I wonder if lottery ticket sales increase in late winter? I know I scan the list of winning digits with more than my usual desperation when the “Where the heck is spring?” blah’s set in. Did they pass a bill in the Senate when I wasn’t looking to add an extra week to winter every year until the entire population of Canada is insane with cabin fever? Those potential million-dollar numbers take on an extra gleam in March.
As I stumble over my ice pocked driveway, trying not to lose control and slide under my vehicle, I imagine walking barefoot over sundrenched beaches. I’d spend my winnings on a luxury liner cruise. Imagine sailing through the waves without the aid of an icebreaker in the lead.
Perhaps my sinking despair, while running the gauntlet of brain bashing roof icicles and ankle busting lumps of brown highway grit, explains my vehemence toward Clearing House Sweepstake envelopes. I snort resentfully at the suggestion to follow the “simple” instructions on how to enter. They go something like this.
Stick the “before February 15” silver circle on the back of the mailing envelope if you are mailing before this date unless you have received this during the month that begins with the letter M or ends with an R. If not stick the “before March 1” golden sticker on the front of the envelope. Paste the coin sticker on the coin voucher. If you are over 60 years of age, paste the golden years square on the order form, but only if you are ordering. If you are ordering more than six magazines, use the bonus page and paste the subscriptions in order of price.
Among the 6000 stickers enclosed, find the hidden picture of a car and stick it upside down on the left corner of the automobile entry form, unless you would prefer a van, in which case stick it to the bottom of your foot and dance the Old Soft Shoe. Do not confuse this sticker page with the information sheets on 42 other prizes.
Scratch off seven out of nine of the silver boxes, three out of four of the gold, and two out of six of the gray, unless your birthday is on an even number date, in which case reverse these instructions. Be sure not to scratch more than two in a row from left to right and three in a row from top to bottom except for the first and last rows, which may be doubled unless you scratch off a “stop here.” Use your left hand only.
Punch out the red dot if you are ordering. Punch out the red and yellow dots if you are ordering on a 14 day trial basis. Punch out the yellow and green dots if you are ordering more than four magazines. Punch out the purple if you are not ordering but would like to remain on our mailing list. Punch out the black if you live North of North Bay, unless your name rhymes with cat or gun. Punch out your boss if he or she is not paying you enough to afford any magazine subscriptions.
By the time I have punched, ripped, and licked, and stuck my way through their simple instructions, I feel they owe me a prize. Then I have to mail my entry. I struggle over ice coated snowbanks and through frozen puddles that give way and drop me into wet pits deep enough to entomb pharaohs. I spur myself on by chanting, “I am on the final list of winning numbers.” I have yet to pick up my convertible or take my Caribbean cruise, but I sure have a great selection of magazines. I wonder if the lottery store is open?
Published first in 1990 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.