2012.06.06 The million $$ question

Written by David Green.

Life was so easy when there were kids running around the house. At least one facet of life was easier: It wasn’t so hard to think up something to write for a column every week.

In 1992 I was writing about becoming a millionaire. Now, 20 years later, I don’t suppose that means so much. It’s a billion dollars that people want, not a measly million. Think how fast a million would disappear.

I spent all day Saturday with state track meet business and I’ve been catching up ever since, so here’s something from June 3, 1992. I should have attended the track meet that year. Angie Sneider won two firsts, a second and a third and Morenci took second in the state as a team, even though it was only Angie competing for us.

That was back in the old days when I didn’t yet know enough to attend the state meet. I had kids to play with.


“What is a millionaire, Zippy?”

I saw that line in a strange cartoon called Zippy. The person asking the question wondered if millionaires use better toothpaste and better toilet tissue.

When he was asked what he would do if he had a million dollars, Zippy said he would buy a large wing-back chair and a bubble gum cigar. Zip is a peculiar character. When he thought about it a little more, he added these wishes: “I’d also wear my underwear on the outside…and change them every half hour.”

Now there’s the sign of a wealthy guy. Few can afford to do that.

I asked my kids what they would do if they had all the money they wanted, and their answers surprised me.

Ben, 9, started off with a new bike and speedometer, then he advanced on to a television and VCR. Then he came back down a little: “A lot more models and paint and glue. A new alarm clock. A watch that works, that’s waterproof.”

I was expecting to hear things such as a mini-van and his own McDonald’s franchise.

Rosie, 6, thought she might get a new house, but not until she was old enough. For now, she’d settle on flowers and food plants and fruit. It sounds as though she’s been harangued by her parents. It sounds as though we have yet to plant our garden, and that’s mostly true.

Next was Maddy’s turn. What would the three-year-old do with all the money she wanted?

“Eat it all,” she answered. Now that sounds like something Zippy might come up with. The problem is that she thought I said “honey” instead of “money.”

Once I got her straightened out about that, she said she would buy a hundred things. 

“A refrigerator, if I had my own house. A pretend dog. I mean a real one. And, uh, bananas. Bread. Honey on peanut butter. A water bottle. And a door.” And then looking around the room, “That’s all I have. I’m done.”

Zippy got me to thinking about what a million would mean to me. Just get rid of my mortgages and I’d feel rich. Or how about this—paid health insurance with no deductible. I’d be able to retire when I was 50!

If I suddenly had a huge quantity of money, it seems as though I’d get everything paid off that isn’t still owned in partnership with the bank. One choice would be to leave this job behind and live off my money, but it seems instead I would just buy some new equipment for the Observer rather than leave the place. Have a little more fun with modern technology, just to see what I could do with it. Hire another person or two, work fairly normal hours instead of staring at this computer monitor until 3 a.m. That sounds rich.

My wife brought me out of the reverie by saying what a drag it would be to have a million. Huh?

You’d just think about everything you want to buy, she says, and you would want more and more. She thinks it would be a good way to wreck your life.

She’s probably right, and besides, it’s not going to happen anyway. I might as well join Zippy and start buying more underwear.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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