by Valerie Nusbaum

The Nusbaums aren’t gamblers.  However, we do enjoy winning something every now and then, and as the saying goes: “You have to play to win.” That’s why whenever the jackpot reaches $500,000,000, we each buy a lottery ticket.  Neither Randy nor I have ever won anything in the Lotto, but there’s always next time. In fact, I don’t believe either of us has even had one number that matched the drawing, but hope springs eternal.

Once in a great while one of us will buy a scratch-off lottery ticket. We stick with the cheap $1.00 or $2.00 tickets. Those denominations have lower payouts; but, because we tend not to win anything—ever—our losses are smaller. I’d feel horrible if I invested $10.00 in a scratch-off and didn’t at least win back my investment.

Case in point: It was Randy’s birthday, and I wanted to stick a little something inside his birthday card, so I bought one $2.00 scratch-off ticket from the machine at the grocery store. I put the ticket inside the card, and he was tickled when he opened it. Never one to delay gratification, Randy (who refrains from eating leafy greens whenever he can because he knows that any of us could die at any time, and he doesn’t want his last meal to be a salad) grabbed a quarter and began scratching.  Scratching the ticket, I mean. The other scratching is a story for another time. When the smoke cleared, Randy held up his ticket and showed me that he’d won back my two dollars. He was happy. I was happy. I thought it was all over.

We were out running errands a few days later, and Randy decided to cash in his winning ticket. He trotted into the convenience store and came back out with two $1.00 tickets. He handed one to me and I tried to give it back, saying that he should scratch both since he bought them with his winnings and, besides, I’m never lucky. He wouldn’t hear of it, and he quickly scratched off his ticket and said a bad word. He hadn’t won anything.  I resignedly scratched off my own ticket and saw that I’d actually won $10.00. I was elated that we’d won something, but I still felt that Randy should keep the winnings.  He took the ticket back inside the store. I figured he’d come back out with the $10.00, but instead he came back with $8.00 and two more tickets. There is something to be said for quitting while one is ahead, but I’d forgotten to say that.  Neither ticket paid off, so we lost my initial two dollars and came out eight dollars ahead.

That was when Randy looked at me and said that we should give Bromstadt a call. For those of you who don’t know, David Bromstadt is a home designer. He has a show on the HGTV network called, My Lottery Dream Home. Each week, Mr. Bromstadt works with a person or family who has won a large lottery purse to find them the home of their dreams. The prize winnings range from half a million dollars to ten or fifteen million, but most weeks, David is working with a million dollar jackpot. Most of the winners give David a modest budget to work with, usually in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. A million dollars doesn’t buy what it used to. Randy and I are fascinated to see what qualifies as a “dream home” in those price ranges.  Granted, most of the lottery winners are regular people like us, so they’re not looking for garages for their collection of sports cars or for in-home bowling alleys, but my jaw still drops when they settle for sharing a bathroom with a spouse.

Randy was joking, of course, that our $8.00 would buy us a dream house. He just thinks it would be a great social experiment to have David Bromstadt come to Thurmont, wearing his red shoes and fur coats. I think David is pretty cute, but it would be funny to give him a list of our demands for a home if money were no object. We’d want to live in this area because we like it here. The house would need to be a rancher since we’re getting old and stairs will be an issue one day. Maybe we’d ask for a separate wing for my mother or a guest house, along with a workshop for Randy and a studio for me. The kitchen would have to have tons of storage, and I’m talking serious closet space all over. Privacy is important, but I’d want to be within five minutes of a grocery store and a McDonald’s—I love my Diet Cokes. And, unlike the couples on the TV show, we’d need separate bathrooms for everyone. That’s non-negotiable.  Also, Randy thinks we should buy the adjoining property so that Steve and Brooke can still live beside us.  I know what you’re thinking. If we want that to happen, we’re going to need to buy more tickets.

In the meantime, we’re pretty happy where we are, and we already have most of our list covered or can make do with what we have. I really should go out and buy a ticket, though, because my left palm has been itching up a storm.

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