I am one of the few people who can claim they are money ahead on the State of Illinois. I can thank my friend Dave for that. We both turned eighteen in February, 1988. For me, it wasn’t that big of a birthday. I figured I would have cake and presents, I could vote in the presidential primary, but that was about it. However, Dave had big plans. On the night of his birthday, we drove down to the 7-Eleven to buy Playboy magazine and a lottery ticket.
Convenience stores by their very nature are not very big. Still, we managed to kill the better part of an hour while Dave tried to screw up enough courage to pick Playboy off the rack. He wanted me to buy one too, but I refused. I already had a subscription to Playboy. I wasn’t going to pay newsstand prices for articles I wasn’t going to read. I really had no desire to buy a lottery ticket either. The odds of winning only improve slightly if you play. Still, Dave wanted me to play with him and if we were ever going to leave 7-Eleven, it was up to me to play first.
Dave ushered me to the counter. I bought an instant ticket and used a dime to rub off three silver spots. To my surprise, I won two dollars. I was going to cash out, but Dave stopped me.
“No, you have to buy more lottery tickets!” he said. I didn’t want any more lottery tickets. I didn’t even want the first one. Still, it was his birthday. I was only out a dollar of my own money. Fine. I got two more lottery tickets. The first one was a dud. The second one I won another ticket.
“Isn’t this fun?” asked Dave. I just gave him a cold stare as I got what I hoped would be the last ticket. I scratched off the spots to reveal a trio of $50 icons.
“You’re right,” I said as I gathered my winnings in small bills. “This is fun! Thanks for making me play!” Dave didn’t respond, just walked out the door to the parking lot. His ticket was a bust, he didn’t buy Playboy magazine and he didn’t speak to me again for a week.