A Response to Barrister Smythe’s Email Offer of $10.6 Million



Dear Barrister Reginald Smythe,

Got your email; so sorry to hear about the whole on your deathbed/no friends or family to inherit your vast amounts of wealth thing. I admire your dream “to build charity organizations for the less privilege to have some better life” and am honored that you have chosen me to carry out your vision. After all, I’m a perfect stranger.

Unless I’m not.

This is a test, isn’t it? My job: to determine how we met and how I made such an impression that you’d leave me $10.6 million USD. I accept the challenge.

Perhaps your letter holds the necessary clues. You mention that you “escaped tsunami disaster some time ago.” Hmmm… tsunami. I’ve never been to Japan, Chile, Samoa, Sumatra, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Kuril Islands, Java Islands, Malaysia, India, Bengladesh, or Sri Lanka, so those are out.

There was the Alaskan cruise with the crazy waves (so unfortunate after the all-you-can-eat midnight buffet), but I cannot recall a barrister aboard.

You also wrote that the tsunami affected your spine and eardrum; you offered that “perhaps I’m now on a wheelchair.” Your phrasing is curious and, I believe, noteworthy. Surely it was not poor grammar that led you to write “perhaps” as well as “on” rather than “in” a wheelchair. (Because let’s be real, anyone with $10.6 million to give away most likely has a personal assistant to help with the grammar.)

“Perhaps on a wheelchair” is really code for occasional riding on a Electric Conveyance Vehicle, aka scooter, isn’t it? And nowhere have I seen more scooters than…wait…the Disney resorts.

Holy cow I’m getting close: DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON WATER PARK HAS A TSUNAMI WAVE POOL! It’s clearly terrifying (as evidenced right here on the internet).

Is that our connection? Could it be that I stood in that wave pool and was nearly smashed to pieces by the same tsunami that took your eardrum? (Although in fairness to Disney, the hearing damage could have been due to the piercing screams of 4,000 tweens on spring break.)

Wait, it’s coming to me.

It was the ice cream, wasn’t it, outside the Happy Landings Snack Shack? The shack where ALL the other children were each given their very own bucket of soft-serve ice cream topped with 8 varieties of leftover Halloween candy and a solitary cherry.

Every kid, that is, except for the four in our little group. Yes, I handed FOUR children four spoons and ONE bucket of ice cream. There was some outrage until they dug in, got full, and gleefully hit the water coaster (where, I must proudly add, no one hurled their quarter bucket).

It must have been you, Barrister, in tails and top hat perched on your scooter just to the left of us. You sat feasting on a jumbo turkey leg the size of Popeye’s forearm while staring unblinkingly at our small group.

At the time I thought you lacked social skills, but now the truth hits my gut like a gnawed-to-the-bone drumstick: you couldn’t look away from the sight. You found beauty in watching a person of strong moral fiber divide a bucket of sweetness amongst all who could partake, offering the smallest and weakest child the same chance at happiness as the biggest child.

You nursed your aching eardrum and envisioned the day when you would use some small portion of your vast wealth to track me down on the internet and write these awkward yet plaintive words:

“This mail might come to you as a surprise and the temptation to ignore it could come into your mind, but please, accept it with a deep sense of humility.”

I do, and I would, Barrister–if it truly was a noble act. Sadly, it was not goodness you saw in the dividing of that pail of plenty. Rather, my friend Pam and I needed enough money to hit the Let’s Go Slurping’ Cafe. May God help me, but I did not want to split the mega mango margarita with Pam. So I forced four innocent children to share a bucket of ice cream. It was greed, not goodness, that led to the parsing of the pail.

My generosity is no match for yours and I must humbly withdraw from your $10.6 million challenge. Also, for the record, that 20-pound turkey leg looked more dangerous than the tsunami. It could definitely take out an ear. Just saying, if you ever need to update the letter.

With most sincere gratitude for all that could have come to pass but did not because of a frozen concoction that helped me hang on,



2 thoughts on “A Response to Barrister Smythe’s Email Offer of $10.6 Million

  1. T.O. Weller says:

    Hi Kristin!

    Your writing, as always, is such a pleasure to read!

    I hope this finds you well … and please do share future communications with Barrister. I’m admittedly curious as I too have been contacted by someone who is “perhaps on a wheelchair”and I’d love to get further clarification. (I pictured him standing next to it, looking at it, maybe scratching his head in consideration, before jumping on to it.)

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Thanks T.O.! The barrister has not contacted me but lots of anguished millionaire women have. I can’t believe these millionaires don’t have more friends. So sad.


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