I stayed up late Tuesday night and watched TV, holding five quick picks in my hand. One-by-one the winning lottery numbers began to appear as a line of ping pong balls rolled down the chute. I had the first number. I had the second number.
Then my luck ended.
I never tire of imagining myself a kajillionaire. I’m one of those people who play the lottery only when the jackpot reaches over 200 million. I figure I need at least that much to move from having a life to having a lifestyle.
When I start fantasizing about what I’d do with all that loot, the first items are always the same: quit work, pay off the house, buy a new car, make sure future health care needs are addressed. Oh, and do some good deeds.
But really, this line-up looks like a government-issue wish list. I’m a little embarrassed by how pedestrian my imaginings are.
Several years ago, I was standing in our department office at work and chatting with a friend about where we would live in New York City if we had all the money in the world.
“Oh, I’d get a nice two bedroom on the Upper West Side,” I said, picturing myself with golden light filtering in through old windows of a third-floor walk-up.
Pat looked at me incredulously. “That’s it?” she said. “That’s all you’d get with ‘all the money in the world’?
It was then that I realized even my dreams were trimmed to fit a Midwesterner’s notion of reasonable.
Clearly, I need to ratchet things up.
So here is my revised Mega Millions wish list. I’m thinking beyond the basics this time and directing my millions toward two areas: International Relations and the Environment.
- Underwrite hair, make-up and spa care for all past, current and future female Secretaries of State. Have you seen poor Hillary Clinton lately? She looks beyond exhausted—flat hair, dark circles under her eyes, swollen ankles. Give this woman a break! When your weekly commute is from Beijing to Riyadh, you need extra help. And let’s not quibble here: women in high-level positions have it harder than men when it comes to looking the part and slapping on a smile. For women, there are those extra steps with eye liner and blow dryers. I’m happy to support my country’s peace initiatives with Kerastase hair products and soothing Keith Jarrett CDs.
- And let’s not forget the men. I am delighted to transfer funds to the Treasury of the United States to pay for good hair cuts for every male politician in the federal government. Specifically, I would like to eradicate the scourge of comb-overs. By offering free hair cuts to our nation’s worst offenders, we not only can lop off long strands of hopeless hair, but we also can bring a sharper sense of reality to our governing. After all, why should I trust a man’s analysis of homeland security when he is in denial about his own receding hair line? I’m talking about you, Carl Levin!
- Moving to the environment. I know I have been accused of being a Nervous Nelly at times, but certainly we need to do something about the Grand Canyon. Fence in those rims, people! How many times have I stood at the North Rim in the radiance of wonder only to see a child dash to the edge and almost topple in? A chain-link fence doesn’t have to be ugly; there are new and tasteful designs these days. And, after all, what’s more important: an unencumbered view of the canyon or risking the life of a 50 year-old burro in search of an overly enthusiastic park visitor? Home Depot? Send me the bill.
- And about the National Parks and Monuments. I’ve been in many of them—even that tiny one in Montana where William Clarke carved his signature into a cliff side along the Yellowstone River. Wonderful place. But really, the park rangers’ uniforms? Just terrible. When it comes to fashion, we Americans have yards of talent. (And I’m not talking about that one unfortunate Olympics in the ‘80s when Montgomery Ward outfitted our athletes.) I’m calling on the King of the Contrived Outdoors, Ralph Lauren to lend a hand and I’ll foot the bill. We need Ralph to design snappy uniforms for our dedicated and hard-working park staff. Get rid of those high-waisted pants, do something—anything!—with the women’s attire. But, Ralph, please don’t touch the hats. They’re keepers.
So there you have it: my revised Mega Millions Wish List. I’ll be standing in line for a quick pick the next time the jackpot reaches 200 million. Who says a Midwesterner can’t push the limits of moderation?