My father played Powerball. But not until the jackpot was, in his estimation, worth the drive over the border to New York State (because Jersey didn't sell Powerball tickets then), where he would also visit the Rockland Bakery, coming home with a half-eaten loaf of fresh Italian or challah or raisin bread, danish, and if I was lucky, a scone. This motivating figure was something over $50 million, so it wasn't often that he went to buy tickets. Still, he had his red-ink pencil-bubbled-in card--a study in numerology, some combination of birthdays and anniversaries and other dates whose importance we would never know--which he brought with him on each trip, as if he were a professional gambler.
I often wondered why he would drive the 20 minutes to New York to buy a lottery ticket for a jackpot that was $50 million when it wasn't worth driving there for, say, five million. But my father was not a man you could cross-examine.
We never did win the lottery.
My colleagues all bought a ticket today, and assumed I'd had, too. I hadn't.
"But when you start thinking about all of the things you'd do with a billion dollars," they reasoned, "you feel happy."
And maybe that's exactly why I didn't buy a ticket.
Not because I don't want to be happy, but because I don't need to buy disappointment.
Sure, it's entirely possible that I'd win. But if I don't?
Maybe I've spent one too many hours of my life dreaming and even planning about the probable futures that become impossible after all. I don't know if that makes me a pessimist, a realist, or a curmudgeon. But one thing is certain: it will never make me a lottery winner.
Did you buy a lottery ticket?