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I sure wish I could daydream like everybody else. You know what I mean? The nice, warm, fuzzy daydreaming about winning
the lottery and stuff like that to help to pass the time.
I used to be able to do this. Many a car trip was made more bearable by conjuring up images of sudden riches, a trip I wanted
to take, even, uh... the new secretary that had joined our company last week. Daydreaming was fun! Then, I developed
this new and horrible habit. I learned to argue with myself!
Let me give you an example.
I'm on my way to L.A. last week. I pull onto the freeway and I am faced with a two-hour drive. I relax and try to set up a
scenario in my mind. I have just won a million dollars in the state lottery. First, I quit my job. Millionaires don't need jobs. Then,
I am ready to go shopping for that huge cabin cruiser I saw in a copy of "Boating Magazine" at my dentist's last month. I set the
cruise control and start imagining myself walking up the ramp to board my new boat. Suddenly, a thought interrupts this image.
If I win a million dollars... I don't get the million dollars all at once! They pay it over twenty years. I mull this over for a few
miles. One million dollars divided by twenty is... hmmm! Lemme see now. YIKES! That's only fifty thousand dollars a year. I
can't buy a cabin cruiser with just fifty thousand dollars. Another thought intrudes. INCOME TAX! I had forgotten income tax.
Another mile or so went by while I tried to figure how much state and federal tax would take out of my new fortune. I was left
with thirty five or so thousand dollars a year.
How the devil am I going to pay all my bills, buy a three hundred thousand dollar cabin cruiser, make mortgage payments on
the new house I want , car payments on the new car... I was starting to squirm in my seat. I could buy the boat on credit!
That's it! I could pay it off over the next twenty years. I tried to get my mind back to me standing on the foredeck of my new
boat. Another thought intruded. How much did I need for a down payment?
Geez! A boat was like a house, wasn't it? How much down? Ten per cent? Twenty? Twenty per cent of three hundred
thousand was... SIXTY THOUSAND dollars? I only HAD thirty five thousand. Maybe, I could cash in my retirement
money. I had thirty thousand coming if I retired now. That still only left me with five thousand dollars to live on for a year. How
could I make the monthly payments on the boat with only five thousand dollars left? How much would the payments be?
Another five or six miles passed by while I tried to figure what the monthly payments might be. I never was much good at math.
Lemme see now... sixty from three hundred left two hundred and forty. Over two years, that would be a thousand a
month. Forget THAT! I would have to go for a four or five year contract. Hmmm! Four or five hundred a month. I could
probably handle that. Uh Oh! Wait a minute! I'd forgotten interest. How much interest would they charge each month?
I realized I was gripping the steering wheel too hard. I tried to relax and took first one hand and then the other off the steering
wheel to shake some blood back into them. Where was I? Oh yeah... interest on the monthly payments. I had just used
up all my retirement money and STILL didn't have enough for the monthly payments. Much less enough to eat and pay my
current mortgage. Let alone buy a new house. What was I going to do now? I was starting to grip the steering wheel too hard
again. My fingers were going numb.
My brother-in-law. That's it! I can borrow enough from him to make it through the first year. Then, I would have the fifty
thousand a year coming in to pay him back. Oops! I forgot... thirty five thousand.
Mustn't forget the tax. OK... where was I?
I could borrow twenty thou from my bro-in-law. Pay him back next year. Four or five hundred a month payments on the boat.
Say six thousand dollars a year. Car payments and insurance... another four
thou... that's... uh... thirty thousand.
Sheesh! I was broke again.
I almost missed the turn off to the Long Beach Freeway. I skidded across three lanes and tried to force my mind back to my
million dollars. Where was I? Oh yeah... I had spent all my retirement money. I owed my bro-in-law twenty thousand dollars
and I still hadn't even set foot on the blasted boat! I tried again to relax. Geez! Now, my shoulders were starting to cramp.
Being in debt this way was making me a nervous wreak. Maybe, I should try to think about something else. I remembered the
hostess where I'd had dinner last night.
I decided to switch daydreams for the remainder of the trip. I settled back and tried to form an image of the hostess in my
mind. She was about ten years younger than I was. She had chatted with me while I waited for a table. She had volunteered
that she was divorced. She had even commented that she wouldn't mind being brought there on a date. Had she been flirting
with me? This was much better. I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders.
I could stop for dinner on the way home. I could invite her out on my next day off. That's it! Next Tuesday. I'll ask her for a
date for next Tuesday. Lemme see... where should I suggest we go? Not where she works. That would be tacky. Miles flew
by while I discarded one idea after another. A baseball game? Nah! Women don't like baseball games. The beach? A two hour
drive each way? Not for a first date.
Wait a minute! What if there wasn't any wait for a table like last time? What if I only had a minute or so to ask her out? What
would I say? WouldjaliketogooutwithmenextTuesday? How fast could I say that? I started to grip the steering wheel harder
and remembered that she had leaned close to me whenever I had asked her a question. Maybe she was hard of hearing? If I
only had a couple of minutes to ask her, should I yell my question in her ear? Now, my palms were starting to sweat. I took
one hand off the steering wheel and wiped my palm on my pants. My shoulders were starting to cramp again too.
Did I really want to go out with a deaf woman? She was probably living with her daughter and her daughter's six kids. Her
daughter's husband might have a drinking problem. With six kids running around the house, who WOULDN'T have a drinking
problem? Wait a minute! Maybe SHE had a drinking problem. Did I want to go out with a deaf woman who had a drinking
problem? Especially one that took care of six kids all day?
I was starting to chew on my upper lip now. How was I going to get out of this fix? Being broke and owing money to my
brother-in-law was better than being engaged to a deaf, drunk woman who was the sole support of a daughter, her no good
husband and six kids!
How had I gotten engaged anyway? I couldn't remember. It musta been sometime during the last ten miles or so. I started
looking at the freeway signs. San Diego? I didn't want to go to San Diego. How had I gotten on this freeway to San Diego? I
pulled off at the next off ramp. I got directions at a gas station and got back on going the right way this time. I settled back in
the seat and tried to relax. Maybe, I should have daydreamed about TEN million dollars!
With TEN million, I wouldn't have to borrow anything from my brother-in-law. I set the cruise control and started in again. Let's
see... after taxes, that would be three hundred and fifty a year over twenty years. I could pay cash for the boat and still
have fifty thou left. Or could I? Didn't boats like that have an excise tax or something? Twenty per cent or something like that?
Lemme see... twenty per cent of three hundred was... SIXTY THOUSAND dollars?
Sigh... I was broke again. And I still had an hour to go before I got there.
See what I mean?
I never did get to see the staterooms. Or the huge bait tanks. Or use the ship to shore radios the article talked about. I just kept
adding and multiplying and trying to figure out how to avoid bankruptcy all the way to
Oh yeah... and I decided not to ever eat at that restaurant again. I've got enough problems without getting engaged to a
woman like THAT!
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