Thursday, February 5, 2009

You Lucky #%@&^%$

I’ve been thinking about luck. Our society is obsessed with luck or the lack of it. Luck pervades our language. There's a Lucky Magazine, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Lucky Charms Cereal. We thank our lucky stars. Some people have all the luck! There’s even the luck of the Irish. You can smoke Lucky Strikes. In China, they sell “Double Lucky” cigarettes. All those Chinese lung cancer patients must think they’re double lucky. Some people would rather be lucky than good. I'll bet most of those people just aren’t very good.
There’s Lady Luck. Of course, it’s mostly us guys who are always dreaming about getting “lucky”. And when your buddy scores, what do you say? “You lucky dog!” “Luck” is the phrase that pays in many social settings. When somebody gets fired you wish them "good luck" in the future. When somebody gets married: what do you say? “Good luck!” Today a friend e-mailed me a photo titled “one lucky dude”. My computer wouldn’t open the attachment. I never get a lucky break.
I played some of those scratch off lottery games and actually won. The prize was two more scratch off lottery tickets. Yep, they were both losers. Lotteries are scurrilous because they somehow seem winnable. Nobody notices those 4-bazzilion to one odds. Almost everybody knows somebody whose cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s hairdresser won a bundle. It’s that six degrees of separation that makes winning seem possible—except if you play the lottery, you’ll be separated from your money.
Most people know this. My wife Trina is always telling me that lotteries are a tax on stupid people. But every time that jackpot gets up around 230 million, I get stupid. Again. I just gotta buy a couple of those Power Ball tickets. All you need is a dollar and a dream! Yeehaw. Easy Street here I come…
And what about the lucky few who really do win the lottery? In 2002, Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. won the largest single-payout jackpot of all time. Andy took home a cool $114 million after taxes. Lucky stiff. They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but you can pick your own kind of misery. It appears Andy did just that. Since winning that jackpot he’s been plagued by personal and legal troubles. DUI arrests, deaths in the family, an ugly divorce.
According to the Associated Press, a man named Michel Horton is a study in dumb luck. In the span of 10 days, Horton won two new cars. After reading that I started feeling lucky myself. Just this morning, I found a dime and four pennies lying on the street. One of the pennies is a 1948 wheat sheaf design. Trina is pretty excited. She thinks it’s probably worth a penny and a half.
Some people are convinced they can actually change their luck. They carry rabbit’s feet. (Those rabbits sure weren’t very lucky.) People collect charms, magical amulets and even pay good money for “lucky numbers”. Some travel to Vegas and bet the ranch on Lucky 7. Me, I think I’ll settle for happy go lucky. Yeah, I know… Good luck with that.

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