ON MY DRESSER at this very moment are two raffle tickets for a 1996 Chrysler LeBaron, two raffle tickets for an all-expenses-paid Caribbean vacation for two, and four raffle tickets for a 28-inch Sony Trinitron.
The drawings for each of these prizes will be held in the next two weeks. Not that it matters.
I won't win the Chrysler.
I won't win the all-expenses-paid Caribbean vacation.
I won't win the Sony Trinitron.
Because I never win anything.
Ever. Never, ever.
As it happens, I will be at the drawing for the Chrysler LeBaron, which will take place during a fund-raising dinner my wife and I were roped in . . . er, invited to.
Having observed these drawings many times (as a loser, of course), here's how I envision it going:
At some point toward the end of the evening, the big moment will arrive.
The master of ceremonies, an oily man with thinning hair wearing a tuxedo at least a size too small will take the microphone while the crowd gathers in front of him.
After firing off a couple of jokes that bomb disastrously, he will ask for a volunteer from the audience.
Several hands will shoot to the ceiling ("Me! Me! Me!") and the emcee will choose a big-boned woman in a low-cut blue dress with an impressive helmet of lacquered blond hair and three glasses of Chablis warming her insides.
She will squeal with delight and walk unsteadily (might be the heels, might be the Chablis) over to a huge barrel, pluck out a raffle ticket, and hand it to the emcee.
The emcee will crack another corny joke, this one eliciting even more deadly silence as people clear their throats and look uncomfortably at their shoes.
Then, as I grip my ticket in my stubby little fingers and say a silent prayer, the emcee will call out the winning number. And from somewhere in the crowd (usually right next to me, for some reason), whoops of joy will be heard.
A tall man in a navy blue suit and bolo tie will hug his wife and pump the hand of the man next to him. Two of three bystanders will clap the tall man on his back as he makes his way to the mike, where the emcee will hand him the keys to the Chrysler.
Me, I'll take another long pull on my beer and stare hard at the winner in that John Hinckleyish way of mine. Then I'll shuffle wordlessly back to my seat.
Oh, yes, this is the way it'll go at the drawing.
This is the way it always goes.
Because I never win anything.
Not only do I never win the grand prize in these raffles. I never win the second or third prizes, either.
In other words, not only don't I win the $900 racing bicycle, or the $200 streamlined bicycle helmet.
I don't even win the water bottle.
The thing is, there are lots of people out there who go around saying: "Oh, I never win anything."
But then you sit down and talk with these people, and you find out that, even if it was some time in their distant past, they did in fact win SOMETHING.
Maybe it was a Thanksgiving turkey, or a basket of cheer, or two Orioles tickets.
Believe me, these people are way ahead of me.
Because I never won a Thanksgiving turkey.
I never won a basket of cheer.
I never won Orioles tickets. (With my luck, the day I win Orioles tickets, they'll move the franchise to Vancouver.)
No, I never won anything in my whole life.
Now, you would think that a person who has never won anything in his whole life would see someone selling raffle tickets and sprint in the opposite direction.
Me, I have a different reaction. Despite an unprecedented 44-year run of futility that belongs in the record books, I'm drawn to raffles the way a moth is drawn to a porch light.
I see some softball team selling 50-50 tickets outside the supermarket, and my little face lights up.
I come out of church and find the Knights of Columbus people selling chances for a brand new Plymouth Voyager and I tingle all over.
From now on, though, instead of going through the charade of actually filling out my name and phone number when I buy a ticket, I'm going to toss my wallet to the K of C guy and say: "Here, pal. I've got no shot at winning, so take what you need."
It'll save us both a lot of time.
Pub Date: 3/07/96