Friday, August 17, 2012

Wanna Bet?

Last night my wife placed the big old smelly monkey of gambling on my back. Don't be surprised if I end up dirty, disheveled and impoverished, wandering the mean streets of Las Vegas, searching for loose change to put in one more nickel slot-machine before it's all said and done.

Apparently, without my knowledge, the Powerball jackpot lottery thingy had gotten up to more than $300 million. I was totally ignorant of this fact, and according to my wife, of many others. I've never paid attention to the lottery. Have you seen those people that stand at the cash register at the gas station purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets? You know the type. They'll spend endless amounts of time at the counter figuring out how many Lotto, quick-pick and scratch-off tickets that they can actually afford, and then they will ultimately buy $10 more. Do you know those people? I'm not one of them. I'm the guy standing behind those people just wanting to pay for his gas.

I have never been into buying lottery tickets. I've never really been into gambling of any kind. I have never had any kind of luck with that kind of stuff. In all my years of receiving scratch-off tickets in my Christmas stocking, I have won a grand total of $2, and I believe that I lost that ticket before I had it redeemed. Wagering and me just don't get along.

My wife was insistent that I go buy a ticket. She felt like it was my lucky day. I pleaded with her to look at my past track record. It would be better to just throw the money in the trash. At least we could save the fuel that I would be using on the way to the gas station. She kept telling me that I was due to have a lucky day. I couldn't argue with that. I was soon on my way.

As I entered the gas station, I could feel the gaze of the attendant fall upon me. I couldn't go up to her and just buy $10 worth of Powerball numbers. What kind of pathetic loser of a gambler would I look like then? No, I needed to camouflage my wagering addiction. I had to buy something else to throw her off the scent.

As I wandered the aisles determining what else I needed to purchase, I saw the soda display. Everyone can always use an extra 12-pack of pop stuck in their refrigerator, I thought to myself. So as I grabbed some Pepsi and started toward the register, I remembered some hogwash that my wife had uttered about not wanting anymore sugary drinks in the house. Great. Not only was I turning into a gambling addict, I was hooked on Pepsi too!

I reached down, quickly swapping the Pepsi for a twelve-pack of sugar-free Dr. Pepper, totally messing up their nicely arranged display. Now the attendant had a definite look of contempt in her eyes as our glances met from across the room. I decided I needed one more item to make the transaction look complete. In my nervousness, I grabbed the nearest thing. So as I made my way to the register with my sugar-free Dr. Pepper and package of eight Wonder Hamburger Buns, I was fairly confident that I had covered my gambling intentions.

As she rang up the total, I made small talk with her about the weather and coyly interjected the statement, "And while you're at it, why don't you give me $10 worth of Powerball tickets." There it was. The proverbial cat was out of the proverbial bag. Instead of handing me a phone number to get in contact with Gambler's Anonymous like I fully expected her to do, she instead told me about how everyone had been buying them that day. All I could think about was that Diet Dr. Pepper and hamburger bun purchases must have went through the roof that day.

When I left the store, and my nerves started to ease, I thought that maybe this lottery thing wasn't so bad. It was fairly painless, and apparently everyone was taking part. After all, it had only taken me $18.35 to get $10 worth of numbers, but what did I care ... in mere hours, I was going to be a multi-millionaire.

As I drove home, I dreamed of what my family would do with more than $300 million. My wife and I have always vowed that if we were ever mega-rich, we would never fold socks again. Instead of sitting around our living room, performing the mindless task of sorting through and folding all of our pairs of laundered socks, we would have a brand-spanking new pair for each and every day. And then, once a week, we would have our sock-butler gather up all of our once-worn hosiery and take them to an animal shelter where they could be made into leg-warmers for small dogs and dickies for short-haired cats. That's what we would do if we were wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. We have big dreams.

Later on that night, I turned on the television and eagerly anticipated watching those numbered ping-pong balls make me filthy rich. As they fell into position, I scanned the ticket with anxious eyes. Out of all the numbers listed on that piece of paper, only one matched. Ten dollars worth of numbers, and only one matched. I don't believe that I can over-emphasize this enough. Only one!

Now, I've crunched the statistics, and with all of my art school numerical knowledge, it seems almost mathematically impossible to only get one matching number on a $10 ticket. I think I'll look up that phone number for Gambler's Anonymous now.

Tonight, I plan on going home, sitting down in my chair, turning on "Storage Wars," folding some socks while eating a couple hamburger buns and washing them down with some delicious Diet Dr. Pepper. Yum.

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