"I see the price of gold is at an all time high," I read to Eartha from the paper. "That's because people are nervous about the value of the dollar, so the paranoid ones want to hold gold for security. They've forgotten that gold doesn't earn interest while it just sits there. They're the same weirdos who thought the world would come to a standstill when the clock struck 12:00 on January 1, 2000 and dug shelters, stocked survival supplies and loaded guns to protect themselves from the unprepared," I explained to her.
"Yes, I've been following it. I understand all that. I have decided to take your class ring and sell it for its gold content. I'm not a hoarder or a weirdo but I want to take advantage of their paranoia to get that top price."
"Wait a minute -- did I understand you to say you're selling my class ring?"
"You heard me right mister. You haven't worn that ring since six months after you graduated from high school. It's never been worth more than it is now."
"It's not a question of what it's worth, it's a question of sentiment. I'm sentimental about my graduation. I often think about all my old classmates."
"Are you kidding, you can't remember half their names and none of them could remember who you were at your last reunion."
"So you would sell my fondest memory for a few bucks? I suppose you'd sell my class picture too, wouldn't you?"
"I wouldn't get ten cents for your class picture. But tell me this -- if that ring is such a big deal to you, why don't you tell me where it is?"
"I haven't seen it lately, but isn't it in that little box of mine where I keep all my medals and good sportsmanship awards?"
"You never were a good sport -- those are participation ribbons for that walk you took for the children's fund. And no -- the ring isn't in that little box."
"Then where is it?"
"I have it locked away in a secret place and I'm not letting go of it."
"Are we so hard up we have to sell our family jewels?"
"We don't have any family jewels, but if we did, your old ring wouldn't be one of them."
"You know the history of gold goes back to 2600 BC and it's a picture of greed, treachery, backstabbing, betrayal, double crossing, intrigue and even murder."
"Which of those are you accusing me of?"
"All of the above except murder."
"While I'm not done yet mister."
"Gold brings out the worst in people. Some folks have claimed they can recover gold from seawater, but they're crooks. Prescott Jernagan ran a gold-seawater swindle in this country in the 1890's. Whenever there's a gold rush, like in Alaska, Colorado, the Black Hills or California in '49, people go crazy, trample all over one another and good folks become cheats. Are you sure you want to go there?"
"Only when gold reaches an all time high."
"Oh by the way, what about your precious class ring -- are you going to sell that too?"
"It's missing now -- I don't know where it is."
"So my ring will be sold and yours won't, is that it?"
"I guess that's about the long and short of it. I get the long and you get the short. Any more questions?"
"Yes -- just one. Do you want the gold from my teeth too?"
"Not yet. I can wait for that until...well, I can just wait until later."
To bring you up to date, she still hasn't sold the ring. She's waiting for the price of gold to go even higher. But there's a lesson in this story and it is this -- the lust for gold is now and always has been one of the most powerful evil forces known to man, certainly more powerful than the sentimental value of a class ring -- if it's somebody else's class ring.