1) "What time is the drawing?"
2) "What time is it NOW?!"
3) "WHERE'S THE NEAREST LIQUOR STORE?!"
This third question is often met with curious stares from onlookers who aren't aware of the context from which it was derived, but the point is: I KNOW that the odds of winning the lottery (1 in 41,416,353) are horrid compared to casino gaming. I KNOW that you have a much better chance of dying in a car accident on your way to purchasing a ticket and I AGREE that the lottery is, quite simply, "a tax on people who are bad at math."
And yet, numerous times over my six-month stint on unemployment, having been relegated to just a few dollars in my wallet and having tried to buy beer and come up short, I've soberly sought comfort in the delusions inherent in playing the lottery. I pick up a card, pretend that the numbers are coming to me telepathically, and mark the form completely at random. Sometimes I'll throw in a Quick Pick for good measure and I'm always sure to check the "cash value" box. (Really--who wants the jackpot in 26 annual payments?) I hand the completed card, with money, to the cashier who hands me an official ticket in return. And for the next few hours I can think of nothing else but the potential winning ticket now residing in my pocket. As the clock nears 7:57pm, I go to www.lottery.ca.gov, hit the "refresh" button a thousand times, and anxiously await the winning numbers. I nervously compare them to my own. 15? Damn, I had a 14! I was soo close! 25? I have that, right? I know I do. Oh my God, I didn't pick 25?! That's my fucking birthday!
I've never won - never even been close. And each time, upon realizing that I haven't made a mistake--I have in fact lost--I've felt like a total loser. Not loser like, "Why did I throw my money away?" More like, "I honestly can't believe I didn't win..."
So why am I suddenly playing regularly? And under the most pathetic circumstances?
It's not about the money, per se. That much I know for sure. I've never been in such a dire situation financially than I am now, and yet money has never been less important to me. Besides, I wouldn't even begin to know how to spend a lottery jackpot. Sure, I'd buy a house with a pool and yes, I'd have a second pool put in and filled with amniotic fluid, but then what?
No, it's not about being rich or being able to buy things. It's like, I've been unemployed for over six months and even though I was able to grow an amazing beard, somehow, I still feel unaccomplished. I've been given a generous block of free time and I've squandered it. I've done nothing. However, something tells me that if I were able to do nothing for just a little bit longer, I'd be able to come up with something. I'm sure of it. Winning the lottery would give me that chance.
Still, suddenly finding yourself in the company of a huge wad of cash, is never a totally positive experience. I'm reminded of when that young, fairly unattractive, woman won that insane Powerball jackpot a number of months ago. At the time, a female co-worker of mine said that she couldn't help but feel happy and sad for the woman. When I asked why, she said, "Well, I'm happy because now she has enough money to fix her face, but I feel bad because she'll never have a true friend."
I don't know what's sadder. The fact that she's right, or the fact that I wouldn't really care.