Generally speaking, I am a horrible person. I am a terrible, terrible young man. I am every single thing that is wrong with my generation, and for all I know I am the cause for a good chunk of it.
But I don't gamble.
I have been in between some form of actually quitting smoking for years. When the situation calls for it I indulge in an alcoholic beverage or two. If I walked by a vacant building with numerous windows and I had a rock in my pocket — as I sometimes carry with me for such opportunities — there would be an absolute certainty of needless and unwarranted vandalism. I might even be the most hideous, hedonistic human being out there. Like my role model, I lie, I cheat, I steal. Sometimes I even litter, but only small items (and one time a couch).
But like I said, at least I don't gamble.
I am not morally opposed, I just feel like there should be one vice out there I don't actively engage in. So I don't gamble. The only things I scratch off are Monopoly game pieces from McDonald's and the only coin-operated machines I show my patronage toward release gaudy and obviously-fake jewelry.
However, that all changed last month. The Mega Millions jackpot matched Billy Gates' bankroll and the temptation of greed and propulsion toward self-destruction became too much to bear. I bought 10 lottery tickets for $10.
On the drive home from the gas station I ran every scenario through my head of what I would do with the money if I struck it rich. The only conclusion I reached was I wouldn't be donating a penny of it to charity.
There are two things I don't do. Gambling is one, donating is the other.
I watched the lottery drawing live on the Internet. I got the first number wrong on all 10 tickets right out of the gate. I didn't care what the other numbers were because I lost. I threw my tickets down in entitled protest, which Christine picked up for closer inspection. She said, "A couple of these numbers match."
Instantly my thoughts drifted to the vast fortunes we were to inherit as a result.
And for the first time I am announcing to everyone that we won. We had a winning ticket.
The prize of matching two numbers is one million dollars — give or take $999,999. That is to say we, make that I, won exactly one dollar.
Now you can have your billionaires, your millionaires and even your thousandaires. But I am a pennyaire, and one who is poised to perch upon the lap of luxury with his newfound fortunes. One-hundred shiny, new, and not-quite-made-out-of-copper-anymore pennies.
Because of how unfamiliar I am with the lottery I asked Christine to redeem the ticket at a gas station the next day. After a week without receiving my winnings I became worried. I chalked it up to it usually taking the lottery commission awhile to payout winners with a novelty and oversized check.
Nevertheless, I pondered financial affairs. Would I choose to get all of the money upfront in one lump sum? Or, would I choose to be paid incrementally over the next 30 years at a rate of three and one-third pennies per year?
Then Christine told me she misplaced the ticket. She consoled me by telling me the ticket had to be around here somewhere.
What a funny word, somewhere. Seems to me "somewhere" isn't a very good place to keep a winning lottery ticket at all. Eventually we found it — somehow.
In the meantime we have discussed what we will do with the money.
Christine wants to splurge on butterscotch and peppermint candies while I think we should invest in penny stocks. Or we could go on a huge spending spree at the dollar store.
They say a lotto winner blows through the money in the first five years.
With my luck that will probably wind up being the case for me.
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