Pretty much every time I buy lotto tickets I just go with the “quick pick” option because I don’t want the people at the grocery store to think I’m some kind of strange freak who is so into the lottery that I actually think I’m going to win, so I superstitiously choose lucky or important numbers. Because that would be weird if I was like that. It would be wrong. So I’m not like that at all. Ever. Unless of course I’m in a different neighborhood where I’m unlikely to be recognized by staff or patrons – in which case, I am all over it.
Unfortunately, you only get six numbers, and I’m constantly thinking of seven numbers that are super good. I’m mean, really great, excellent numbers, all with fantastic purpose, and then the person working the machine has to hand it back with a “HULLO - you have too many numbers” and I have to sit and decide which number is less meaningful than the other six. My birthdate? Uh, no. The age of my firstborn? 'Fraid not. The address of our first house? That's not right. Not eleven. That’s the best number ever. Gotta keep eleven... As you can imagine, it’s painful, really. For everyone involved.
Nobody wins with a ticket purchased from their home grocery store anyway. The big “We Sold the Winner” signs are only at places that sell nothing but wiper blades and grain alcohol. (There’s also usually tumbleweeds blowing by and harmonica music being played by a husky man in overalls sitting on a barrel should you be looking for them.) That’s why I stop at strange out-of-the-way gas stations even if I don’t need gas. Here's a little secret for you. The stranger the place, the better the odds of winning. You’re not ever going to hear, “And the 8 million dollar jackpot went to a 41-year-old mother of two who buys ten tickets each week with her two hundred dollars of groceries packed neatly in reusable bags at the Cherry Creek Safeway!” It’s more “Ninety-two-years-young Delores had never gambled, save for Wednesday night bingo down at the First Baptist Church, but something made her pull into the Gas-n-Getum in Hotchkiss last week where she spent $1 that’ll change her life forever.” Yeah? I bet Delores picked the annuity payout, dumb bitch.
Anyway, even though I tell my children I buy lottery tickets “to support our state parks and to help build wheelchair accessible trails so that the beauty of our state may be enjoyed by everyone, even the handicapable,” it’s really because I WANT TO WIN A LOT OF MONEY. I know that I probably won’t. But wouldn’t it be really cool if I did? That’s the best part of buying them, the dreaming part. The fantasizing that it might be me holding the ginormous cardboard check. I save up the little slips of paper with my numbers for several weeks, and then check them all at once… so far, nothin’ – but the anticipation is juicy and sweet. The weeks I don’t buy them, yeesh, it hurts to see the numbers then. They are invariably numbers I would’ve chosen. I am so not kidding. As the tuxedoed dude with the long Match Game ‘74 skinny microphone reads the little balls after the news, they sound so familiar. And I’m all, “Ohmygawd! Two! Our first house started with a two! I was totally going to pick two! Oh, fourteen! For the love of all that’s holy, that is my son’s birthday, and I ALWAYS pick fourteen! Damnity damn damn! Don’t do it, DO NOT BE 20… Can you even believe this shit? Of course it’s twenty. I used to be twenty! Who the hell didn’t let me buy tickets this week? That damned Safeway customer service desk is too crowded with friggin' old people!” And so on.
It’s a vicious and terrible addiction, but not one I’m likely to give up soon. I’d love to call in rich to work, but in the meantime, odds are good that I need to pay attention to some looming deadlines. Besides, eventually I’ll be an old woman with only a dollar to spend, cruising in my Crown Vic looking for petrol, and then check it out, hombre. You will be looking at a winner.