It’s a game we all play: What would you do if you won the lottery, won big, won so big that you could frame your life any way you chose?
Except in the two ways I am about to tell you I don’t believe my life would change too significantly…or say, rather, that I would not initiate great changes. I like my home and think I would keep living in it. I enjoy household chores, fixing things, puttering in the yard and so on and except for hiring the occasional handyman or housecleaner I can imagine my life grinding on pretty much as it does now.
I might buy another motorcycle, but we have two already and motorcycles can only be enjoyed one at a time.
Whenever the what-would-you-do-if-you-won-the-lottery question is asked I think of my father’s friend Harvey Hayes. When my father was a young actor Harvey was an old one. He lived in a bed-sitter in Chicago’s South Shore Country Club. My father took me to visit Harvey once (I sat quietly while they rehearsed a scene together) and I can remember being fascinated by the fact that Mr. Hayes didn’t have a kitchen.
He had a sort of pantry with a small sink and a fridge, but he clearly never cooked. I asked him what he did for meals…his situation was now riveting…and he replied, “Well, young Arthur, I go to restaurants. I’m an actor, not a cook.”
That answer had a more profound effect on me than I suspected at the time. To that in a moment.
The minor change in my life that I would effect if I won the lottery is that I would have cut flowers delivered to my house every day, or every other day, and maintained by a florist service. I don’t like gardening, but I do love the results and if I could have the latter without the former I would be delighted.
And then I would never cook again. I simply loathe cooking. I know it’s supposed to creative and satisfying and all that, but I simply hate it. I dislike having to prepare a dinner for guests and getting all the courses to come out right at the right time. I would much rather treat my guests to a nice meal at an excellent restaurant. I could afford it since I had won the lottery.
Oh, I might have a small pantry kitchen like Harvey’s where I could keep some bread and peanut butter or a box of orange juice… something I could eat at the sink when I got peckish… but for the most part I would eat all my meals out.
At my favorite places I would be well known. As a regular I could ask for special service…”I’m not very hungry tonight, do you suppose the chef could do a plate of sliced tomatoes and romaine, with some nicely buttered sourdough toast?” Well of course…because I was a regular who had won the lottery and always tipped well.
And I would never cook again.