I am sitting in the cool, autumn air of the River Terrace Inn patio bar in Napa, a Tanqueray & Tonic in hand, staring at my winning lottery ticket. I am now a very, very rich man.
This week’s jackpot was a cool $40 million, which means I am stinking rich but not stupid rich. I went ahead and did the math: The lump sum payout is $22 million. I figure if I put a portion in ETFs, some in annuities, some in tax free bonds and maybe a fifth of it in private trust deed investments, I might earn 8% gross on the principal, or an annual after-tax income of just over $1M. Not Second Home in Monte Carlo Money, but not Apartment Next To The Refinery Money either.
My dad has a saying about boats that he applied to the lottery. He says that owning a boat was like standing in a cold shower while ripping up $100 dollar bills. Playing the lottery was the same thing, then, if the shower could dispense desperation and futility. My brother has a saying as well: Playing the lottery increases your chances of winning only slightly more than not playing at all. (So, yes, we Taylor Men have a lot of Sayings, and we’re apt to say them to you – whether you want to hear them or not – in a tone that’s slow and baritone, like the way God talked to Charleton Heston in those old Cecil B. DeMille movies. It’s totally annoying).
They are both right and wrong. In fact, it’s the reverse as far as my brother’s logic goes. You have zero chance of winning if you don’t play the lottery, whereas my chances were about one in twenty-six million after purchasing a ticket. This is infinitely better odds of winning, and also makes the act of playing infinitely more satisfying than my dad’s Shower From Hell.
Regardless, I am rich now, and my mind is simply a-flutter with the possibilities. I mean, think about it: What would you do right now, right in this very moment, if money stopped being a concern whatsoever? I am doing exactly that. I am at the most beautiful bar I could think of having a drink to celebrate and sharing my good fortune. (I would be celebrating with a glass of wine, by the way, but I shit you not, this $500 a night hotel serves freaking Layer Cake for its by the glass wine. Of course, I could afford a bottle of Screaming Eagle now, and just wash my hair in what I don’t drink, but that just strikes me as wasteful. At the moment).
My next thought is to take my kids on the dream vacation of a lifetime…like, take them to Disneyland and stay the night in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and I think there’s some program where you can get Mickey Mouse to fly in on a helicopter and give you a foot massage or something, so yeah, we’ll do that, too, because you haven’t lived until someone in a mouse costume with Michael Jackson gloves has laid their small, androgynous hands on your toes. Then again, the kids are still in school, and even though I might put them in private school now, they don’t get vacation time until Christmas break in December. So now it looks like I’m going to have to call fifteen of my closest friends and do a Guy’s Weekend in Tokyo. We’ll fly out there First Class, eat Endangered Species Sushi, massacre some karaoke with unsuspecting locals and have small, naked women walk on our backs, and then be back home Monday in time for work.
Why do people quit their jobs when they win the lottery? Because money can buy you time. Not all the time in the world, but all the time you would otherwise spend trying to make money. Time is priceless. Time is the greatest commodity of them all. The real question is, does money buy you happiness? The answer is yes, as long as the only things you’re unhappy about are the things that money can buy.
I am sitting in the cool autumn air of the River Terrace Inn patio bar in Napa, a Tanqueray & Tonic in hand, staring at my lottery ticket. I have allowed my mind to wander, and play joyfully with the possibility of actually winning this thing. And after slipping into my Little Rich Dude Fantasy, I am pleased to discover that the only happiness I’m missing is the kind that money can buy. I am sitting here, actually doing the first thing I would do if I won the lottery: Hanging out in the beautiful fall evening, enjoying a cocktail, sharing my thoughts. And the thought that occurs to me is if you get to the point where all you really need is Mickey Mouse rubbing your feet, a naked girl walking on your back, and something else besides freaking Layer Cake in your glass, then all’s well in the Meat & Potatoes Department of True Inner Happiness.
Not Actually Winning The Lottery Pairs With: 2014 Blackbird Vineyards Arise. You cannot swing a dead cat over your head in Napa Valley without hitting three wineries that tout their “Bordeaux credentials.” Though the whole Napa thing is supposed to be about its terroir similarities to Bordeaux, I’m kind of tired of hearing about it, as I keep thinking it makes Napa look like the desperate little sister that didn’t make it on the cheerleading squad. All that said, winemaker Aaron Pott and Blackbird Vineyards have more Bordeaux street cred than a guy named Francois riding a Solex through the Place des Quinconces. The 2014 Arise, their entry-level red blend, has somewhat of a lottery-winning price of $54 to be considered an everyday wine, but I’d put it up against a $150 Chateau Lynches Bages any day. At 38% Merlot, 32% Cabernet and 30% Cab Franc, it has both structure and refinement, though I’d get a half-case of these and see how it’s drinking about three years from now. My feeling is that all 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa vineyards is still pretty young, and it’s going to take another two years for it to really come to maturity, but when it does, this wine will massage your taste buds softer than a cartoon mouse’s big white glove.