It's about dreaming and it's about a perverse kind of hope. But it also provides a respite from the routine of daily life and that is why I believe that so many millions of American got caught up in the most recent wave of lottery fever.
We all need to dream and some of us need help with the big dreams. Along comes a chance to join the exclusive club of the filthy rich and millions of people want in. It seems strange that when lottery pots are in the tens of millions that there is not as much frenzy as when the pot is in the hundreds of millions or, as was the case recently, $1.5 billion.
It was hard not to get caught up in the most recent lottery frenzy. I am not a gambler and I never buy lottery tickets. The most gambling I do is to buy a few one dollar Keno tickets at a golf course bar in Massachusetts or play a rare game of low-stakes poker. I certainly do not have an addiction gene looking for an outlet.
Yet, I ended up buying two rounds of Powerball tickets when the pot was so obscenely high. It almost becomes a disease that you have no control over. You start to believe that you are going to win the big pile of money. You start to fantasize.
During the evening of the drawing for the $1.5 billion I was convinced that I was going to win. Suddenly I had a strange sort of out-of-body experience and I was filled with flashes of heat. Initially I took it as a sign that I was getting a message that I was about to be the big winner. I was on the road to a major delusional state.
That feeling turned out to be the first sign of a nasty dental infection that was trying to become a systemic infection. I developed shaking chills and during the night the left side of my face swelled. I was so worried that I drove myself to the ER at 5 a.m. on Sunday to get evaluated and to start antibiotics.
The night of the sign that was really an illness, I went to bed before the lottery drawing. I was confident that I was going to win so I knew it would be just a formality to verify the win by looking up the winning numbers in the morning.
Of course, I didn't win and I didn't have any of the winning numbers. But as I tried to fall asleep with delusions of wealth and toxic bacteria floating in my body, I began to make a list of all of the things that I would do with the winnings.
I made a list of about 10 of my closest friends who are a few years from retirement age and are not sure if or when they will have enough money to retire. I decided that I would give each of them a million dollars and make sure they would be set financially for the rest of their lives.
Then came the next delusional idea. Would I stay in my house or have some sort of mega-mansion built. I decided that I really like my house. I might do a few things to make it a little better but I would stay put. As far as vacation homes go, I would not buy any but I knew I would take a lot of vacations to exotic places and simply rent.
The next thought had to do with airplanes. I am so sick and tired of commercial air travel. I thought about buying my own jet but why waste the money and have the headache. When you are filthy rich it seems better to just charter your own plane whenever necessary.
Then came the meat of my lottery delusions. I would set up a foundation to help people who have accrued medical debt of $5,000 or more and pay their bills for them. Sadly, even a billion dollars would run out quickly trying to fund an entire health care system for even a small state such as Vermont.
The foundation's mission could be expanded beyond Vermont, depending on need and capacity but helping people stay out of medical debt would be my main cause.
When I checked the lottery numbers in the morning my escape from reality ended, but it was fun while it lasted.