We’re kind of like a dream team, he and I—dreaming of what lies around the next bend or what we want to do when we retire. Hours cooped up together on cross country road trips can do that to you. I love to dream of clean bathrooms. He loves to point out potentially fabulous homes that look a lot like abandoned gas stations. Just what I need—contaminated ground water for my grandkids to play in.
One man’s daydream is another woman’s nightmare, I’ve discovered. He says he could live in every town and excuse for a town that we pass through on our way to real destinations, but I know he’s just messing with me. After all these years, I’ve learned to recognize the symptoms. His delusional attacks usually begin with a friendly, off-the-cuff comment like, “There you go, honey.” And the next thing I know, he’s telling me we could fix up some cute little three sided shack sitting beside the railroad tracks and live there happily ever after.
“Come on, babe, think of the possibilities!” he gushes. I did. I think there’s a possibility he could wind up living there by himself.
He doesn’t mean any of it. He just likes to get my goat. He thinks it’s funny to insinuate he might want to sell our house and buy a derelict hotel for us to live in instead. In Amityville. Then when I give him the emotional reaction he’s looking for, he never apologizes for playing mind games with me. A reaction is the point of the game I never win.
Maybe I’m a poor loser, but isn’t that called mental cruelty?
Here’s the thing—we don’t know how to fix up houses. All we know how to do is change light bulbs and . . . no, that’s it. Well, I can jiggle a toilet handle. But that doesn’t make us house flipping material. He can fix plumbing every time hell freezes over with no other options, but if his choices were to fix a broken pipe under the kitchen sink or go through a colonoscopy, I think he’d rather let a doctor examine his plumbing than try to repair ours.
So the odds that I'll agree to buy a handyman special in need of an exorcist are about as great as the chance that we'll win the lottery. And statistics say it’s more likely we’ll get hit by lightning in our own kitchen than win the pick—but that doesn’t stop us from buying a ticket.
Some people call the lottery the poor man’s retirement plan. And for a while, we tried to invest in that 401K. We even came up with a winning strategy no one else had ever thought of before—numerals that represented family birthdays. We had just enough people with just enough dates to fill up six numbers. Genius, right?
And then something went wrong—the Powerball threw in an extra number at the end of the normal series of six, but none of us had a birthday on the forty-third or the fifty-seventh of the month, so we didn’t know how to pick a seventh number.
We don’t play the lottery anymore. They screwed up our winning system.
Last week, I was sitting outside a Starbucks on a beautiful, balmy fall morning, slurping my coffee-flavored iced half and half, and catching up with a girlfriend. Across the patio from us sat three men talking and drinking their morning caffeine as well. Suddenly, one of the men stood up, walked over to some nearby bushes, and pulled out a piece of currency from under the foliage. He saw me watching him, waved his bounty in the air victoriously and, with a big grin, yelled to me, “It’s my lucky day!”
“It sure is,” I answered with a laugh.
“Guess I’ll go buy a lottery ticket!” he declared.
“Wow,” I thought, “you’re so stupid,” and I nodded in resignation at the delusional man.
Overwhelmed by the bitterness of my coffee and the quirk of fate I’d just observed, I threw out my venti cup and crossed my arms in irritation. I should have been the one seated next to that oleander. I’d have used the cash to support my local Starbucks instead of donating it to the closest Circle K.
Lotteries just may be the biggest scam ever foisted on an ignorant public. Wasn’t it Will Rogers who said the best way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your pocket? And have you ever read what the Bible says about get-rich-quick schemes? Proverbs declares that “whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” When I read about the ruined lives of lottery winners, all I can think is that winning is the punishment.
So now we’re back to dreaming. I dream of becoming an author and my husband dreams of ruining our marriage with the purchase of abandoned silos.
“Hey,” he said to me just now as we drove past a sign for St. Robert, Missouri. “We could live here! There’s a Starbucks here! We could live anywhere as long as it has a Starbucks,” he said.
(Photo courtesy of Bo Insogna's photostream at flickr.com)