“My wife said to me, ‘If you won the lottery, would you still love me?’ I said, ‘Of course I would. I’d miss you, but I’d still love you.'” — Frank Carson

She’s upstairs in her office, the one that used to be a spare bedroom, preparing all the paperwork for the taxes. She has to do that because I am a freelancer, which technically means I’m a “vendor.”

That’s like that old Italian guy with the fruit stand near the subway entrance on my block in Brooklyn.

Let me explain: I sell my “wares” (my columns and other writings) to the highest bidder.

Now, the highest bidder is this one, this company, MaineToday Media, which publishes this paper. There probably are higher bidders for my work out there, but I stopped looking for them 30 years ago, when I was of an age to stop taking unnecessary financial risks with my life. I’ve been comfortable with MTM, because they pay me on time and I’m a “soft target,” which means they don’t really seem to know who I am, so I’m safe.

She, then, has to itemize my earnings, and that includes the sale of my book, the one you haven’t bought yet, “Will Write For Food,” which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local bookstore, or out of the trunk of my car, should you run into me in the parking lot of the supermarket. You may also feel free to flag me down on the interstate. I’m open to all choices.

Here’s what’s bothering me today: The air is full of noise about this humongous Powerball thing in the amount of $1.6 billion — the jackpot went to three winners in Florida, Tennessee and California — and I’m thinking I could really use some extra cash.

Oil and gas are cheaper this winter, and I drink pretty cheap wine, and I have all the winter clothes I need (27 hoodies and 12 sweaters). But the Christmas bills have started coming in, and it seems that we were much too generous with our daughters, and they with us. (They should worry. They are not “vendors”; they are actually employed, with real careers.)

And there is the ever present matter of snowblowing, roof clearing, etc.

Full disclosure. I bought a couple of Powerball tickets. I don’t usually buy them, but something fortuitous occurred this past week. After lunch at the Jin Yuan Chinese restaurant, I broke open my fortune cookie and the slip of paper said, “Great financial rewards are heading your way.”

OK, you can’t take things like that lightly.

Usually I ignore fortune cookies when they say, “A new love is entering your life,” and something like “Your wife is seeing another man” is silly.

But anything involving money, I take seriously. So I was in with the crowd on this week’s Powerball.

So how about this: I had a dream that She and I had purchased a private island in the South Pacific. It was so realistic. We looked much younger, tanner and fit. I could almost feel the balmy island breezes.

Now is that an omen, coming along with the fortune cookie, or what? I mean, you don’t buy private islands in the South Pacific on vendor earnings. Vendors usually live lives under “reduced circumstances.”

Let’s suppose I actually won a jackpot like this week’s Powerball someday. How would I handle that? I mean, She’s really good at handling the income of a vendor, but $1.6 billion? That’s a lot of vending. We would need top dog advice. We already have a wealth management guy, but he long ago decided we were too much trouble and not worth the effort.

We will have to decide on the lump sum payment or the annuity paid over 30 years. Thirty years? We’re beyond making 30-year decisions.

So we would take the one-time payment, which would come to only $930 million, before taxes. She’s calling me. She wants to know what I bought last April for $50.

Boy, I’ll be glad to win that $1.6 billion. I’ll be able to buy anything and not have to remember what it was.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer and author of “Will Write for Food,” a collection of his best Morning Sentinel columns.


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