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Ya gotta play

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There is no doubt in my mind: I'm going to win the North Carolina Lottery.

Before moving here, I lived in several western states with lotteries, and never once played. Didn't know how, didn't approve. It never occurred to me to play here, either, until about a year after it started. I was at Food Lion and it hit me—"Mimi, you're a lucky person, you could play this sucker and win!" People do, after all. I'd read that even some statisticians play the lottery. However, I realized I couldn't win if I didn't have a horse in the race.

So I approached the counter, feeling nervous and flatfooted. But they were helpful. I chose Powerball, the game with the jaw-dropping jackpots. The numbers I picked all related to my beloved new husband: his age when I met him (that's how I knew I was lucky in the first place—I'd found him, right?), his birthday (Valentine's Day, same as my sweet daddy's—that was a sign, I knew), and the year of his birth (1950—iconic number—mid-century; the fact that he graduated high school and started college in super-cool 1968, just narrowly missed being drafted—that was lucky for sure!).

I realize now it was probably a mistake choosing specific numbers. Now I cannot miss a drawing lest my numbers come up. If I leave town, other people have to buy them for me, and what if they should forget? Definitely should've gone for "Quick Picks" randomly chosen by the machine.

Also, over time I've conceded I'm probably not going to win the major jackpot; however, I remain convinced I will win a smaller prize. To that end I have started paying double to ensure I get the chance to double, triple, quadruple or quintuple my winnings. I've won tickets of $3, $16 and $28, in that order. I feel sure the trend will continue until I've won enough to pay off all college debts for my daughter, my stepdaughter and my daughter's best friend. For karmic reasons, I've already picked out charities to which I shall donate lavishly when I win.

It's so fun to think about winning that occasionally even my husband, who's like I used to be (disapproving), will join me in naming what we'd do with the money. I know there are things "wrong" with the lottery: It's a tax on the poor; those who run it, not the schools, are raking in the money, etc. My mother considers it a crime, and my sister wrote a play in which a woman who'd won the jackpot decided not to claim it for ethical reasons. Can you imagine? My husband thinks winning huge amounts of money ruins people's lives, and that he would feel he hadn't earned the money. I know I wouldn't feel that way: I'd consider it a gift from God.

My ex-husband's family in Florida used to fantasize nonstop about winning the lottery. They were always telling each other, "If I win, maybe I'll toss you a bone." Back then, I considered them a pathetic bunch, but now that I'm a player myself, I understand.

I'd better hurry up and win, though, before the Democrats take office and I have to hand over an even larger percentage of my hard-earned winnings to the government.

But don't worry. I'll toss you a bone.

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