Last week I learned that I'm a millionaire.
I always figured this kind of thing would make me so insanely excited I'd probably blow up or make a scene or something, but I've been so cool I even surprised myself. But it's been a full, action-packed life - four years in the Navy, nine years of 4-H, 33 years in newspapers, 40 years of marriage - and I've pretty much seen it all and done, well, several things.
'Congratulations!' began the e-mail I found waiting for me last week. 'You have won 1,250,000 euros.
'You have been awarded 1,250,000 euros in the Swiss Lotto satellite software e-mail lottery in which e-mail addresses are picked randomly by software power by the Internet through the worldwide Web site. Your e-mail was amongst those chosen this year for the Swiss Lotto satellite lottery . . .' And so on.
It was signed by my new best friend, Mr. David Bradley, who, according to the e-mail, is 'our fiduciary agent.'
Actually, I just kind of scanned the rest of it. To be honest, I was already thinking about ways I would spend all of my new euros - and yes, I do know that euros are worth more than dollars. I looked it up right away, and the euro is worth about $1.34 as I write this.
At that rate, my 1.25 million euros is worth something like $1.675 million in American money.
I think it's safe to say that I am now rich.
It's also safe to say that I am not going to change one iota. I'm still going to be the same polite, down-to-earth, everyday guy I was before. And, just like the waitresses and millworkers who win the lottery, I am going to keep my job.
Even though I will turn 60 at the end of the summer, I have no intention of retiring. Ever. I firmly believe that retirement is just the first big step toward dying, and I'm not that sold on the idea of dying - not yet, anyway.
So, I'm going to keep writing and editing and laying out pages and sections for the newspaper. Why? Because I like it. It keeps a person young and vibrant to have stimulating work to do - and to have people call you up after the paper comes out and give you immediate feedback.
See, it's the feedback that really matters.
My dad was a logger almost all of his adult life, and the only feedback he ever got on his work was from his boss, wondering why he didn't do this or that, which, of course, always made him mad and probably had something to do with his decision to stop off at a tavern on his way home at night.
This, in turn, led to the other feedback he got, from my mom, about his drinking (she didn't approve), and that became another convenient reason for him to drink.
Now that I'm rich I'll probably buy most of my booze from the top shelf at the liquor store - you know, 15-year-old single-malt scotch, Patron tequila, only Tanqueray 10 for my martinis, that sort of thing. But always in moderation, of course.
I also have decided not to dump my wife and get a young trophy bride. After this many years of reading each other's minds, I wouldn't know how to deal with somebody else, and God knows I couldn't keep up with a new one, physically, mentally or any other way.
There is a rumor going around the office that the lotto I won is not real. But you have to remember that these nattering nabobs of negativism are your typical news media types, always just waiting for the chance to rain on somebody's parade.
One of them showed me this release about lottery scams which specifically mentioned the Swiss Lotto and pointed out such 'dead giveaways' as 'the return e-mail addresses are free Yahoo accounts,' 'The recipient 'won' without buying a ticket (so where does the money come from?),' 'For security reasons you're not allowed to talk to anyone about it (especially the police or consumerfraudreporting.org!), which ought to be odd since lotteries thrive on publicity' and so on.
Well, excuse me for having such excellent luck, you pathetic loser poor people. I think I'll just take the rest of the day off and have a drink. Here's to my buddy, David Bradley, the best damn fiduciary agent ever.
Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.