Little Blue Flowers

Audrey finds little blue flowers, just a few, a species not otherwise seen, on the barren cliff rock of the Castle. Somehow the flowers have survived the endless beating of the sea, and the wind, and the salt in the water. She and Tutor dug them out of the crevice and carried them inside in a paper cup. Since then they have miraculously propagated, through their roots, on a bed of broken rock, and in a dish of brackish water. Mother keeps them in the small room, or nook, where she takes meals with Audrey.

One day, in her room, Tutor finds Audrey cross-legged, drawing with crayons on a tablet he has given her, about the most expensive present he can afford on a month's salary. In her picture: A Castle above which flies a pennant. The family’s emblem of a planet floating in space, with three words beneath, Own, Rule, Save. But above the planet she has emblazoned her own name, in an arc. A U D R E Y. About the base of the Castle is a ring or fringe of the lovely blue flowers, as if she had replanted them, and above the Castle is a rainbow, though there is not one cloud in the sky.

As editor, and Omniscient narrator pro tem, I realize that a moral is not necessary and may actually detract from the parable, but I do have to stay busy if I am to justify my job, and payment is by the word. It seems to me, then, that what the parable points out is that by identifying with Dynastic Wealth and living in and through our betters, we have not betrayed ourselves, our common humanity, the body politic, and the suffering world if and only if we can, as Secular Priests, and Dads and Mothers for Hire, and so forth, rear an Audrey to rule us wisely. It is not a question of democracy, plutocracy, oligarchy,  tyranny, or monarchy, it is just a question of following a Leader who can save us. Who better to save than she who owns and rules us? We save what we own and govern and the rest goes to pieces. It may seem odd in America to talk this way, but it sure does fit with every Ultra-High Net Worth Wealth Advisory conference I have attended or spoken at in the last ten years. Audrey, you would agree, if you see her at bedtime, as she falls asleep, and her breathing evens out, and she has that half smile of a dreaming child, is the hope of the world.

Flowers by Helicopter

The Queen has, as Queens do, many suitors; and so, many sprays and bouquets of flowers. They end up just above sea level in the Castle’s kitchens and servant’s quarters. The kitchen is forever redolent of pastry, and grilled meat, and beer, and also of flowers, as if life were an endless series of wedding or funerals. A new shipment of flowers has arrived by helicopter and Tutor has carried it in armfuls to the Queen’s chambers. As all licensed fool, and teacher in and out of season, he will occasionally hazard a Socratic question, just to keep his hand in, just in case there is ever an opening in the Castle for Wise Counsel, so he asks, “To what do you attribute this display of cut flowers, Your Highness?” To which she replies with a question for a question, “To what do you attribute them, Fool?” To which Tutor thinks fit to respond, “To your Four Capitals, Your Highness. Not just your Financial Capital, Your Highness, but also....." At which point, the Queen, with a wave of her hand interrupts, him, “No, it's all about my legs, Sweetie; now beat it. Take them down to the servant’s quarters.”

Tutor is a Soldier on Duty.  He would no more look at her legs, which are in fact fabulous, than would the Guard at Buckingham Palace whistle at the Queen, no matter how lovely. It is not the physical woman The Happy Tutor would  serve, but  the majesty of her Majesty, that it might pass forever in the Castle, without interruption, until the end of time. For this he gets thrupence a month, plus room and board, and the pleasure of perpetuity the best of our humanity. 

If I may, as Omniscient Narrator, add a comment, to help point the moral of this parable, it is only as we ordinary people align with an ideal, or a celebrity, or other ideal object of desire, like a brand, or a sports team, that even the poorest and most confused among us have something to live for. How many have lived and died, with "Long Live the Queen!" on their lips. Better a Queen than a Kardashian. To the extent we  can enlist the sympathies of the populace for dynastic wealth we will have earned our pay and done a service to humanity. I hope the new turn Gifthub has taken will lead to greater rewards all around. The flowers are fine, but I could use a raise.

"O Yes! How Interesting!," the Secret Lore of Silly Grownups

Most likely some day, perhaps in your lifetime, Audrey will inherit, own, and rule the world. She may also save it, if she so chooses, and unless she forgets. For now, though, she is 9.6, a red-haired menace to herself and others. Only The Happy Tutor, a big kid himself, one thousand years old, well past his second childhood, now into his 73rd childhood, can work with her on her own terms. If you were to peek into Audrey's room just now, as I did, in my capacity as Omniscient Narrator pro tem,  you would have seen them, Tutor and Audrey, somersaulting, in opposite directions, starting in the center of her room, bouncing off the far wall, like swimmers racing in a pool, and returning to the center. One large form tumbling not very fast, one small form going at much higher rpms. Audrey always wins, and Tutor, when they meet at the center, always bemoans it, "No fair! You always win! You are a real kid. I am sore all over." This is the process by which Tutor positions his most important moral tutorials; how he opens the child's mind to receive life-changing instruction.

Audrey has been sent to her room because at dinner Diamond Jack, the most trusted advisor, provided as a service by the Private Bank of Wealth Bondage, to form the minds, manners, morals, and mores (what he calls the Four Ms)  of the rising generation of Trust Beneficiaries, had told Audrey, "Young ladies finish all the food on their plate. Think about the starving children in Darien who would kill for those broiled Brussels sprouts." To which Audrey had seen fit to reply, "Fuck you!" At which point she was sent from the table, where Tutor, in his red waiter jacket, had been serving the meal, refilling the glasses, and standing at attention, when not needed, behind Mother's chair.  Tutor joined Audrey as soon as his other duties permitted. 

As Tutor and Audrey meet dead center in her room, Tutor imparts what he calls "secret knowledge from the silliest grownups." There are still Silly Grownups, but they are few, and most are over 500 years old, living on the margins of society, and their underground lore must remain secret. If the Stupid Grownups discover that here and there Silly Grownups still exist, the last ones will be rounded up and done away with. Tutor, winded from the exercise, swears his panting charge to secrecy. "Here is what I know. When a Stupid Grownup makes you mad, you must never say Fuck You out loud," he says. "But I can't help it," she says, "he makes me so mad. He is a big jerk. And Momma likes him. He picks on me." "Yes, but that is his job, kid. He gets paid to be a big jerk. Out of thousands who applied, he was chosen for reasons of aptitude, attitude, education, bearing, countenance, good manners, wide reading, wisdom, virtue, and presumption. Then he had to undergo years of training, being mentored by the biggest jerks in the whole world. They are gone now to their eternal rest, but Diamond Jack carries on the tradition, one he passes on to the newer Pompous Jerks in Service to Wealth coming up through the system. So, of course he makes you mad. Then, because you are so mad, you say Fuck you, then you get sent to your room, then he tells Momma how lucky she is to have him mentoring both her and you," says Tutor. "And then he says you are out of control and need a real Dad, fulltime, not just on retainer, and then he smiles, showing his big white teeth. You have seen him do it, and how Momma smiles back." "Fuck him! That asshole!," Audrey exclaims. "No, no, no, kid. Let me teach you the big secret, ok?" "Ok," she nods. "Let me see your hands; hold them out. When I say something stupid like a real grownup, you can say Fuck You to yourself quietly, and smile, and first clench your left hand, on Fuck, and then your right on You. Or, if you wish, you can do the same for Asshole. I think it is only one word, but two syllables. Clench on first and second. There is more, but lets rehearse, ok? Ready? 'Audrey, be a good little girl and eat all your delicious Brussels sprouts. The children in Darien only get candied carrots and lots of cake, which is bad for their teeth, dear." Audrey smiles like Shirley Temple and her little fists clench and open, first left then right. "Excellent, kid! But there is more. When you finish clenching and opening left and right hand, then and only then you say, 'How interesting!' and you open your eyes wide. Now let's try it, ok? I will be the Big Jerk,  ok? Ready? 'Now Audrey, you must learn to brush your hair like a good girl, or I will have to have the maid do it for you. Good girls take pride in their appearance. You must learn to be an asset to your family. That hair of yours is a personal liability,  but we can optimize it, with a good stiff brush. You must do the best you can with what you have, such as it is. Have you ever tried a dog brush for the wiry haired breeds?" Audrey's eyes flash, her body trembles, but her hands, stay in her lap, and go, clench, release, clench, release, and her face lights up in the Shirley Temple smile, "How interesting!"  "Good," Tutor says. "To make it even better, go like this, "'O Yes! How interesting!' Try it." And so they rehearse, as they do in Judo practice, until Audrey, no matter how she is provoked by a Stupid Grownup, can say, "'O Yes! How interesting!' with a big innocent smile, her hands in her lap, and mind like water.

For those of you who are children, whose Mother or Father is reading this story about Audrey to you at bedtime, never ever use bad language, unless you do it quietly to yourself. Be like like Momma, not Dad, when he's mad. Remember, eat your sprouts, and always brush your hair. And if you if you ever meet a Stupid Grownup, be very careful. They are bigger than you. They are very powerful, and you must treat them with respect, and agree with all they say, or they will send you to your room. You must wait your turn. Some day you can be a Big Jerk, too. Just never ever forget what it is like to be a kid. Only kids can save the world. The grownups have made the mess, and when they try to fix things, they only make it worse. That is a secret. I bet if you tell Momma, she will say, "O how interesting!" And then you will not know what to say, but you will know you are a very lucky kid, because your Momma is a Silly Grownup, after all. The kids in Darien don't have a Silly Grownup in the family. Count your blessings!

Building a Paper Trail at Story Time

Rich kids are often sheltered so it should come as no surprise that story time at The Old Castle is always supervised. Momma tonight is throwing a dinner party for three hundred dignateries in the Great Hall to honor the President of France, so she asks Gentleman Jack, her Most Trusted Advisor, to sit in for her in the arm chair, as Tutor tells Audrey, and now Rex, nestled between them, a bed time story, this one about Mighty Dog, and how he saved a little girl from drowning in her mother's Jacuzzi.

Gentleman Jack is typing a verbatim transcript on his iPad, "To be sure we maintain a contemporaneous record, so I can give a full and accurate accounting if or when I am deposed as an eye witness to The Happy Tutor's perfidious failure in his fiduciary responsibility as a Morals Tutor to impart Wisdom and Virtue at every opportunity to this young child's tender mind. The child's mind is like a fallow garden that he sows with Thistles and Tares. She never would have been at risk of drowning in The Queen Mother's Jacuzzi, in the first place, had he not insinuated the idea of giving that mutt a bath. Better that miserable dog were drowned. Disgraceful. She should have been given a purebred, perhaps a long haired Afghan, if she had to have a dog at all. I could have handled it if The Queen Mother had asked; no task is ever too small in Service to My Lady." 

Rex Gets his First Bath

Audrey dons her bathing suit to give Rex his first bath, in Momma's Jacuzzi. "Stop squirming, Rex," she says. "I have to get you clean. You are going to be a show dog." He could win best in class, too, if Westminster ever adds an Ugly Mutt category. Meanwhile the Jacuzzi is all plugged up with wiry dog hair. Momma had to call the plumber and Rex and Audrey are in lockdown in her bedroom until dinner time. Tutor claims he had nothing to do with it, but his shirt is soaking wet. He is doing time in the Dungeon. Gentleman Jack says it is just one more example of Tutor's "inveterate malfeasance." 

Enter Wise Master Jack in the Court of the Warrior Queen

Audrey tells Tutor she heard Wise Master Jack, the Corporate Trustee from the Bank of Wealth Bondage, say that Audrey needs a real father if she is ever to grow up into a Net Asset to the Family. Tess has no current suitors and no interest in marriage, but Master Jack suggests if Tess marries him not only will Audrey have a Responsible Role Model, but the Trustee fees that now go to his mentoring Audrey will be substantially reduced, offset by free parenting. Tutor tells Audrey not to worry, Momma has more sense.  I hope he is right, but Jack is a charming fellow, a Rhodes Scholar, who played football at Yale, still holds the record for touchdowns scored in a single season, and has a swashbuckling way with the women. In Wealth Bondage he is known as a closer. 

Meet Rex, Audrey's Rescue Dog

Audrey now has a dog from the pound, the sorriest mutt. She named him, Rex. The King of her Castle. With Momma's permission, Rex was Audrey's no cost XMass gift from Tutor. She picked him, as he sat at the dead end of the row of cages. Audrey chose him because he seemed so sad, as she sometimes is. It was only when she put her outstretched finger through the bars right under his nose that he risked even a tentative, hopeless, lick.

Now, when Wise Master Jack, The Most Trusted Advisor, and Corporate Trustee, courtesy of the Private Bank of Wealth Bondage, admonishes Audrey for her many flaws, Rex growls low in his throat and his stiff reddish brown fur stands up, not unlike Audrey's unruly red hair. 

Tutor, with Audrey and Rex in her big toy box, tells them how Diogenes, too, lived in a big barrel with his mangy dog. Audrey listens, wearing her plastic Joan of Arc helmet. With Rex we are off the conquer, rule, and save the world. Momma says we can, as long as we do it without leaving the toy box, much less the Castle. Of course if horses can fly, a toy box can have wings. 

What to give those who own all?


What to give a child whose mother owns a controlling interest in the world? Tutor took a number of vows on his ordination as a Catholic priest, in 1458, but the only one he has kept religiously is the vow of poverty. He has packs of Values Cards provided by vendors to help wealthy families, in an idle moment, decide what their values are. He could give a pack to Audrey. They could use them to build a castle, or could set them up like dominoes, to fall one by one. They could make a corral out of cards for her ponies. He could teach her to gamble, calling whether the card would fall face up or down. Instead, he decides to give her poster paper, crayons and markers. With those she can create whatever she wants.

As for Tess, The Warrior Queen of Wall Street, what do you get a young single mother who literally owns 51% of planetary wealth? Maybe a picture from Audrey, of a Castle, under a big yellow sun, ruled by a smiling Queen of the Squirrels? Maybe, to go with it, a nutcracker from Ebay and a bag of nuts? Since he cannot afford the Wooden Soldier, Tutor decides he might borrow the costume and crack The Queen Mother a nut in his teeth, each time Audrey bops him in the head.  She does have that big plastic baseball bat. She will love that game, and Momma might smile. She has not been sleeping well. Often he sees her sleepwalking, in the stone corridors, staring into the blue light of her iPad, trading commodities. The markets never sleep, nor can Tess. "You snooze you lose," she says. 51% is far from all. Double or nothing. One more trade.  Then again, why sacrifice his teeth in a good cause. Maybe the values cards are a better idea.

Four Capitals three of which are Liabilities

It is axiomatic in highest level wealth planning that families have "four capitals." Wealth is one, then there are several others, like social capital, intellectual capital, spiritual capital, political capital (pick any three beyond filthy lucre, or stock up on all five.) I mentioned this to The Happy Tutor, since I thought it might help him grow, protect and transmit the four Capitals from Tess, who now owns a controlling interest in the world, to Audrey, her 9.6 year old daughter whose mission is to own, rule, and save the world.

Now, be aware, Tutor is an ordained Catholic Priest with a degree from Oxford, class of 1457. While he did graduate, he was primarily known for roistering, as a close friend of Dr Rabelais, whose best medicine was laughter. Tutor is a bit antique in his outlook. He has not kept up to date with the latest innovations in Wealth and Virtue, Wealth and the Will of God, or Wealth and Wisdom consulting. He relies mostly on the Gospels, the Ten Commandments, and his own unique blend of moral instruction, Carnival, and corporal punishment. So, I would not take his reaction very seriously. But what he said was, "Capitals? Virtues are liabilities. Virtues are what we owe to God, parents, and neighbors. If we leave these bills unpaid we are morally bankrupt, and accounts are settled in hell, which starts in life, as the death of our humanity.  Check the commandments, and while you are at it, read up on Coveting. Why twice among the "shalt nots"? What is the point of emphasizing that there is more to our lives than coveting? Could this not be a message from God, via Moses, that we not worship false gods, the golden idol, or prostitute ourselves outside the holy of holies, when we can do better for ourselves inside, as we do, Phil, here in Wealth Bondage?" I warned you. Tutor is Tutor. I am amazed Tess, she who owns it all, has not yet exiled him for good. I would say the Ten Commandments are the biggest platitudes of all. You can't get very far in this business with those. Tutor's own dismal career should be a lesson to us all.

Queen of the Squirrels

Audrey sits in her Tutor's lap, showing him her drawing, "The King and Queen of the Squirrels." The Queen, with red hair, and with a long bushy tail curled over her crown, and her King, who also has a long bushy tail, are tossing out handfuls of nuts to their hungry squirrel-citizens. In the background is the Castle, and an orchard full of trees, where the worker squirrels harvest the Queen's crop. Today's lesson is: "Own, Rule, Share."

How we got to this happy moment is another story. Not an hour ago, Audrey, age 9.6, was pretending to be Queen of the Squirrels, with a rhinestone tiara on her head, and a long up-standing tail clipped to her waistband, and with her cheeks puffed out with nuts she would not share. Tutor, hoping to teach reciprocity, had pretended to be a starving worker-squirrel, begging for a nut; then, when that did not work, he had asked if he could be King of the Squirrels, while Audrey was the poor commoner starving because her mother was a worker who had no nuts. Audrey had run from the room shrieking, "No! All the nuts are mine!" Tutor had pursued her exclaiming, "Why can't I be King, for once, you little monster?" And she had replied, laughing over her shoulder, "Because your Momma's not rich! My Momma's rich! Everything in mine, mine, mine. I don't have to share. And you can't make me!" As he chased her down the stone stairs, her tail fell off. Tutor tripped on it, and had returned to her room bruised and fuming. "That kid may be fast and tricky, but no nine year old is going to beat me. If she is the last Princess, I ever tutor, I swear I will teach that kid to own, rule, and - by God! - share!" He had done fifty commando one arm push-ups to work off his anger, and had been meditating, with mind like water.  So it was a surprise when Audrey had plopped back in his lap with, "Tutor? Want to see what I made? It is a picture. See?"

"Hey, Audrey," Tutor says, "Thank you. But I am not King of the Squirrels. Some day you will find your Prince, and he will be a very lucky man." Tutor tells Audrey she must show Momma the drawing at bedtime; it just might save his job as Moral Mentor. So, as good bedtime stories do, this one ends with a hug all around, or maybe a yawn. But for all you twenty-five or so kids out there who really will inherit a controlling interest in the world, please, be like Audrey. Remember, kids: Own, Rule, and Share. Now, may angels sing you to your rest.

Across the room, in her arm chair, Momma has nodded off as well. All is right with the world.