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To Catherine, Regarding the Absurdities of the California Gold Rush, 1849, by Matthew Brian Cohen

My Dearest Catherine,

We are heading by caravan to San Francisco, ready to mine for gold. Everyone is telling wild tales about how much gold there is in the city, but I don’t know how much I believe that. As you know, I’ve always been pretty level-headed. I mean, if there is gold, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not pinning my hopes to it. And I certainly don’t think there’s a city full of gold—that’d be ridiculous. What isn’t ridiculous, however, is vampires—more specifically, daywalkers, vampires who are not harmed by sunlight. As you know, normal vampires can be killed by exposure to sunlight, whereas daywalkers cannot. I know they’re out here, following us in broad daylight. And that’s creepy.

My Dearest Catherine,

My travel companions tell me there is so much gold in San Francisco that the streets are literally paved with it. But this seems too good to be true. Wouldn’t gold street be much more impractical to travel on than a street made of ordinary stone or brick? And I find it hard to believe the San Francisco taxpayers were willing to pay for gold-paved streets, especially in this economy. How would that decision even get made? Was there a town referendum? A ballot initiative? It makes no sense, and certainly much less sense than my very plausible theory of daywalkers. Seriously, daywalkers could be right behind us. They don’t even need to hide in the shade. If that doesn’t scare you, you’ve got another thing coming.


My Dearest Catherine,

The men of my caravan say they hand out free gold bricks when you enter San Francisco. Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. Why would they give them out for free? Where is the incentive? Couldn’t you simply exit and re-enter the city an unlimited number of times to become infinitely wealthy? Seriously, these are very irresponsible municipal leaders if they approved such an easily abused wealth distribution policy. Someone should run against them for office. Especially in this economy. But I’ll let the citizens of San Francisco worry about that. I’m worried about the daywalkers. Normally, I can relax during the day, but not with these daywalkers milling about. Vampires not harmed by sunlight? Spooky.

My Dearest Catherine,

The men of the caravan are all talking about San Francisco’s ability to make gold just appear if you ask for it. This is ludicrous and violates everything we know about physics. Where is the gold coming from? Matter cannot be created or destroyed, period, full stop, end of discussion. Conservation of mass, people! Does the work of Antoine Lavoisier mean nothing to you? If I were to see this in even the most out-there dystopian science-fiction novel, my intelligence would be offended. There is no reasoning with these people and their ridiculous theories! Meanwhile, daywalkers could be hanging out anywhere—offering us food, giving us directions, even swimming at my swimming hole! Gives me the chills.

My Dearest Catherine,

Well, Catherine, I’ve made it to San Francisco, and you wouldn’t believe it. The streets actually are paved with gold, and there is gold literally falling from the sky. Everything they say is true. I’m currently entering and re-entering the city to cash in on that unlimited supply of gold bricks policy. I’ve really got to eat my hat. I have to admit, I was very, very wrong. And get this, the town is run by a very responsible and very polite group of daywalkers. I completely misjudged their character. They are excellent leaders and truly pillars of the community. I am proud to walk among them during the day.


Matthew Brian Cohen is a performer at the UCB Theater. He has written for Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update and The Onion News Network. His podcast, Lifescrapers: Tall Stories of American Lives, can be found on iTunes. His novel, Danny Disaster, can be found on Amazon. He is also on Twitter.

The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit, send an email to Brian Boone.

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