February 15, 2010

A million dollars or pooping treasures: The eternal question.

As you get older, you figure out certain barometers that can be used to judge people. It could be someone's favorite music, movies, TV shows, books, sports teams. Their favorite kind of alcohol, favorite season of the year, favorite candy bar, favorite thing with bacon on it. But no matter what it is, you find out what's important to you and, if you so desire, use this information to rank the opinions of people around you.

But I'm here to tell you that all of that is crap. There is one question, and only one question, that you need to ask everyone you meet so that you can decide, as Chuck Klosterman would put it, if you can really love them.

That question is, "Would you rather have a million dollars or the ability to poop treasures?"

This often requires clarification.

The million dollars aspect is just as it sounds: You would acquire a million dollars, tax-free, no strings attached. It doesn't matter where it came from; it would be in unmarked, non-sequential bills, and you are free to spend it how you see fit.

The pooping treasures part, however, is a little more complex. Once a week, every week, for the rest of your life, you will "poop a treasure." The word poop is not used literally; through rudimentary magic, the treasure will pop into existence from thin air in an area near your butt (just go with it). This will happen at the same time every week, a time decided upon by you. This will take approximately 10 seconds and will not hurt one bit. A litter box or some similarly sized receptacle will be noted as the preferred place for the treasure to materialize, although in the end, it's wherever you choose to deposit it.

The treasure will be an item often beneficial to your existence; it will never be detrimental, although it can be neutral. It can be as small as a dime, a matchbook or a a eraser. It can be as big as a briefcase, easel or large coffee table book (hence the necessity for a litter box-sized item). It will never be a piece of something; it will always come in full. And, if it is a item of clothing or a watch or anything else suited to a specific size of person, it will always be in your size.

One week, you could get a gold bar. The next week, it could be a thousand dollars in a roll of 20's. Of course, you could also get a nickel, a postal stamp, a thumbtack or a toenail clipper. The options are that varied.

Again, like the million dollars, these treasures will come with no strings attached. At the same time, you may not use your treasure power to achieve any kind of fame. Your close friends and family may be told about your new ability, but if the information spreads too wide, the treasures will cease to materialize.

Most people's first reaction is, "Obviously, I will take the million dollars." And that should be their immediate answer. A million dollars is an incredible amount of money that could change a person's life. Invested properly and used wisely, it could even be enough to set someone up for life.

Also, as a disclaimer, if the man or woman being asked has a sick relative, a legal issue that must be resolved, a cash-flow problem in their family or another serious, potentially life-threatening concern that could be bettered or even solved by money, they should obviously take the million dollars. They should probably even punch you in the fact for pushing on to the "or you could poop treasures!" part.

But let's say you live a modest, relatively hassle-free lifestyle. You have a job, or at least more than enough money to get by. You, like everyone else, could use a million dollars, but it's not imperative to your existence. If this is your situation, and you still choose the million dollars, take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. You've lost your zest for life; you may never had a zest at all.

This is because the question is a lot deeper than it seems. Take some time to examine it. On the surface, you get a lot of money. Hooray! But wouldn't you always live your life wondering what could have been? When the money runs out, and it probably will run out, will it have been worth it?

I don't think it would. It's not like the question is "a million dollars or zero dollars," although it may seem that way at the start. It's a million dollars or a mystery box every single week, a million dollars or a new adventure right around the corner, an adventure that doesn't end until you do.

Much of life is boring. Unless you have big plans on the weekend or an extremely attractive, amazingly adorable girl that you love to go home to every night, the weeks probably start to run together. But imagine that, every Friday, you get to poop a treasure. Every Friday, for the rest of your days, something exciting will happen.

And let's say you live for 50 more years. With 52 weeks in a year, that's 2,600 treasures. Odds are, at least a few of those will be pretty sweet. You'd really turn down 2,600 rolls of the dice, spins of the wheel, stones to overturn, for a check?

Maybe those who pick the check would come out on top at the end; maybe they'd have pooped out 2,600 pairs of Walmart sunglasses. Or maybe they'd have pooped out a pair of Ray-Bans, and then a Rolex, and then one hundred thousand dollars. It could happen; anything can happen. That's the whole point, and that's what makes it a risk worth taking.

You might disagree. You might think this is a fucking idiotic question to ask someone, especially if they're going to turn down free money. But then again, if that's how you feel, you're probably not someone I'd want to love, anyway.

I think this question means a lot. I think a person willing to take a chance, to invest in their continued existence rather than jump at the quick fix, is the kind of person I want to spend my time with. It's not all about money, even if you pick the treasures and root for the gold bar. It's about enjoying yourself, about finding out that you're driven by an inner curiosity, a child-like sense of wonder and anticipation, rather than a sterile, unimaginative greed.

The cold hard facts say that a million dollars is the rational choice, but right now, that's not for me. I want someone willing to throw rationale out the window. I want someone who longs to poop treasures.

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