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November 25, 2014 | Fiction

What I Could Buy

Leslie Pietrzyk

What I Could Buy photo

What I could buy with the insurance money they gave me when you died:

One Ferrari, red or black, assuming V-8 instead of V-12, assuming premium gas, assuming insurance, assuming no major breakdowns or repairs, assuming no super-long driving trips, assuming street parking, assuming ironic fuzzy dice to dangle off rear view mirror.  Or:

Four separate world cruises, assuming 107 days at sea, assuming Queen Mary 2 on the Cunard Line, assuming supplement for a single room, assuming balcony, assuming one glass of wine per night, assuming no more than twelve land excursions as arranged by the cruise ship personnel, assuming winning at the casino, assuming internet access, assuming laundry service.   Or:

Two years at Harvard Business School, assuming acceptance, assuming Cambridge sublet, assuming books and fees, assuming ramen noodles and pizza for most dinners, assuming public transportation, assuming roommate, assuming no significant social life.  Or:

1,000 water buffalo as purchased through Heifer International to help one thousand families in the Philippines become self-sufficient, assuming the charity is legitimate, assuming seventy-five percent of donations are used for the program mission as stated in the most recent annual report, assuming Charity Navigator ranking of three out of four stars and 55.66 out of 70 is correct and considered worthy of financial support. Or:

Seven in-ground swimming pools, assuming no diving boards.  Or:

Two shares of Berkshire Hathaway, assuming no sales commissions, assuming modern market volatility.  Or:

One-third of a moderate vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, assuming water but not ocean frontage, assuming parking for two cars, assuming three bedrooms and two bathrooms plus outdoor shower, assuming eat-in kitchen, assuming built-in bunk beds, assuming deck refinished by sellers, assuming hurricane insurance.  Or:

410 nights at the Fairmont San Francisco, assuming room tax rate of fifteen percent, assuming room service breakfasts, assuming five dollar daily tip for housekeeping, assuming free shoeshine, assuming no luggage storage, assuming one lost umbrella, assuming one stolen bathrobe, assuming no valet parking.  Or:

3,333 sweaters, assuming one hundred percent cashmere, assuming post-Christmas sale at the mall, assuming one coupon for fifteen percent off entire purchase, assuming sale items not excluded, assuming assortment of colors and styles.  Or:

One Patek Philippe ladies watch, assuming platinum, assuming moon phases subdial, assuming water resistant to 30 meters, assuming purchase in a state where sales tax is no more than five percent.  Or:

8,928 breakfasts, assuming 1785 packages of bacon, assuming 12 ounces, assuming thick cut, 744 dozen organic grocery store eggs, 1339 cartons of orange juice, and 595 pounds of coffee from Starbucks, assuming black coffee with no cream or sugar.  Or:

8,000 bottles of Johnnie Walker Red, assuming mixers necessary, or 1,086 bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue, assuming served neat, assuming different friends to appreciate each.  Or:

1,086 massages at the spa, assuming twenty percent tip, assuming free sauna, assuming free parking, assuming eighty minutes, assuming aromatherapy, assuming one post-massage product purchase every other visit.  Or:

84 purebred Labrador puppies, assuming two annual vet visits per puppy, assuming Iams dog food, assuming responsible breeders and no puppy mills or pet stores, assuming one chew toy per month, assuming leashes and collars.  Or:

11,904 movie tickets, assuming $6 buckets of popcorn, assuming $5 Diet Cokes, assuming $4 boxes of Junior Mints, assuming equal alternation between popcorn and Junior Mints, assuming the concession stand never runs out of Junior Mints.  Or:

71,428 packs of cigarettes, assuming purchased in North Carolina or Virginia, assuming never purchased in New York City, assuming Camels.  Or:

100,401 boxes of tissues, assuming Puff’s Plus Lotion brand, assuming decorative boxes, assuming an assortment of designs.  Or:

1,851 sunrise hot air balloon rides, assuming the premium package with the bottle of champagne and breakfast croissants, assuming commemorative flight certificate, assuming souvenir photo.  Or:

65 Super Bowl tickets, assuming reputable ticket broker, assuming lower level end zone, assuming frequent flyer plane ticket to city, assuming round trip taxi to game, assuming three beers at stadium, assuming one hot dog, assuming two night’s stay at Hampton Inn.  Or:

252,525 tubes of Chapstick, assuming strawberry flavor.  Or:

291,763 tulip bulbs, assuming delivery for fall planting, assuming no reprise of the 1637 Dutch tulip mania, assuming long-stemmed red and yellow, assuming half the bulbs will be eaten by squirrels before spring.  Or:

62,656 frozen Stouffer’s dinners, assuming none are on sale, assuming no coupons, assuming no tuna casserole.  Or:

10,879,000 pieces of paper, assuming white, assuming 24 pound, assuming 94 brightness, assuming laser printer quality, assuming delivery.   And:

Assuming this money isn’t tainted, assuming this much money is about right for what a human life is worth, assuming I don’t drive off a bridge in my grief and my guilt, assuming I can live with myself, assuming I can live.  Assuming a lot.


image: Tara Wray