Life in Poland

The Lottery

I need to win the lottery and I’ve even bought a ticket. Maybe we’ll win. Somebody’s got to. If my posts take a sharp turn in the direction of exotic vacation destinations or how to wallpaper a room in 200 złoty bank notes, then you’ll know that we’ve won.

I mentioned before that I like to ask my students what they would do with a million dollars. It’s not just my sick curiosity. It is a good way to practice the 2nd conditional. Travel around the world is the answer given by most. Actually it goes like this, “If I had a million dollars, I would travel around the world.” moneyI make my students answer using the complete structure. If I had a million dollars, I too would like to travel around the world, but that is something which requires a bit of planning. I started to think about what I would do immediately, today, if somebody handed me a million dollars. Misiu has reminded me that a million dollars isn’t what it used to be, but I need a nice sum to use as an example and come on, someone handing me 10 million dollars is just plain ridiculous.

The first thing I would do is buy new socks Actually, I think I would buy 365 pairs of new socks. I’m serious. I have a real sock crisis going on. I have only 3 socks (not 3 pairs) that do not have a current or recently mended hole in them. That’s a pretty serious problem because usually when you visit someone in Poland you take off your shoes at the door. I have to strategically plan my sock-wearing to make sure I have a hole-free pair for public viewing.

Next, I would hit the kids book section at empik (it’s a large book store chain also with music, films and games) and the toy store where I would buy Lizzie the bike we keep visiting that she wants.

For Misiu, I would buy an entire new wardrobe. I mean I would like a new wardrobe for myself too, but that would require more time and some serious help of a stylist ‘cause I don’t have any fashion sense at all. Have you heard about my socks? For Misiu, clothes are something you need to keep yourself from being naked. He hates shopping for himself and the last time he bought anything was when we were in the US about 5 years ago. In case you are wondering how long it takes to wear out your clothes, it is about the 5 year mark. Misiu has holes on holes and is starting to look like a scarecrow excluding one very nice Gap jacket that he just started to wear last season after discovering it in the back of the wardrobe with the price tag from America still on it. “I thought it was yours,” he said. Yes, ‘cause everyone knows at the Gap I wear XXL.

Next, I would buy Misiu a monocle. I imagine that every rich guy has one. Then I would drop him off at Biedronka (OK, we don’t live in an exclusive neighborhood, so he could just walk there…or to Żabka. We’ve got 3 of them.) where he could inspect the ingredients list and prices of their grocery items and ask loudly, “Excuse me, please. How much does this block of lard cost? I absolutely must have it.”

I also got to wondering what it feels like for people who have that level of wealth or success? Now that I have children, I think about wealth in a different way. I used to think that it would be cool to travel somewhere or to buy something. Now I think how fantastic it would be to secure my children financially, to afford a top-notch education for them and, of course, to spoil them a little bit. It would be great if my wealth were a direct result of my hard work and achievement. Having said that, if someone handed me a million, I’d take it for sure. I’d also like to show my parents that I can take care of myself and my family because I know that they worry about us, and I’d like to put them at ease. Not that I’m all deep like that. I’d also like to show off a bit to some people from my past who were less than supportive of me. Do wealthy people once they are wealthy lose that desire to rub it in? I have to find a chylinskawealthy person and ask them. It’s like when Agnieszka Chylinska, Polish rock vocalist, accepting her Fryderyk music award at the beginning of her career gave a big “fuck off” to the teachers who said she would never make it in the music industry, but in later years when receiving an award said “nie będzie żadnych fucków” (“there won’t be any ‘fucks'”) in her acceptance speech. Did she lose the desire to rub it in? I will have to ask her because we run in the same circles. I wish.

I would also like to have a Pretty Woman moment. You know, being snubbed in an exclusive shop for looking too poor to shop there and then coming back to show off your shopping. There’s a simple explanation as to why that has never happened to me. I am too poor to shop in exclusive shops. Once I was told by the shoppretty woman assistant at Coccodrillo (It’s a kids clothing store and not considered exclusive.) that I couldn’t come in with my shopping cart. It was one of those car ones and I had Lizzie in the “car” part and Rosie in the shopping cart seat part and a lot of shopping in the cart part. I explained that my shopping cart is not any bigger than our baby carriage that we usually come shopping with and that I can’t very well park my family outside. “Sorry, store policy,” she explains. “But it is a weekday morning, the shop is large and there are not any other shoppers in sight,” I reply. Unfazed, she answers, “ No. Store policy.” If I had had the time and more importantly the money, I would have spent a bundle at Reserved Kids and come back shaking my bags saying “Big mistake. Huge.” just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman sans the big hat and Richard Gere. (Notice my use of the 3rd conditional above.)

All joking aside, this is what I would really do. First, I would pay off all my debts and then check if I had any money left 😉 If I had some left, I would arrange to install central heating in my house. I know, dream big. After that, I would book flights to America so that I could visit my family and introduce them to my children. (Before that I would have to get my children some US passports, but that part just takes all the fun out of my plan.) Next, I would get pregnant. I absolutely would and would continue to do so until the money or my womb gave way, whichever came first. If I were rich, I just might turn into the next reality TV mom with tons of kids and super pouty lips. Who could resist a huge bi-lingual family with a monocle-wearing Dad and a new-pair-of-socks-every-day-wearing Mom? Don’t laugh. You know that you’d tune in.

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