This is the time of the year when I am reminded that it is a good thing that I’m not much of a gambler.
Every March Kim and I pretend we know something about college basketball and fill out our brackets. It’s an entertaining ten or fifteen minutes, and then we get to track our choices as they inevitably crash and burn. Right now I’m leading in the point total, as I have called more games correctly in the first two rounds, but Kim is set to make that up in the later rounds as more of her top teams have actually survived – I’ve only got one Final Four team left, for example, while she has three. It is in fact entirely likely that I will be able to concede the whole thing by the time I go to bed this Friday.
It’s a good thing we don’t put money on these things, though, since neither of us is doing all that well.
I’ve never seen much point to gambling. I live not all that far from any number of casinos here in Wisconsin and none of them strike me as anywhere I’d like to visit. Back in college a bunch of us took an overnight road trip to Atlantic City to visit the ones there and I spent a happy night consuming free watered down drinks (hey – I wasn’t driving) and watching my friends play cards. On our honeymoon Kim and I wandered into a riverboat casino and stayed there for a bit, but mostly I played the nickel slots and spent my time pocketing whatever coins came back that would work for my coin collection, until eventually I ran out of the money I planned to spend there.
For $20 I got an hour’s worth of fun and a few old nickels. It was an entertainment expense, not really a gambling debt.
That’s pretty much how I approach the lottery as well. For a couple of bucks once in a while I get to think about all the ways in which newfound wealth would corrupt me. It would mean switching out many of my old problems for entirely new problems. And I can even plan how to spend my winnings wreaking petty vengeance upon all the folks who have annoyed me recently – a rotating cast of characters who will NEVER KNOW WHAT HIT THEM MWAHAHAHA. Not bad entertainment for a $2 investment. It’s more cost-effective than most movies that way, and certainly more cathartic.
I think you need to have more of a thrill-seeking nature than I do in order to get into that sort of thing. There are very few thrill-seeking historians, in my experience. It’s not an occupation that rewards that kind of behavior very well, and most of the people I’ve known like that who entered the field are long out of it now and happier for it.
But I’ll keep watching the implacable progress of the implosion of my bracket, because it is entertaining.
And that’s all I ask.