Southern Funnies

Rhonda Williams recently hit the jackpot!

A few weeks ago, the Fairburn, Georgia resident was cleaning out her purse and discovered a lottery ticket worth a hundred eighty nine thousand dollars!

A month prior, Irving Przyborski came across a lotto ticket that he’d bought and misplaced a year ago. The Chicago cab driver’s find was worth nine million dollars!

Heartwarming lost and found episodes like Rhonda’s and Irving’s are not uncommon. Someone wins one of those state-run sweepstakes somewhere every day. The jackpot is usually somewhat less than our two friends above, but I have it on good authority that the finder/winners can usually make good use of the money.

Very often sweepstakes and lotto winners are working stiffs, who’ve “played” the numbers comprising his address or her three kid’s birthdays or some such. Cab drivers and FedEx are not the only ones, who require some kind of number address. Karma and fate requires them as well.

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One concludes that the world is divided into two great camps. Not “Winners” and “Losers”, not even “Have’s” and “Have Not’s” (although there is a lot of that going around these days) but rather “Finders” and “Not Finders.” Sadly, when it comes to having a knack for being in the same location when a valuable item — such as a $9,000,000 lottery ticket — is found, I have remarkably and historically displayed the knack of being somewhere else.

Oh, I have, on occasion, found “stuff”, but it always manages to be something that is not at all useful or something that was a bad idea in the first place. Last year, I found an eight-track stereo tape that was popular for about fifteen minutes in the 70’s. Another time, a Pet Rock found me, thrown by a ten year old. (I learned later that the kid had won a bet that he couldn’t hit me at forty yards.)

In the only raffle that I’ve ever won, I was awarded a supposed gently-used and pre-owned golf 7-iron. It turned out that the pre-owner had gently used it by wrapping it around an oak tree in a fit of pique during a round of golf.

Searching under sofa cushionsI am much better at losing — or as I call it ‘not finding’ — stuff than finding or winning anything. I’ve lost credit cards, wallets, umbrellas, car keys, eyeglasses and some black Ray-Ban Wayfarers that until I left them somewhere allowed me to look cosmopolitan. (Well, vaguely cosmopolitan anyway.)

I have a true gift for mislaying things. When I do so, the ‘not found’ item vanishes into some cosmic black hole never to be seen again. (Unlike Jesus, it ain’t comin’ back.) If it does show up, it will have been time warped three years into the future, located when I am looking for something else that I recently have… er, ‘not found.’ Then, you can bet that the “SELL BY” date has long since passed, its technology is now woefully obsolete, or it has gone through some kind of molecular transformation and has taken on a completely different alchemy. Something that was once a solid has melted and become liquid or a liquid has turned gaseous — and evaporated. (I shudder to think in what kind of condition a previously owned wife will look like should she suddenly show up again.)

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My specific frustration with all of this comes because my talent for loss is inconsistent. I am great at losing stuff that I’d rather keep. On the other hand, stuff that I’ve tried mightily to lose tends to find its way back to its rightful owner. I’ve been trying to lose 23.5 pounds for a decade now. (The urgency for this particular loss is building too since I’ll be entering my dotage in not too many years and I’ve noticed that old men are either skinny or dead.)

Another instance of thwarted loss involves my freshman picture in the college yearbook. It’s horrible. I greatly resemble a goofy, overgrown, bug-eyed, mustachioed second grader, who is also sporting an Afro that is two feet long. I have been unsuccessfully trying to lose the picture for decades. (Some might argue that the photographer didn’t have much to work with in the first place. My take was that photographer was most assuredly auditioning to be a driver’s license photographer for the DMV. )

Every year, I go to Homecoming hoping that I can round up every one of those yearbooks, take a pair of scissors and cut out my photo, obliterate it and then give the book back to its owner. Unfortunately, my Yearbook ‘Search and Destroy’ Missions have gone hopelessly awry and I’ve only mutilated three of those ridiculous pictures all these years later.

My current driver’s license photo is something else that needs to be lost but, alas,  that I am stuck with for ten more years. It looks the same as my dumb college yearbook picture, only my hair is grayer.

I have never been good at intentional loss. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was, by today’s standards anyway, almost embarassingly old.

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Despite my sordid history of  ‘not finding’, it is not a completely worthless attribute. There is a silver lining and there are even some advantages, if one looks hard enough:

  • One does not become overly attached to material goods nearly as much as one once did.
  • Every possession, as well as every condition is temporary. More of life is lived ‘in the moment.’
  • One also learns to improvise, be more ingenious and perhaps do more with less.

None of this is necessarily all bad in a culture and society that is decidedly materialistic – and expensive. Silver linings are sliver linings, even those that don’t cover a lot of acreage.

You can be sure that I’d like to enter the Finders Club to which our friends Rhonda Williams and Irving Przyborski are already members. But so far there has never been a newspaper headline that read “WILL CANTRELL FINDS WINNING LOTTO TICKET!” After all these years of being a member of the Not Finders Club, I am beginning to think that fate is trying to send me a message.

But you never know what may happen in the future. That’s the thing about fate, it seems to strike on its own whim. It’s funny that way.

To the other members of the Non-Finders camp, I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us. Of course, my chances of winning the lotto would likely be helped if I ever actually bought a lotto ticket. I might do so too, if I could only locate my car-keys. They’ve been ‘not-found’ for two days now.

© Copyright 2011 Will Cantrell

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Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.