite the flaws you find, you still find that belief to be the best for you, good. You have thoroughly accepted it despite its flaws. If, on the other hand, you refuse to examine your beliefs, spend a great deal of time shouting them at people who question you and them, and generally stick your fingers in your ears chanting “la la la I can’t hear you” then you are spouting things that deep in the center of your being you know to be flawed and perhaps even downright wrong. Yet for a variety of reasons (social acceptance, fear of thinking for yourself, dislike of personal responsibility) you refuse to disavow those beliefs. In doing this, you are a hypocrite.

Intelligent, honest critical thinkers have no fear of examining even strongly held beliefs. They understand the risks to their belief system but prefer the honesty.

Be analytical, think critically, and be honest with yourself.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

DNA and me

Once again, it’s time for prompts from More Odds Than Ends. Many thanks to ‘nother Mike who created this prompt. It’s so true that practicing writing makes it better. These prompts have improved my writing in the fiction area, just like I improved in the academic area. It’s something I emphasize to my students. But, sometimes, we need to practice what we preach and see things grow for themselves. I’m grateful I have these opportunities to practice and get feedback.

Prompt: Your kids sent in your DNA samples for analysis, and the company wrote back, explaining that they only do human DNA analyses… What do you tell them? Describe that scene with your kids.


The kids came crashing in through the front door, chattering in excitement. Standing in the kitchen, I couldn’t quite make out what they were talking about, but the level of excitement made me smile. Triplets, like twins, often develop their own language and unique communication characteristics and my crew was no exception.

“Mom! Mom! A letter came for you!” Trystan was the oldest (by three minutes) of the group and often took the lead. I think the other two deferred to him without even thinking about it.

“OK. But, why the excitement? We get mail all the time.” I smiled as I took the proffered envelope. Glancing at the return address, I felt my heart sink a bit. Oh, dear. There was going to be some explaining to do here.

Genetic History, Inc. was one of those mail in a swab and we’ll tell you about your genetic background companies.

“Um, guys, what is this?” I kept my expression neutral as I looked at three identical excited faces.

“It’s your birthday present! We saw an ad on TV and thought it would be fun to find out where we all come from! Read it!” Padrig, the “youngest”, was the explainer and chief negotiator.

“OK.” I knew what the letter was going to say, but how was I going to break the information to the kids? Well, I guess I’d have to make it up as I went along. The anticipation was getting mixed in with some anxiety now. They were wondering why I wasn’t as excited as they were and as they expected me to be.

“OK,” I said again and opened the small package. Inside was a small vial and a single sheet of paper. I put the vial aside and unfolded the sheet of paper. Clearing my throat and taking a deep breath, I started reading it out loud.

Dear Ms. Griffin,

Thank you for submitting your DNA sample to Genetic History, Inc. We greatly appreciate your trust in our company.

Unfortunately, we are only equipped to analyze human DNA, and therefore we are unable to process your submitted sample. In the interests of privacy, we have returned your sample. Should you wish to pursue your genetic research we recommend that you submit your sample to HumanFae Ancestry (HFA, Inc.). They are a highly reliable organization specializing in the analysis of non-human DNA.

Thank you again for your confidence in us and the best of luck in your genetic research.


Ronald L. Barclay, CEO
Genetic History, Inc.

The silence in the kitchen was deafening. I raised my eyes from the letter to see three astonished faces gaping at me.

“What does that mean? Non-human? Didn’t they do the test?” My “middle” child, Anwyn, was the worrier and the one who didn’t like things to go sideways. Clearly finding out that mom was not human was the ultimate in things going sideways.

“Guys, you know how much I love you. But, yeah. There is one thing I didn’t tell you yet. I was kind of hoping to do this in about a year, but I guess we’ll do it now. Let’s go sit on the sofa.” I moved into the family room and plopped myself down in the middle of our well-used couch. The kids slowly followed and arranged themselves in their usual pattern around me. Trystan on my left; Arwyn and Padrig on my right. This was our pattern when we read to each other or watched TV or movies together. When their dad was home, he sat on the other side of Arwyn. This sofa and our seating arrangement on it represented our family together time.

I looked at each of them. Their faces were alive with curiosity. I smiled. I couldn’t be any more proud of them than I was right now.

“Let me tell you everything and then you can ask all the questions you want and I’ll do my best to answer them. Deal?”

Three heads nodded in unison.

“OK. I’m not human. I’m not a monster. At least not like something out of a story. But, I’m not human. I’m fae. That’s somebody from what your books call fairy people. I was sent away many years ago because the Queen became very angry with me. I wound up here and met your father. We were very happy for many years. We were extremely happy when we found out I was pregnant with you three. Fae have a very difficult time having children, so the idea that we were going to have three children was exciting.” I paused, assessing their expressions.

“Mom? Can I ask a question now?” Trystan’s voice was hesitant.

“Yes, sweetheart. What is it?” The hesitation in his voice tugged at my heart. I didn’t want my children to be afraid to ask me questions.


“Yes. Does that bother you?”

Three voices came back in a chorus. “That’s SO COOL!!”

I had to laugh. I had worried about having this talk, but I guess those fears were overblown. I settled in to answer the flurry of questions that were being fired at me.


This one was a lot of fun to write. I love the mix of “real world” with supernatural. These are the worlds I like to write in. I think this one has the potential for at least a short story if not more. I’m going to let it marinate for a while.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

And so it begins…

The Spring 2020 semester starts tomorrow. I just got back yesterday from 11 days in Belgium and Netherlands with my students. I have finished two out of three syllabi. And, those two are for the same class (2 sections). The third one, my class on Russian politics, is not in the online learning management system yet. The last time I taught it was before we got this new system. So, that will take some time to input all the modules and info for them. Fun.

On the “I’m grateful for…” side of things, I’m grateful I teach Tuesdays and Thursdays so I have tomorrow to work on getting everything uploaded and semi-functioning. I can spend the day working on that so that on Tuesday it’s all ready and looks like I’m totally organized. Ha!

On the WTF?! side of things, we have our first big meeting of the semester tomorrow as well. Oh, joy. I started seeing the emails for several meetings last week, but since I was busy doing pedagogically sound activities with students I was able to totally ignore most of them.

Continued: Monday Jan. 13.

The semester started today. I’m grateful that my schedule is Tuesday/Thursday this semester. We did have a meeting this afternoon, but at least I didn’t have to teach today. Tomorrow is three classes back-to-back. Oh, joy. More and more I think that work puts a real crimp in the work I really want to do.

You might have noticed that I’m doing a weekly writing prompt exercise over at More Odds Than Ends. I’ve posted them here. Last week’s was “Old Keys.” I had fun writing it and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this exercise in the foreseeable future. Waiting to see what the next one will be. In the meantime, I greatly appreciate your reading them and I’ve love to read any comments you might have.

OK. I’m off to bed. Long day tomorrow. Here’s to a good, and less stressful Spring 2020 semester.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Old keys

The Week 2 of Odd prompts found me sorting through a coffee can of old keys. I’m traveling with my students and this has been a welcome change.


Old Keys

I pulled the can off of the top shelf in the garage. The left side of the two-car garage had been my dad’s workshop/home appliance repair area. He’d spent hours and days puttering around out here, in all kinds of weather, at almost all hours of the day. If mom hadn’t insisted he get some sleep, and preferably in their bed, I truly believe he would have slept out here as well. Now I was cleaning it out along with the rest of the house so it could be sold.

The can was heavy and there was a metallic rattle when it shifted. Probably a bunch of screws and nails. All saved “just in case.” Dad never threw anything away because, according to him, you never knew when you might need it. He wasn’t really a hoarder, except when it came to screws, nuts, bolts, washers, and nails. I’d already found about 10 coffee cans full of all of those. This was probably one more.

I peered into the rusted Folger’s coffee can. Holy crap. It was filled with keys. Keys! Not just a couple dozen or so (something I would expect to find in a house that had been lived in for almost 50 years), but almost a full coffee can’s worth. Did any of these work on the current locks? Knowing dad, they probably worked on the original locks for the house.

“Michael! Where are you?” My wife’s voice came through the door that went into the house from the garage.

“Out here, in the garage. You gotta see this!” I yelled back, staring into the Folger’s can.

Jenna appeared in the doorway. “What did you find?”

I simply handed over the coffee can. “What am I supposed to do with these?”

“Wow. That’s a hella lot of keys. Can’t you just throw them out?” Jenna looked up at me.

“I suppose. But…something tells me I have to go through them just to be sure. Who knows what dad put in there. Besides, some of them might go to the current locks in the house. I’d feel better knowing we accounted for them all.”

I took the can back and followed Jenna back into the house and went through to the kitchen. I unceremoniously dumped the keys out on the kitchen table.

Jenna started sorting through them. “A lot of these look the same. Why don’t we start there? Find your keys to the house. We can compare them and see if any of these are house keys.” She pulled out a chair and got to work sorting keys.

Thank God for my wife. If I’d been alone, I would have simply stared at the pile on the table. I had mostly made it through the weeks after my parent’s deaths because of her. She took care of all the practical stuff and just told me where to go. And I went. The police to deal with the aftermath of the accident, the hospital to see them and be there when the machines were unplugged, the funeral home. Everything. She handled it all and pointed me in the right direction. Now she was helping me do something as mundane as sort keys. How did I get so lucky?

“Michael. What could this possibly go to?” Jenna was holding up an antique key with a fanciful design on the handle end.

I stared at the key. “That looks like it might actually open that bottom drawer in the old dresser in their bedroom. I have no idea what could be in there, but why don’t we try it?” I took the key from her and headed into the master bedroom.

I had to stop at the door and take a deep breath. I hadn’t touched this room yet. I couldn’t bring myself to go through their clothes, my mother’s jewelry, anything. In this room, their room, they were still alive. I pushed down a sob and felt Jenna’s hand on the small of my back.

She gave me a hug. “I know. Let’s just see if the key fits and then go back to the kitchen. It’s probably something your dad found and couldn’t throw away. It is a beautiful key.”

I nodded and moved into the room toward the dresser that sat next to the window. I don’t know that it would qualify as an antique, but it was old. And damn if it didn’t look like the key was made for that bottom drawer.

I knelt down in front of the dresser, put the key in the keyhole, and slowly turned it. A soft click and a small release of pressure told me it did indeed unlock the drawer. I glanced over at Jenna who had knelt on the floor next to me. She smiled at me and made a “go on” gesture with her hand. I pulled open the drawer not knowing what to expect.

“Holy shit!”

“Oh, my God!”

Jenna and I yelled simultaneously. The drawer was filled, filled, top to bottom, front to back, side to side with $100 bills. There had to be close to a million dollars or more in that dresser drawer. In cash.

“Michael, look!” Jenna’s hand was shaking as she pointed to a white envelope sitting in the middle on top of all the cash. She picked up the envelope, glanced at it and handed it to me. Her eyes were wide.

The envelope was addressed to me. I tore it open and pulled out the single sheet of paper inside.

Seeing my father’s crabbed handwriting made me tear up again.

Dear Michael,

Congratulations. You found the key and figured out where it fit. This is your real inheritance. I didn’t want to put it in with the other investments even though it might have made more that way. Do with this as you see fit, although I wouldn’t spend it all in one place. That makes the IRS suspicious and you know how I feel about them.

I had to laugh. My father’s dislike of the IRS was a legend in the extended family.

There’s $1,750,000 in here. It’s all yours, son. I love you.


P.S. Your mother says she loves you too.

Water dripped onto the paper. I took the Kleenex offered by Jenna and wiped off my tears.

“Well, Dad. You finally did it. I’m speechless.” I looked up to the heavens and laughed.


This was actually kinda fun to write. My father was not like this in terms of fixer upper coffee cans full of screws, and he didn’t have a workshop in the garage. But for some reason he was front and center while I was writing this.