Along for the Rye’d
By Annabel Monaghan
I’m not exactly a winner. I have never competed in sports, so I can’t be 100% sure I wouldn’t have won, but the fact that I was never picked for a team gives me a pretty good idea. Even in matches of wits I’ve never prevailed. Spelling bees in particular always seemed like they should be my thing, but in the first and last spelling bee I ever entered I was eliminated by the word “neither.” I was outraged. I before E, people. There’s a reason we have rules.
I do love a game of chance, however. When I was 7 years old, I attended a ladies’ luncheon with my mother. I don’t know why I would have been at a ladies’ luncheon, but I assume there was some sort of babysitting snafu. As we walked in everyone was handed a raffle ticket. The grand prize was a diamond ring! I held that raffle ticket tight between my thumb and forefinger throughout the cocktail hour. I folded it and unfolded it throughout the actual luncheon, nearly rubbing the numbers off with each crease.
When the lady got up and read out the winning numbers, I was the winner. In my homemade dress and Mary Janes, I’d beaten all those grown women. I walked up to the podium to exchange my tattered ticket for a gold ring covered in the tiniest diamond chips. I felt as if the universe had conspired in my favor, like God had taken a break from all the stuff He had to do and was shining all of his attention on me. We later sold that ring for $5 at a garage sale, but still.
Last week, I attended “Writes and Bites in Rye” at the library and my number was called again. I won a blanket that depicts all the major landmarks in Rye. I love this blanket in a deep way that I would never have felt if I’d gone out and bought it. It was the winning that made it magic, as if some unseen force thought I deserved it. My son asked if he could take it with him to college, and I suggested that he try to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
You’d think with all this history of unearned fortune I’d buy lottery tickets. But I don’t. There’s something sort of shameful about it. It’s like admitting to the guy behind the counter at the convenience store that I don’t understand statistics. It might be true, but I don’t feel like he needs to know that. Plus, God’s watching, and He’d probably be like, “Didn’t you already get a ring and a blanket? When’d you get so greedy?”
From what I can tell from TV, the lottery ruins people. The people on “My Lottery Dream Home” go from grateful to impossible to please faster than you can say MC Hammer. These people leave their exceptionally modest homes to tour the new homes they can buy with their winnings, and before the first commercial, they’re scrunching up their noses at anything without marble countertops. People who win the lottery say “en suite” a lot and don’t want to see neighbors out of any window. I just don’t want to be a part of it.
So, I’m going to go after the small wins, which are even more sweet because the price of entry is just showing up. The next “Writes and Bites in Rye” is January 10, and I’m showing up for sure.