"Okay, Frank. This is it. I'm sitting here in my office. This is my space. This is where I'm comfortable, happy, entirely engaged. This is where I come to think. I've got my chess set -- a 21st birthday present from the old man. My lamp -- you can call it ugly if you want, but I'm going to call it art deco. And try as she may, Jan's not gonna convince me to get rid of it -- no way, no how. A bottle of 12-year-old Macallan sits collecting dust in the corner. There ... on the wall ... photographic evidence of the 23-pound bass I caught on Big Stone Lake with Papaw back when a a good cigar and warm fire meant you were truly living. I'm surrounded by my books. I've moved more times than I care to remember in my life, but my books, God bless 'em, have always come with me.
In the next room I hear young Paul and Maddie playing make believe the way children are wont to do at that age. I swear sometimes I'm looking at her mother when I'm looking into Maddie's face. I wonder if Jan thinks the same when she sees Paul. Speaking of the Mrs., I note the faint drone of the garage door in the background and I know Jan is home. Jan ... my God. It's been 14 years. We were kids, for the love of Pete! I knew right away she was the one. Took a bit more convincing on her side, but she finally came around. I swear I don't deserve her, but the almighty works in mysterious ways and I'm not one to argue with a deity. A wise person once told me that all a man really needs are some good books, a bottle of fine single malt and family who'll love him no matter what. So why do I feel so, dare I say, uncertain?
Oh, you know why, Frank. You know why.
You see, I'm writing a letter to my accountant ... it's about my end-of-year finances. A gentleman never discusses his personal wealth, but suffice to say the last year's been tough. The last two months brutal. The market's been jerking me around like the mechanical bull we used to ride at the Tavern all those years ago. Back when the only worry I had was whether to trim my moustache or go 'brawny' as we called it ... a nod to the original commercial father figure who made even me think paper towels were right and good. I'm writing the letter with my lucky pen. I've had it for as long as I can remember. It's kept me from feeling the need to type things on a computer all these years. And you're not going to believe this, but I'll swear it's true to my dying day -- I've never had to change the ink in this darn thing. I like to say it's the Energizer bunny of writing implements. It just keeps ... well, you know the rest.
But I digress. Am I worried? Sure I'm worried. You'd have to have your head firmly planted in the sand not to be able to see the writing on the wall. So where can a guy like me ... a guy who's supporting a lovely wife and two kids who inspire the heck out of him each and every day ... find a little thing we like to call hope? I know it sounds dopey. And I know you'll probably roll your eyes. Heck, four months ago, I thought the only purpose a plate could serve would be to hang on to my food during the time between serving and eating. But dang it if I don't find my hope right here. In a plate. It's not just any old plate, though. This here's a collector's item. This is Barack Obama -- with confident smile and kind eyes to boot. You know, I never thought a politician could inspire me. I'm just about as jaded as they come when it come to all things political. Papaw used to tell me the only thing crookeder than Keslinger Road was those folks in Washington D.C. But I guess that all changed for me this past November.
Heck, a lot's changed since November. Back then Paul didn't need braces and Jan had a part time job. Now they cut her hours at the gift shop down to zero per week and here I am the sole bread winner and I'm all out of flour. So I guess that's why I'm writing this here letter with my lucky pen. And just when I think I don't recognize this crazy world anymore I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye at my commemorative Barack Obama plate. With 24-carat gold lettering and the seal of the United States Historical Society on the back. And a feeling consumes me like a warm blanket on the coldest night. Some call it confidence from within. Some call it faith. But me? I call it hope."