While I generally don’t see the glass as half full only because mine is perpetually half empty, I still try to remain cheerful by having a “Why not me?” outlook on life. Unfortunately though, the “We’ll tell you why not” gods almost always puncture my hopeful efforts with the same barbed response: “Yeah, right. You wish.” It starts off simply enough whenever I’m driving somewhere. After all, why shouldn’t I be the person who gets to park exactly in front of where she’s going? Why should I be one of the schmucks who drives around the same block for 20 minutes, only to eventually still have to park 19 blocks from my destination? If anyone can pull up and immediately find a spot, then it should be me because I’m just as qualified, if not more so, as anyone else for that kind of dumb luck. I usually end up walking the 19 blocks, but I keep hope alive anyway every time I put the key in the ignition.
Speaking of dumb luck, gambling isn’t my thing. But every once in a blue moon, when the amount of the Powerball jackpot is worth my while (you know, because I’m so flush with cash that only eight- or nine-figure sums would actually make a dent in my lifestyle) or when Pay at the Pump is broken and I have to actually walk inside the gas station, I buy a lotto ticket. I immediately assume I’ll be victorious (and immediately get all warm and fuzzy fantasizing about how my kids and grandkids will fight over my fortune after my death like Brooke Astor’s) because I figure I deserve it just as much as the group at the meat plant who always seems to win after splitting the cost of the $1 lotto ticket 17 ways (and ends up being featured on an episode of E! network’s “THS Investigates” about how their lives were cursed afterward because they tried to build an in-ground hot tub on an ancient Indian burial site and then one of their ex-brothers-in-law absconded with what was left of the winnings after blowing most of the fortune on frozen concentrated orange juice futures).
Why it’s never my brother-in-law who squanders my fortune on citrus after I desecrate the final resting place of an entire tribe, I’ll never know. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop dreaming of my heirs bickering over my dead body. When my husband and I were on our way to get our taxes done this spring, our neighbors let us know they were jetting off to Australia with the $5,000 they got back from the government. Even though I was all too aware of the number of our deductions plus our untaxed freelance projects, for a little while I decided that I underestimated our chances for a refund. The neighbors aren’t any smarter than us. Why shouldn’t we get a refund, too?
As it turns out though, the accountant, who silently, methodically and humorlessly alternated tapping her 4-inch-long Wite-Out painted nails between the calculator and computer keyboard for over an hour, was apparently a member of the “We’ll tell you why not” team and revealed a $2,500 IRS bill at the end of our appointment.
A few days after that we brought the car in for one thing, and it turns out a whole other thing was wrong. I tried to will the problem to be a broken windshield wiper blade or a burnt-out brake light, or at least cost the equivalent thereof, because why do expensive things always happen to us? But no, it was a failed timing belt tensioner (otherwise known in car mechanics’ speak as “There goes the college savings fund for the kids”). Speaking of college, when I was a senior in high school and had been accepted to college via early decision, I decided to send a postcard to Harvard letting them know they wouldn’t be seeing me that autumn. I thought I might end up being one of those urban myths where the school realizes they can’t live without me and begs me to enroll despite the fact that I never even applied. That I would be the solid “B” student who nevertheless shone so brightly they just had to have me. As it turns out, they didn’t, but they did send me a lovely note wishing me all the best in my educational pursuits. Sometimes I feel a little like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football out from underneath him. Except I see no reason why I won’t kick it next time.
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