The world tells us not to judge a book by its cover. It's good advice, I'll agree. However, if you're referring to the Book of Thomas, I'd have to disagree. You see, when you compare my family with the literary world, it'd be hard not to make a snap judgement, and even more difficult for that snap judgement to be incorrect. My family is a disgustingly obese genealogy book; it's the sort with big glossy black-and-white photos and sprawling lineage trees, coupled with the ever-present musty smell of the hundreds of dollar bills the capitalist lords overcharged you for it wafting at you through the gold-tinted, India-ink printed pages.

Yes, my family is what you, the bourgeoisie, the very stomach of America, would refer to as 'the blue bloods". We are the elitists. The snobby rich kids. The 2.65 percent of America whose only goal in life is to single ourselves out, away from the common man, and put ourselves on imaginary pedestals so high, that even God himself would look up and ask "Hey, how's the weather up there?" My grandfather was one of these creatures, my father as well, and, someday I supposed I would in turn fulfill the unspoken prophecy by becoming one. This isn't something one looks forward to but it's expected. Like it's expected for children at the age of five or six to learn how to ride a bike or recite their ABCs, it's expected for my sister Angela and myself to marry rich and continue on the family tradition of being the rich snobs that our families have always been.

Now, as you are reading this, you probably picture me to be one of those rebellious vegan, punk-rock 'black sheeps' of the family, the type who usually write stories like mine. In all actuality, I'd admit, I expected myself to be like that. But, in all honesty, I liked my money. Not that I appreciated what my family does with it, but to think about it realistically: If you were given 1.2 million dollars every month for doing nothing but sitting on your rear, typing meaningless numbers into a computer database, all the while providing millions of dollars in refined oil to power the world's most economically sound countries, would you turn it down?

I see. So, don't get on my case for enjoying my lifestyle, and I won't criticize you on your reading material.

As I sit down to write this on my computer, I am reminded that all good stories begin with 'Once Upon a Time'. Every one of these stories usually end with the hero capturing the princess' mouth in a heartfelt kiss, all the while managing to slay the evil vicious dragon who lurks just around the corner, but I'm afraid that there are no dragons in this story. The only monsters are the ones that you least expect to be; all the princess' so absorbed in their own inner monologues that if said hero happened by, they'd be too busy deciding on evening gown to notice. But, I digress back to the topic at hand: my own personal "Once Upon a Time".

Once upon a time, my father, Richard Thomas the Third, married my mother Rebecca Spencer (of the Julian Spencers, Esq). It was a charming wedding, filled with storybook happiness and, nine months later, I arrived. I was not the boy promised to him by the invisible god of fertility (or my mother's million dollar gynocologist), and so I brought with me my father's disappointment. Nevertheless, he seemed to put up with me until I was three, showing me off to his rich compadres, and tucking me into bed when he felt like being fatherly. This pseudo-happiness ended however when my younger sister Angela arrived.

Angela, or Angie as she calls herself, still was not the boy hoped for but somehow this fact didn't seem to anger my father as my own arrival had. Instead of subjecting her to a life of playing second-fiddle to the dog, Father doted on Angela as if she were the heir to the Trump family fortune. Nothing was too expensive or too extravagant for his little princess. Not that I am jealous or anything; you just have to understandmy father's levels of adoration. Angela ranked right up there with Cristal and BMW, and I next to the stainless steel trashcan by his office desk. Besides, neither my father nor myself has ever gotten along very well with the other, and I've just chalked it up to my being the first big disappointment of his life.

When I was nine, the long awaited heir to the Thomas fortune was produced by way of my youngest brother, Richard Thomas the Fourth. The moment that his wail pierced the silence of the Thomas family home for the very first time, my sister and I were forgotten and this little bratling was pushed to the top of our father's priority list. I eventually got used to people saying "I didn't know Richard had any daughters!" when I introduced myself; party invitations would be addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Richard Thomas and Son". It was as if Angela and I didn't exist. It did make for a relatively easy childhood, not having to dodge the embarrassment of being related to one of the richest men this side of the Mississippi River. And so we'd remained in seclusion for the past twelve years, waiting for Daddy Dearest to grace us with his presence at our graduations from high school, our eighteenth birthday parties or in my case, the celebration of the publication of my first book. But, we waited in vain as our darling father was too busy arranging little Rick's exclusive scholarships to exclusive all-male prep schools to attend such petty affairs as our Sweet Sixteen parties.

Do I sound bitter? Well, that's because I am. But, I won't get too detailed.

After all, I do have a story to tell, which leads me back to the original topic at hand.

Once upon a time...