Al Batt: Would you rather be rich or have $49 million to spend?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Rolling on a stinky, dead carp.

That wasn’t my idea of winning the lottery.

Al Batt

But it was my dog’s idea of hitting the jackpot.

A sweet voice on the phone said, “You’ve won the lottery.” 

That didn’t happen, although an occasional crooked caller has all but guaranteed that. 

I dreamed I’d become a billionaire by starting a company that made “Now hiring” signs.

And I dreamed I’d won $49 million in a lottery. Or I dreamed I’d lost the lottery and owed $49 million. Dreaming can be fuzzy, but it was a daydream. I never dream about wealth (at least that I can recall), but it’s hard not to consider the possibilities when awake. Besides, it was on April Fool’s Day. What better time for fanciful dreaming?

It’s a surprise for anyone to win the lottery, except for criminals who have tilted the world in their favor. It would be an immense surprise for me to win the lottery as I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket other than as a gift for my mother-in-law. She enjoyed winning the rare dollar or two. It’s unfair that I have to buy a lottery ticket to win the lottery. That silly rule discriminates against frugal guys like me and math majors who refuse to buy a lottery ticket. 

I learned about being rich from the Fiddler and Horatio.

“Fiddler on the Roof” taught me, “Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man. I wouldn’t have to work hard. Yubby deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.”

Horatio Alger was a prolific 19th-century American author, known for his formulaic juvenile novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble beginnings to lives of respectable middle-class security and comfort through hard work, struggle, determination, courage and honesty. None of them won the lottery. They didn’t even rent a lottery ticket.

My neighbor Crandall,  who monitors the sky hoping to see flying pigs, says work is nothing more than something to keep him busy until he wins the lottery. He abides by the proverb, “How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward.” He claims that if he had all the money he’s spent buying lottery tickets, it would be like winning the lottery. If he won $49 million in the lottery, he asserts he’d give a quarter of it to charity. That would leave him with only $48,999,999.75.

What would I do with $49 million? Buy a Lamborghini? No, I like the car I have. It’s properly aged with just the right amount of experience. Plus, I can spell its name. Become a politician? Perish the thought. Get a new wallet? One that doesn’t require duct tape to survive? I might do that. Retire? And drive my poor wife crazy? Would I hire Loophole Louie to do my taxes? Maybe I’d have a refrigerator custom-built, which would have more room for what I like and less room for the stuff I don’t. Hire a stunt man to do all my shaving for me?

I’d do things I’ve never done before — take a selfie or eat Kool-Aid pickles. Maybe I’d take a selfie of me eating Kool-Aid pickles.

I’d buy a second home. Probably in Matawan, Minnesota, an unincorporated community with a population too small for anyone to count and the Cobb River flowing nearby. The elevation in Matawan is 1,148 feet, which is my favorite elevation. It has an unnamed mountain that towers above the surrounding landscape from its lofty 1,151 feet. Matawan had a post office from 1907 to 1972, so it doesn’t have its own zip code, but has a reliable rural mail carrier. Few people can say they live in Matawan. That makes that wonderful place an exclusive community without a gate.

The world is filled with endless possibilities for a lottery winner. It’s my oyster. Shakespeare wrote in his comedy, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Why then the world’s mine oyster.” Perhaps it alluded to the possibility of finding a pearl in an oyster.

I’m good with my life as it is and I’m happy, but what would I do if I won $49 million?

I’d buy a full tank of gas.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.