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Slices of Life: Winning the lottery

My husband and I aren't big gamblers. I suppose it stems from the fact that we've never really had a large pile of cash we were itching to lose. Plus, neither one of us was born the lucky gene. So if you ever see us at a casino, rest assured, we're there for the buffet.

Still, every so often we buy a lottery ticket — just one for the both of us. We wouldn't want to be too unrestrained. We usually purchase our lottery ticket when the jackpot is sky high and the winning prize is somewhere in the mega millions.

What typically happens the morning after we buy the lottery ticket is I go online to check our numbers. And then I tell my husband the bad news: We didn't win.

That isn't always the case. We did win $4 once. You should have seen our happy dance that day.

Not winning the lottery doesn't stop us from dreaming about what we'd do if we did win. Except when it comes to my husband and me, our dreams — and our definition of winning — vary significantly.

He dreams of winning the lottery. Literally winning the lottery. He even does the numbers in his head: however many hundreds of millions in the jackpot minus the fee for taking the winnings in a lump sum minus the nearly 40 percent taxes. After all that subtraction, what he comes up with is still a really big mega-millions number. He likes really big mega-millions numbers and would welcome them into his life.

I would not.

A few times a year, my husband and I buy a lottery ticket. I always cross my fingers it's a lucky one. I hope we match lots of numbers. I want us to be winners.

But I don't want to win the lottery. Not the whole thing. That would be too much. Mega-million dollars would turn my life upside down. It would change everything and change is hard. Even when it makes you mega-millions rich.

Having mega millions would complicate life in ways I don't want complicated. I'd have to wonder if people liked me or my millions. I'd have to hire someone to manage my money and then I'd have to worry about them being dishonest. Lots of people would see me as a blank check. I'd be deluged by investment opportunities and potential business deals. I might even find out I had a bunch of new relatives. Everyone would want a piece of me, or, better put, my money. In a world like that it's hard to trust anyone. It's difficult to relax.

So I don't want to win the lottery. I just want to win a nice little jackpot that might be enough to pay off my kids' student loans or maybe even the mortgage. I don't want an amount that would change my life; I just want to make it a little easier.

So when my husband and I buy our lottery ticket, we have different desires for the outcome. He longs for mega millions; I for mega thousands. And that's OK. We learned years ago that we can look up at the same sky and one of us will see blue while the other sees a jet plane flying overhead.

Besides, it's highly unlikely either of us will ever see fruition to our personal vision of winning the lottery. We aren't lucky like that.

Well, except for that one time when we won the $4.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.