A million dollars

My father was of the opinion, when I was little, that if I would have a shower I would “feel like a million dollars.” I did not believe him, but was willing to try the experiment. I was a dutiful child. In truth, I did not want a million dollars that badly, and anyway, it was in the time of Diefenbaker, when the Canadian dollar (“Diefenbucks”) was thought to be overvalued. Also, it was winter. Papa preferred cold showers. Surely some discount should be applied, for all-round discomfort. After all, to feel like a million dollars is less likely when one is cold and shivering.

“A million dollars” was, in light of these qualifications, and more that I could enumerate, to be taken as just a phrase. It was that kind of phrase known as a cliché, and therefore to be avoided in sophisticated adult conversation. There was a suggestion of vulgarity about it, as if one might stoop to pick up a million dollars, if it was found lying in the street. I once stooped to pick up a dollar bill that I found abandoned (on a sidewalk), but that was exceptional: I was a child.

The idea of “a million dollars” came back to me just now, while consulting a news website. I shouldn’t wish to embarrass the proprietors by revealing which one. It happened that every single advertisement at the bottom of the scroll mentioned “a million dollars,” in one connection or another. Two asked, I suppose not rhetorically, if a million dollars would be adequate for one’s retirement, another if it would at least be useful, and several more sported investment opportunities.

I am distantly aware, from life in the big city, that a million dollars will hardly buy a house, though perhaps it will purchase a flashy car. You could also perhaps pay the plumber, should you discover that your shower had run dry. In general, if you somehow earn a million dollars, then you will owe two million in taxes.