Despite considering myself reasonably intelligent, I still buy a ticket for the Saturday night tatts-lotto draw every few weeks or so.
Australia's population is approaching twenty-two million and any mathematician (ie Love Chunks) will tell you that the chances of selecting the winning six numbers from a combination of 45, is well, about 123,456,789 to one. Most of us would have either created a program or seen a friend create one that compares the success of choosing the same six numbers every week to varying them each week - with the same six winning by the mere skin of a cooling custard.
To complicate things further (at least for a numerically-challenged meathead like me) is that most people tend to select their 'regular six' using birthdates which means that numbers above 31 are unlikely to feature on their tickets. Whether any boffin has bothered to work out the odds of selecting numbers 32 to 45 to increase the chances of winning is probably still being undertaken by science undergrads seeking a wild and crazy change from spending their Saturday nights translating the Old Testament into Klingon.
Yet, as admitted to earlier, I avoid logic and willingly buy a ticket and, before I've even left the newsagent, idly waste about ten minutes of my life indulging in the 'What if I Won Lotto' fantasy. Yes, the most unoriginal, unrewarding and unrealistic daydream that every person above the age of seven has entertained at least once in their lives. It is sadly pathetic and even though I'd like to think I am above all that, I still do it. It's a bit like believing that an orange eaten after a Kit-Kat cancels out the wickedness of the chocolate, and I still do that too.
On Sunday mornings I flick to page two of the newspaper, write down the winning lotto numbers (and the two supps - any money is good money) and then meticulously check my ticket. Nope, not even a division six prize, dammit. But do I throw the ticket away? Of course not.
It stays in my purse until Friday morning. On my way to the supermarket for the weekly shop I'll pop into the newsagent, flash a hopeful smile and ask them to run the now-slightly-tattered ticket through their computer, vainly hoping that I've mis-checked and the numbers will tell a better story.
The bored shop assistant slips it into the slot, counts to three and hands me back my ticket and a slip and tells me, "Sorry, not this time love."
And here's the killer: the slip says 'Not A Winner,' as if to rub salt in my already pus-infected wound of disappointment.
Why don't they just go all out and say 'YOU'RE A TOTAL LOSER' instead? Perhaps they could also get a bit creative with the rejection slips and have a different one each time: 'You're still poor. And ugly'. Or: 'You should be happy that you even had the guts to turn up here today and not frighten any of our customers'; 'Hell, a face like yours would be able to sand down a log,'; or 'Trust me, you didn't win last time, didn't win this time and will never win. Rack off.'
This would be the one I'd get: 'You lost. Now get out of here; you make the place look untidy.'
I blame the work lotto club for introducing me to this world of unrealistic hope and crushing reality. We would all chip in our $2 for the week and get a group ticket. However, as soon as I joined up, we didn't win a brass razoo. (What is a 'razoo' exactly? Well whatever it was, we never won it).
Our statistical analyst suggested that the odds would be far more favourable if we tried putting our money on the gee-gees, taking it in turns to select the race and whichever horse's name appealed to us. Twelve months of that and still no pot of gold.
How about the greyhounds? Zilcho. Our other stats guy helpfully pointed out that if we'd invested our weekly contributions instead we'd have fully paid for our christmas lunch, endless drinks and taxi fares. He was promptly shoved into the photocopier room and ignored until the deadline rush for the unit's monthly finance reports.
Scratchies were our last resort. Again it was two bucks each and we'd buy a whole toilet roll of them and take it in turns each week to scratch them all. It was absolutely tragic - our biggest windfall was $3 and we'd only spent $28 to 'win' it.
Is there a message in all of this? Well obviously it's to keep your money in your wallet or the bank, but we don't do we? We all like to wish, hope and fantasise. My naive little gambling bug also extends to entering competitions. Thankfully I'm not like my friend Bill's sister who ended up buying 16 jars of mustard for the entry tokens, but I am prepared to pay for a 55c stamp to enter a competition on the back of a packet that I'd ordinarily buy.
And what have I won? Well, I wanted to win the First Class around-the-world tickets on offer, but got the consolation prize of a Deeko paper serviette holder instead. It's actually rather useful and is a quite attractive wrought iron design that can withstand most windy days when we're having lunch outside.....
I also wanted to win the Cadbury $250,000 cash promotion, but got a blue plastic 'Time Out' watch instead. To be fair, it proved handy for gardening and swimming in the three-month life span it provided and getting some facial cleanser and toner from Jurlique was OK but I felt a bit shortchanged when what I really wanted was all-expenses paid fortnight's health and beauty retreat at the Golden Door in Queensland....
At the time of typing this, I'm still hoping to come up trumps for the Schweppes 'Magic Moments' win two-grand per week for a year competition; the Woolworths/Safeway Honda Odyssey/Fiji holiday/free groceries for one year in the 'Read it - Win it' magazine promotion; Home Beautiful 'Aussie Home' photography awards; Epilepsy Association BMW raffle; Flemington Traders' local calendar shots, the Grand Angus $50,000 cash first prize...... Oh, wait. I actually have to buy - and possibly eat - one of those to be in the running, don't I...?
Overly optimistic and pathetic, yes. But the day I stop hoping is the day I'll stop living; regardless of the mathematical logic. And I ain't a logical gal, as Love Chunks and the general population will readily tell you.