THE HUSBAND and wife who recently won the Maryland Lotto jackpot of $8.9 million said a curious thing at a news conference.
After winning what works out to $451,000 now and $446,000 in each of the next 19 years, the couple said they didn't want the money to change them.
I came across this stunning quote while reading the newspaper in the waiting room of a Mr. Tire outlet, where my 1980 Toyota was being outfitted with new radials by a fellow named Butch.
Although I understand what the Lotto-winning couple meant, it occurred to me at the time that if I won $8.9 mil, you would notice many changes in me -- the first being an immediate departure from the waiting room of this Mr. Tire.
No, I take that back. The first change you'd notice would be me swinging from the nearest chandelier while screaming: "I'M RICH! I'M RICH! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!"
This I would do for many days, or until the paramedics came and pried my little fingers from the chandelier and shot me full of Thorazine so I could calm down.
As I said, this would be the first change you would notice. But many other changes would soon follow.
The second change would be the absence of my 1980 Toyota Corolla, which would either be pushed off a cliff or set adrift on a burning barge, providing the tides were right.
Certainly, you would never again find me in a Mr. Tire, because in the future all my tire purchases would be handled by a lackey.
Maybe Butch, if he plays his cards right.
Yes, I could see myself rising at 11 in the morning and slipping Butch a $20 or whatever and saying: "Butch, take care of the tires, willya? I'm going back to sleep."
I think Butch would like this sort of work -- lackey, go-fer, aide-de-camp, toady, whatever you want to call it -- as it would get him away from the dirt and clutter and noise of Mr. Tire, where a person can hardly think for all the racket those air guns make.
Another change you would notice would be the replacement of my 10-year-old Toyota with a Mercedes or Jaguar or possibly even a Ferrari, depending on what colors were available and how strictly the local police monitor the speed limits.
Understand, this new car would not be bought simply for the sake of being ostentatious. It's just that you don't win $8.9 mil and tool around in a 10-year-old Toyota with a plastic air freshener (pine scent) hanging from the rearview mirror.
It just wouldn't do.
All I know is, when Arsenio started pulling down the big bucks, you didn't see him pricing Ford Festivas and anxiously asking the salesman if he'd kick in some free floor mats.
No, from what I hear, Arsenio went right to a Mercedes showroom, rustled up the requisite salesman in the rumpled plaid sports jacket, and said something like: "Gimme three of them and two of them and one of those."
As if it were a bakery or something.
God, is this a great country or what?
Another change you would notice on my behalf would involve my work habits. Specifically, I would no longer have any work habits, as I would no longer work.
I love these people who hit the lottery for $30 million or whatever and say: "Yeah, I'll be back at the fiber mill first thing in the morning."
What is wrong with those people? Half the fun of winning millions of bucks involves calling your boss from some saloon at 2 in the morning (with Springsteen wailing from the jukebox) and telling him to take a hike.
Or imagine the next day walking into your job at, say, Rite Aid and telling the boss: "You want that milk of magnesia stacked, pal? Stack it yourself. Better take care of the Di-Gel while you're at it, 'cause I'm outta here."
In fact, if I were running these lotteries, you wouldn't be allowed to work after hitting the jackpot for $10 million or so.
It might take some kind of constitutional amendment, but eventually we'd have a warning printed on each lottery ticket, something to the effect of ". . . and those knuckleheads who insist on returning to work will be prohibited from doing so."
If they insist on working, we'd come up with some sort of punishment as a deterrent for future offenders.
Beheading, tarring and feathering, flogging . . . I'm just thinking out loud here.
Sure, the civil libertarians would be up in arms.
But they're always whining about something.