Well, apparently I‘m going to have to wait a little longer to be a billionaire. I bought two Powerball tickets for the historic $1.5 billion drawing and didn’t match so much as one stinking number on either ticket. I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t quit my job yesterday after all.
This was not my first brush with lottery letdown. I am hopelessly addicted to believing that life is a magical experience, chock full of meaningful coincidence and synchronicity, and I am forever looking for “signs” to guide me and confirm my beliefs. 34 years ago when I gave birth to my daughter, I was certain the stars had aligned to mark this momentous occasion with a generous gift. I checked into the hospital at precisely 7:40 a.m. and gave birth exactly twelve hours later at 7:40 p.m. on…wait for it…4/7! The message was clear—I was obviously being given the winning lottery numbers. I dispatched my husband to the nearest gas station to play the numbers zero, four and seven, in any order, for one week. Back in 1982, that was about as fancy as the Pennsylvania lottery got, three numbers, pulled daily. For the next seven days, I waited anxiously for the televised 6:30 drawing. Nope, not a single zero, four or seven was ever pulled that week. Apparently, the universe had decided my baby girl was gift enough, and I had to agree. She was more than enough.
I never gave the lottery much thought again until a few years ago when, once more, I felt I was being directed by powers greater than myself to buy a scratch-off ticket. It all started one day when I stepped out of my car at the gas station. Looking down, I saw an old scratch-off lottery ticket directly under my foot. I picked it up and tossed it in the trash. The very next day, when I got out of my car at a grocery store where I didn’t normally shop, another used scratch-off ticket was on the ground right beside my car. Hmm. Again, I picked it up and threw it in the trash. The third day, I was walking through the parking lot after work when what should appear in my path but yet another scratch-off ticket. Well, that was the clincher. I immediately headed to the nearest QuikTrip and added two $5.00 scratch-off tickets to my normal purchase of diet Snapple peach iced tea. My hands shaking in anticipation of hitting it big, I took a dime out of my wallet and began scratching off each square. When all were scratched and done, the only money I was holding was my dime.
So for the past two weeks, while billionaire fever infected seemingly everyone in the nation, my temperature remained a cool-headed 98.6. And then my husband, who was out of the country at the time, called and asked if I had bought any tickets. When I told him I was beyond falling for empty promises of quick riches via a set of magic numbers, he laughed, but urged me to pick up a couple tickets for fun. After all, I’d be participating in a historic event, he argued. The next day when I stopped at QuikTrip to satisfy my daily tea habit, I plunked down four bucks for two quick pick tickets. For the following 36 hours, I tried not to focus on the “what if” thoughts, but I couldn’t help furnishing a restored Tuscan villa in my head. By the evening of the drawing, “what if” had turned into “why not,” and I had pretty much settled on the design of the new swimming pool I was planning to add to my villa. Then, as both times before, my hopes were dashed. I don’t just lose, I lose thoroughly and completely. I don’t even come close, not one matching number, not one ho-hum prize, not even a measly bag of fries.
The next time I get the urge to buy a lottery ticket, I’m buying a couple extra bottles of Snapple instead. I believe a little Peach iced tea could taste quite refreshing on a hot Tuscan summer day.