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JERRY NELSON

By Staff | May 22, 2009

We Americans are huge fans of fantasy. Evidence of this can be seen in such pop pap as “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” (not me, I guess) and the absurd belief that Daylight Savings Time somehow saves daylight. It doesn’t!

I’ve checked and daylight is still leaking out!

During these bleak economic times, it’s more and more common for folks to fantasize about being wealthy. My ultimate daydream is to have so much moolah that Warren Buffett calls me daily to beg for financial advice.

The definition of what it takes to be thought of as rich has changed considerably over the years. When I was a kid, having a million dollars was all but unimaginable. Nowadays, the uber-wealthy can easily find that kind of scratch between their couch cushions.

One of the easiest ways for people to indulge their fantasies of fantastic wealth is to play the lottery.

The standards for lottery jackpots have also evolved. I’ve actually heard people say, “I was going to buy some lotto tickets, but the jackpot was only $200 million. I’m going to hold off until it hits $300 million.”

I feel like saying, “Let me get this straight: If you hit the $200 million jackpot and take the instant payout, you’ll still have about half that sum even after Uncle Sam gets his share. You’re saying it would be a struggle to try to get by on only $100 million?!”

Gambling and the lottery hold no thrills for me. I guess that being a farmer all those years immunized me against such things. Rolling the dice and putting your family’s economic future on the line every spring makes other forms of wagering seem pathetic by comparison. It’s like riding a bicycle after becoming accustomed to a Harley.

My wife, however, has been known to buy the occasional lottery ticket. It’s a pretty safe bet that she hasn’t yet won big; if she had, she’d now be living in a posh Hawaiian beach home. It’s not entirely certain that I would be invited to join her due to my intractable lutefisk habit.

She also plays the video lottery once in a while. I have learned to keep my distance when she does this. If I stand nearby, she will invariably lose; if I keep my distance, she sometimes wins a small sum.

My wife’s knack for winning at video lotto is one of those mystical female powers I will never fathom, as foreign and enigmatic as the ability to give birth.

Like many, we will sometimes engage in a game of “what if,” as in “what if we won the Super Mega Colossal Jumbo Millions Jackpot?”

“After buying that beachside house in Hawaii,” said my wife recently, “I would want to travel. It would be great to have a photo album that looks like it came from the pages of National Geographic!”

Asked what I would buy should we somehow attain a King Midas level of wealth, I replied, “My wish list is short and simple: I”ve always wanted to own an airplane. There’s even a certain little single-seater I’ve had my eye on.”

“That’s nice. What airplane did you have in mind?”

“An F-16 Fighting Falcon complete with the M61A1 Vulcan cannon and a supply of Maverick air-to-surface missiles!”

“Why on earth would you want something like that?”

“Let’s just say that the guys who gave out all those wedgies back when I was in fifth grade will be awfully sorry if I ever win the lottery!”

“That’s silly! Think of something more practical.”

My second choice was at the ready. “The first thing I would buy a piece of land that’s as rich and flat and black as a slab of German chocolate cake. No hills, no sloughs, no rocks.

“Next, I would get a really cherry John Deere A. Or maybe an M Farmall. Or maybe both. Then I would buy a lineup of machinery to pull around behind the tractor. I would leisurely farm that land using the same kind of machinery we had when I was a kid. That would be so calm and relaxing!”

“I see. And how long would you continue to farm?”

“I dunno. I guess until the money is all gone.”

My wife should really quit rolling her eyes like that. If she isn’t careful, they might get stuck in that position.

And besides, it appears she won’t need to share her anticipated Super-Duper Millions Jackpot with me. It’s all but certain that I will soon be lolling around in my own personal jillion-dollar pile of cash.

Indeed, I may already be a winner! At least that’s what it says in this letter from Ed McMahon.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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