January 7, 2009

A memory

One humid summer afternoon when I was six years old, I was playing with my neighborhood friends Traci and Beau. Traci and I were the same age, and Beau must have been about four.

We were sitting on Beau’s front steps, pondering what to do with ourselves. “We could play hide and seek,” I suggested. We agreed that it was too hot for so much running. Traci suggested we play Barbies.

“My dad said I’m not allowed to play Barbies with you guys anymore,” Beau muttered.

While we were mulling over our options, the mailman arrived and handed Beau his family’s mail. On top was an envelope from Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes with bold, capitalized words saying, “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE JUST WON 10 MILLION DOLLARS!”

We instantly flipped out.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, YOU’RE RICH!” Traci and I cried, hopping around excitedly. Beau sat in a daze for a moment as this knowledge sunk in, and then he was jumping up and down with excitement as well.

We immediately began to make plans for the money. Traci and I practically fell over each other shouting out suggestions for how it should be spent. “You can build the biggest tree house in the world!” I cried.

“You can buy your own plane!” Traci added.

“You don’t ever have to go to school again!” We were both envious of this.

Beau happily joined in the planning and, because he was a sweet little boy, said, “I’ll give you guys some money, too!” We all danced with joy.

Too impatient to wait for Beau’s mother to get home so we could break the news to her, we ran inside Traci’s house to tell her mother about the Corbett family’s new-found fortune. She laughed and broke the news to us that everyone got those notices—that she’d gotten them in the mail, too—and that it didn’t actually mean anyone had one 10 million dollars. And…just like that…we were crestfallen. Our plans for trampolines and brand new bikes and an endless supply of Doritos were gone.

I would give anything for five minutes of such pure, unadulterated joy again.

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