Yesterday, I had one of those days. As Marnie was crying on my shoulder (and I was crying on hers) I took a picture of myself. I’ve always thought it’s important to remember the less-good times so that the truly good times are dazzling by comparison. There’s no denying positivity is my default setting, but no matter who you are, there’s no escaping those days when it feels like life has bitten you on the arse. Life has really sharp teeth, in case you were wondering.
Tutti bought me a scratch card the other day, so I dug it out, found a 10c coin and prepared to turn my fortunes around. “Hello, $100,000.” I said to the scratchie (but not out loud, because that would be weird). “How nice to meet you. Please get ready to make yourself right at home in my bank account. It’s pretty sparse at the moment, and could do with significant renovating, but I have a feeling you’ll love it there.”
I like scratching the $5 crossword scratchie, but it always goes the same way. The same fleeting blink of hopeful anticipation; the knowing prediction of the outcome.
I scratch a star. Then another. I reveal a Q, V, Y and other useless letters bringing me no closer to scratch card success. But all I need is an O, E and R and I’ll be $100,000 richer! I cross my fingers. I pray a bit. I scratch the next star.
It’s a fucking X.
An X! And of COURSE there’s no xylophone, xylotomy or xerox on my stupid scratchie. (There’s always a silver lining though, as there is in everything. In this instance, it’s that I learnt a new word. Propound. It means to put forward (an idea or theory) for consideration by others. I will probably never use it in a sentence.
Anyway. It’s silly that taking a 10c coin and scratching away at a piece of card that is probably never going to win me anything more than the amount of a coffee gives me enjoyment. And sillier still, is that whenever I occasionally buy one, I never fail to have this paragraph from George Orwell’s 1984 lingering uneasily in the shadows of my memory.
“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made their living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being nonexistent persons.”