Monday, April 2, 2012

One Dollar

By Kathleen Bradean

Garce posted this topic a few weeks ago, but with the lotto hitting a record high jackpot this weekend, it certainly became a timely subject.

I'm not much of a gambler, but of course I bought a lotto ticket. Not because I think I have a shot in hell of winning, but that $1 sure buys some nice daydreams. So what would I do if I found myself suddenly disgusting wealthy? Let's overlook the things I'd do for family and friends, because that's a given, and it's private. Let's talk about the fun stuff instead.

I'd buy a house much closer to the beach. Why, I have no idea since I live only three miles from the beach and yet rarely go there. I don’t do sun; I don't do sand; and the water off our coast comes down from Alaska and even in the depths of summer it's cold. Plus, I once almost drowned in a rip tide so I have a hard time even being in swimming pools now. And yet, I'd like a house near the beach. I'd probably use it to lure friends to visit. Or maybe a house in New Orleans that I could share with friends coming to the Saints and Sinners literary festival, and to hang out during jazzfest and maybe even carnival. A vacation home. I've looked into it, and that would easily cost a couple million.

I'd really like to replace the vintage linoleum in my kitchen. And the terrible lighting fixtures. Maybe buy a new bathroom sink. I think the house remodel would run about twenty thousand. Unless I got new carpeting too, but let's not get crazy. "But KB, you'll have a new beach house!" you're probably thinking. Having a beach house and actually living there are two separate issues as far as I'm concerned. Besides, this hovel is almost paid for. Why abandon it just because I have some bucks? Not to mention that I finally know where to find things in my local supermarket, I really hate packing, and parking by the beach is a total nightmare.

Oh! A housekeeper! Someone to come in once a week to dust and clean. Before I started writing, I worked a second job to pay for a housekeeper. I gave up the second job and the cleaning crew to write. I really miss that luxury.

A coworker and I went to lunch today. We talked about what we'd do if we won the lotto. He suggested a time share for a private jet. Not own one, because he'd never fly often enough to make it pay off, but sharing it with a few other people would be good enough. He used to work for a venture capitalist who had one, and he says there's nothing like being able to fly on your agenda, not an airline's. I wouldn't know about that, being a strictly economy class kind of girl, but I'd like to. How much would that cost? Not a clue. Let's guess ten million. And why have a plane if you don't travel? So tack on a fifteen thousand per year so I can finally see the English Cemetery in Rome and Istanbul and Prague (for a start). On second thought, maybe I could just try flying first class. Save myself the ten million and only (only!) spend another five thousand a year on commercial airliners.

But why be so tight with my funds? We were talking filthy rich, right? So here's what I'd do with a couple million. I'd buy a historic mansion or a house with guest cabins somewhere scenic but not too remote and open a year-round writer's retreat. I'd pay writers gobs of money to be the artist in residence for a week and open up the cabins for writers. High speed internet connections, silent groves for contemplative walks, cozy nooks hidden all over the place, maybe even a lighthouse, and a huge dining table for communal dinners where everyone could get together in the evenings and talk as only writers can. I'd be willing to throw down ten million for that.

The wonderful thing about daydreaming about this stuff is that daydream money can be spent over and over again. In real life, once that dollar leaves your hand, it's spent, and you don’t get it back. That's why it's more fun to go on a mental shopping spree. So far, I see that I've only blown about thirty million of dream money. In reality, I'd invest rather than spend money like that. Because when it's real, it becomes a lot more dear. So while I like my $1 day dreams, I'm not so sure I'd actually want to win. (If I win though, I'm going to pretend I never said that.)


  1. Great post, Kathleen!

    Yes, I love being by the ocean - and I'll definitely come visit you in that historic mansion. But I don't want to own the place.

    (I should mention, in all fairness, that I do have a part time housekeeper - three days a week for $200/month! One of the advantages of living in Asia!)

  2. Lisabet - If I really wanted a cleaning crew I could probably afford one. I'd just have to give up something in exchange for it, probably travel, becasue that's my one true personal luxury. I can live with a dirty house. I can't live without travel.

  3. Fantasy is always nicer than reality. What would we do with that money? As you say, that dollar buys you daydreams, but that's probably what's all about. Professional gamblers never play the lottery because of the ridiculous odds. But what you;re buying is that thrilling piece of paper, knowing that if you had just the right numbers on it your life would change.


  4. Garce - and everything I read about the winners is such a nightmare that I figure I'm much better off with small victories at things that matter to me than a pile of cash... but I am willing to test that theory.

  5. A few years ago I went to see some stand-up comedy and Ivor Dembina was on (, if you're interested). He did a thing on gambling that stayed with me. The essence of it was that he'd used his last pound, this being the UK, to buy a lottery ticket; having the ticket in his pocket had enabled him to spend the entire day dreaming about what he could do if he'd won. Then he pointed out that the real value of a lottery ticket is the way it frees up your imagination. If anyone would give him a pound, he said, they too could dream. Someone offered a pound - and his comment was 'In that case, do I hear any advance on one? Two pounds, anyone?' He got it bid up to about five pounds within half a minute...

  6. Fulani - that's all kinds of brilliant.

  7. I love your dream houses, Kathleen. Of course, dream houses don't need maintenance or renovations. (Just saying. My kitchen, pantry & downstairs bathroom are all still works-in-progress.)

  8. Jean - I'm fantasizing enough money for maintenance too!


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