Back in ’89 I spent a buck on the Washington state lotto and hit for $100.

I remember this because it was the lovely September I worked as a sous chef for a restaurant in Spokane that was going to host George H W Bush. Lotto America, the precursor to Powerball, was around, but just not in Washington state.

Before that I lived in states where Lotto America was played; don’t think I ever won more than that initial $100.

Before that I was an involuntary southeast Asian tourist, the tribulations of which I recovered from in Europe. That often meant Monaco.

So I’m no stranger to gambling; I pop down to Ameristar once a month and work the $5 slots. As often as not I come home with extra cash in my pockets. But all of this is within strict limits, and the knowledge that most likely I will lose more than I take. In the long run.

And I see others like myself on the casino floors; steady eyed men and women, not thrill seekers, not out for something different than dinner and a movie. These are people who have figured the odds and are biding their time, waiting for the moment they will either win or go home.

It follows that I buy Powerball tickets. Two a week: 5 plays for each night. I buy these for our group at work, each of us contributing $3 each Wednesday and Saturday. I purchase a $15 ticket twice a week, always in Kansas, so in case we come into real money we can remain anonymous.

But mostly we follow this regimen to generate Monday morning water cooler talk: what should we do with that $230 win from Saturday night (Powerplay was 5)? What will we do with $1.5 billion (minus taxes and a whole buncha reality)?

So it was amusing tonight to see the innocence of first-timers lined up 5 deep at the local QT to purchase their 1-in-292-million ducat. Tomorrow morning they will berate themselves for spending that $3, forgetting all the excitement holding that paper possibility generated, all the mental fun they indulged in until right before 10:00 PM CST tonight, when the numbers invariably fall askew, and all that is left is the dregs of the bottle of red and wok tomorrow.

When they will wake, many of them, feeling as though they left a bar with the wrong person; whatever were they thinking of? They’re not that sorta person!

Cherry busted, they will say nothing to anyone, bite back their bitterness, preferring to adopt a silent, nearly condescending attitude to those vocal worthies unafraid to air their failed desires.

Until the next time.

Innocents no longer. And not a roll-topped Chevy backseat in the offing.

What have we come to? 1


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  1. Dang!  I need to pick up the Astas from their girl scout meeting at 7:30 PM. I wonder if I have time to swing by and get another ticket?

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