Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How I Challenged the Universe—and Won

    ...well, maybe sort of.....

One of my favorite family stories concerns some sophisticated praying my sister Jessica did as a young girl. When my mom was pregnant with her fifth child (Jessica was 9), Jess really wanted the baby to be a girl. So she prayed really hard that my mom have a girl. Instead, my brother Mike was born (and yes, she—and I—love him anyway). But when my mom got pregnant again four years later, an older, wiser, Jessica decided that it was time to try some reverse psychology on God. So she prayed that my mom have a boy. And sure enough, Anna came out female. Triumph!

I couldn’t help thinking about that story in my recent attempts to beat the universe at its own game. You, see, I have really bad luck. Not the ”my-life-sucks-everything-always-goes-wrong-and-no-one-loves me” kind of bad luck, just the “I’ve-played-this-game-1,000 times-how-come-I-haven’t-won-yet?” variety.  What makes it stranger is that many, many, times when I play things I really think I’m going to win. Really. I even envision scenarios in my head where people ask me and I have to admit to just having had this sense that this was my lucky day. Only it never is. But that hasn’t stopped me. I’ve entered HGTVs sweepstakes, Parenting.com’s daily giveaway, May Fair Peg Boards—you name it. But nada, scattah, zilch.
That is, until this summer. My husband, you see, has quite good luck. He won a raffle at our church last summer and this summer he won a prize basket at a work event.  Our local pool has been doing a number of new fundraising initiatives this summer and decided to raffle off a number of prize baskets. Simple enough: you buy your tickets and put them in the jar of whichever prizes you’re interested in winning. Easy.  Except that I kept looking at them all and mentally calculating the relationship of my interest in the basket to my likelihood of winning. Spa package—good stuff, but too many people. Free photography session—not so many people but possible hidden costs…So it took considerably longer than trying to decide what to have for dinner at a brand new restaurant on my anniversary. That is, quite a long time. But as I was (finally) filling out my tickets, I had a revelation regarding the self evident truths already established. I’ll call it Corollary A: I have bad luck. My husband has good luck. What if I took this principle and utilized it to my advantage?

So I tested the universe. I filled out half of the tickets with my name and cell number. I filled the other half out with my husband’s name and our home number.  And lo and behold, Colin won, confirmed by a call to our house the next day. And it was a prize basket tailor-made for him—no random toys for the kids or manicures for me. A discounted pool membership and a couple of free swimming lessons.

You may call it luck. I call it working the psychological angle on the universe.  I’ll take it over my bad luck any day.

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