How Much? — a short story

Posted on 2016 April 20



Know what you want to achieve prior to starting to negotiate. It’s the golden rule but the one most people fail to heed. Without a plan, you allow the opposing party to define your goals instead of the other way around. — Ivanka Trump

“Dad, you have privilege. You just can’t understand what it feels like to be a young woman in our merciless society.”


“We can be raped or killed. We’re disrespected by men. We hit our heads against glass ceilings imposed by the patriarchy.”

“Glass ceiling? Kiddo, you’re attending a posh university and doing brilliantly. Your mother and I couldn’t be prouder. There’s no ceiling there.”

“But after college it’s different.”

“So they say.”

“And you just don’t understand how your privilege can block people around you from achieving more.”

“So somehow I’m blocking you, but I can’t understand how? Because of my privilege?”


“Then why tell me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why explain to me that I can’t understand you … if I can’t understand you? It’s kind of a waste of time, don’t you think? Like someone talking to me in a foreign tongue, telling me I can’t understand him. Seems kind of … I dunno … redundant? Foolish?”

“Now you’re just sidestepping responsibility! You’re hiding behind your privilege to avoid facing facts.”

“I’m confused. It sounds like you think I’m hiding behind a wall of privilege so that I can’t understand you. If I couldn’t understand you in the first place, why would I need to wall up?”

“Look, Dad. It’s the privilege itself that’s preventing you from understanding. Your very position in life makes it hard for you to hear me.”

“Okay, let me get this straight. You believe I’d understand your situation better — all the hardships you face as a young woman — if I were to … what, relieve myself of my privilege?”

“Well, yes! But I don’t want you to walk away from Mom and this house and live in a cardboard box or anything. Just … a little bit less privilege.”

“So basically we white men owe you women and minorities some compensation for our unfair advantages.”

“That’s one way to put it, I suppose. It’d sure help us to deal better with life if you men were more understanding.”

“How much are we talking?”

“What do you mean?”

“Reparations. We’ve been unfair simply by possessing privilege, and the simplest way to set things right is by giving money. I sacrifice cash and become less wealthy and therefore less privileged, while the underdogs get more cash and therefore higher standing and more respect.”

“That’s oversimplified, but, well, yes.”

“You know I pay pretty high taxes already.”

“That’s not enough! There’s still a huge gap.”

“Got it. How about I give you a hundred bucks?”

“For me?”

“Who else? I hand you a hundred, you agree not to lecture me about my privilege for two weeks. Deal?”

“…Um, well, come to think of it, that would sure help a lot. You have no idea how much things can cost at college.”

“Oh, I have some idea. Hold on, gotta dig out my wallet … There you go. A nice, crisp C-note.”

“Thanks, Dad! … Whoa, look at the time. Gotta run!”


“Yes, Dad?”

“Try to call home at least once before the term is over. Mom misses you.”

“Sure, Dad. Love you! ’Bye!”


Posted in: Fiction, Humor, Politics