You may have heard about the million-dollar lottery ticket that was sold in our little town a couple of weeks ago.
There hasn’t been so much excitement here since Cooter Brown thought he saw Sasquatch in the woods behind the Cottageville Mall (aka the Dollar General. And it turned out to be one of our goats on his hind legs, eating camellia buds.)
On the big day, I was running past the BP convenience store and saw an employee putting up letters on the roadside sign:” C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a” When I loped by again, four miles later, the sign read: “Congratulations to our million-dollar lottery winner!” I was so shocked I almost boomeranged off the beer delivery truck.
My first guess was that Widdle had struck it rich. He buys a few tickets every week, here and there. I find them in his bathroom and on the desk in our office, or tucked into the visor of his truck. It’s like a hobby and it costs less than golf, so who am I to complain?
I got all excited, until I realized I hadn’t seen him in a day or two. I grew suspicious… until I remembered he was off on one of his Florida fishing jaunts. A-twitter with anticipation, I called his cell.
The conversation went something like this.
Me: “Hey. Did you win the lottery?”
Widdle, warily: “Who wants to know?”
Me: “They had a million-dollar winner at the BP.”
W: “If it was me I’d have disconnected my phone already.” (Laughs uproariously.)
Me: Click. Dial tone.
I sat up half the night, sulking and thinking about that $1 million. Even though, as we all know, you don’t actually get a million bucks. After taxes you get roughly $29.37. Still, free money is free money.
Sure enough, the next day a lady came forward to claim the prize. She requested anonymity, and who can blame her? I’d go underground, too. She did say she bought the ticket when she stopped to buy some fried chicken for her husband’s lunch, which may be the only occasion in history when fried food has been good for you.
The truth is, I’ll never win the lottery, because to win you have to play. I don’t play because, despite having a college degree, I can’t figure the darn thing out. Quick-Pik or selected numbers? Megaplier? Mega Millions? S.C. Education Lottery? It all makes my eyes throb. I’m not even savvy enough to figure out the scratch-off tickets, besides which I’m too frugal to pay $10 for a chance to win $100,000.
When Widdle buys his three-dollar lottery tickets he occasionally brings home an extra and says, “This is yours.” Ha-ha-ha! If that turned out to be the big ‘un, he’d wrest it from my hands faster than you can say “community property.”
Like most of y’all, I enjoy mentally spending a windfall. After the obligatory 10 percent to charity, I’d buy some genuine Ray-Ban sunglasses, 10 pairs of Asics Gel-1160 running shoes, a cobblestone driveway (long story) and a house in Banner Elk, N.C. (you can take the gal out of North Carolina, but… you know the rest.) I’d also open a no-kill dog shelter and buy a cashew plantation because I eat bushels of them every week. I might even get my first-ever pedicure.
I wouldn’t forget Widdle, either. I’d buy him a fancy fishing rod and a live-bait shop in Florida. That’s love, friends. That’s love.
Julie R. Smith, who’d also buy a few new teeth, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.