Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

You can’t play if you don’t win



By G.D. Maxwell

Racing down to the liquor store, still dazed and not entirely capable of sorting the real from the unreal, I grabbed the most expensive bottle of champagne I could find, an undistinguished vintage of Dom whose provenance aside, still carried a price tag north of $250. For good measure, I grabbed its six siblings and left a gaping hole in the store’s soldierly display.

"Celebration?" the clerk asked as she rang the bottles through.

"Sorta," I answered without elaboration.

Mustering all the presence of mind possible, I grabbed a bottle of aspirin from the pharmacy next door for what I knew would be a rugged morning after the night before. At the cash, I shot a furtive glance one more time at the numbers that would change my life in mysterious ways I couldn’t fully comprehend.

A monstrous SUV with, of course, Washington plates nearly clipped me as I stepped, not looking, into the parking lot. I smiled and waved at the perpetually perplexed driver. "Wonder if I oughta get me one of them?" I wondered. But maybe not. Having the dough to be an environmental terrorist and having the will are still two different things.

But then a sleek something or other caught my eye. "Italian," I surmised, guessing anything looking that fast standing still and having the haughty pretension to omit any sort of identifying nameplate or badge must cost a fortune and be fringe, the working definition of any noteworthy Italian car. "Look good in that, Jefe," envisioning tooling down the Killer Highway with the wind blowing in my hair.

Thoughts of vaguely sexual Italian cars gave birth to thoughts of a stable of vintage motorcycles which segued into thoughts about new motorcycles which spawned thoughts of taking delivery of a new Beemer and two-wheeling through Europe which brought me to the ultimate fantasy, pulling up next to some slack-jawed kid and tossing him the keys with a haughty, "You keep it; it’s almost out of gas." Blow the dude’s mind.

Jabbing myself with the working end of a knife hiding in the dishwater, I snapped back to reality. There was no Dom, no Italian stallion in the driveway, no fleet of old Bonnies and Black Shadows. There were more dishes to wash and the television in the other room admonishing me, "You can’t win if you don’t play."

Lotteries. Sucker games. A tax on the stupid. Or is that attacks.

The lottery, some lottery, is into real money this week, a couple of million or a couple of zillion dollars. Funny money altitude. The kind of money that puts a reasonably normal person into the ironic position of considering money worthless or at least meaningless, so much of it flows through their hands.

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