When I was a kid, I was convinced that I was going to be a famous singer. I used to kneel by my bedroom window and sing along to my WHAM! tape with all my heart, just certain that a music scout was going to roll down my working-class Ohio street, hear my silvery tones and sign me on the spot. I felt that I brought a depth and maturity to the lyrics that belied my seven years, and that it was just a matter of time before I was wowing sold-out crowds somewhere. I felt the pain of George's Careless Whisper, and thrilled to the snarky anger in You can have my credit card baby, but keep your red hot fingers off of my heart lady...Once, when I was quizzing my mother about my prospects as a superstar, she delicately suggested that I might be overdoing the vibrato a bit. I figured she was just worried that she wouldn't get to see me enough once I started touring.
I didn't become singer. Believe me, you'd have read about it by now if I had (though I do know a startling number of Irish songs and oldies, due to my years in the sub-par bar business. You should hear me sing Long Black Veil in the shower; it's MAGICAL.)
To date, I also haven't written the great American novel (and by "great American" I mean published.) Or any novel, as far as that goes. I did have a brilliant flash of insight as to what my novel should be about yesterday though; a waitress, who works in an Irish bar, and drinks a little too much and makes a few, ah, poor choices when drunk but in the end finds true love and a rewarding, socially responsible career. (I know that ending sounds a little pat, but I've explored the alternate ending "...but in the end gets a job pushing paper, moves in with her sister and starts spending her Friday nights watching TV" and believe me, it doesn't have the necessary drama). Only problem is, when I started thinking about my peripheral characters, I realized that thinly disguising embarrassing stories about people at bars I still frequent is no way to garner free drinks, and free drinks are essential to the lifestyle I'm trying to maintain. The novel's on the back shelf for a while.
To recap, no recording contract, no novel, no true love. Hence--and I'm sure you'll see the logical progression here--the lottery. As you may have gathered from my earlier post on gambling, I'm a little compulsive. I know this about myself, and so I try not to play. But sometimes, when the jackpot gets high, events conspire against me and I fold. Once the ticket is in my hand, it's all over. My mind constantly flutters back to the subject of what I'll do with my milllions. I will be a kind, benevolent rich person, of course, but still there are details; will my cousins have to complete any sort of application to get access to the scholarship fund I'll set up? What if one of them is Republican--will he still be eligible? Where should my beach house be, east or west coast? (East, I think. Somewhere moody and sand duneish.)
I have rules for playing the lottery though, to try to stave off my inevitable trip to Gamblers Anonymous. They help me maintain the illusion of control.
1. Never play a certain set of numbers. This is crucial, because if I came up with a set of numbers and played them every week, they would definitely hit the one week I didn't make it and then I'd have to kill myself. Immediately.
2. Never buy tickets for someone else that I have no stake in. How would I feel if I knew that I had made a cash transaction for the winning ticket, held it in my hands, and passed it off? Suicidal, that's how.
3. I only play when the jackpot is over $200 million or I have a premonition. (Of course, when I say this, I'm not including scratch-offs. Those I play whenever I'm in a convenience store alone and have cash in my pocket. Ha, ha. Ha.)
4. I try not to buy tickets if there are people in line behind me. This is to avoid situatios like the one I faced last Friday, when I was buying my tickets (see 4a) at Giant. I am dead broke, so I was only going to buy one, and only that because my sister had one, and how would I feel if she won the lottery and I had no stake in it? Again, suicidal. But, as I waited for the clerk to stop talking and acknowledge me, a line formed behind me. I had time to study my fellow lottery hopefuls, and I realized with a sinking feeling that I would recognize them if I saw them on TV receiving that bog cardboard check. So I had to buy 6 tickets; one for each person in line, including me. This necessitated couting out nickels, but I'm not ashamed. After all, how would I feel if the guy in line behind me got the winning ticket? Do I even need to say it?
4a. I always wait until Friday to buy my ticket, because every night that I have a ticket before the drawing I have trouble falling asleep. My mind races, thinking of all that lovely money.
So, what would I have if I had a recording contract? A good voice, yes, it's true that I don't have that--but I'm talking about MONEY. Payola, baby. Greenbacks. If I had a published novel? More money than I have now, anyway, plus the right to start sentences with the phrase "That reminds me of something that happened at my book launch party..." If I won the lottery? Money of vourse, and all of the happiness it could buy. Also, a personal trainer and a house on an island, where you could totally come stay.
Did I mention that while I was dreaming about how to spend my lottery winnings, I forgot to deposit a check, which caused my account to overdraw? So money is kind of on my mind. Why the universe continues to conspire against me, I'll never know. I swear I'd be the same nice person if I were at least solvent, Universe! Try me!