Lady Justice and the Lottery
Seventy-two year old Earl Lassiter, sitting on the couch in front of the TV in the home of his seventy year old friend, Morton Friedman, scrunched his nose in disgust as the huge hulk of a man, dressed in leather, with studs in his lip and big circles implanted in his ears, leered into the camera.
Hey everybody take a look at me! I’ve got street credibility.
I don’t need you! So you don’t approve? Who asked you to?
Hey jerk! You work. This guy’s got better things to do.
Hell, I ain’t never gonna work – get down in the dirt.
I choose to cruise!
“Unbelievable!” Earl muttered, clicking off the TV. “How can they call that music? And what kind of message is that sending to kids? Screw work — just have a good time! No wonder the world is such a mess!”
“Couldn’t agree more,” Morty said, shaking his head. “On the one hand, I wonder if we’re just getting old. I remember how my folks felt when I came home with my first Elvis records.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Earl replied, “but it’s a long way from ‘Let me be your Teddy Bear’ to ‘Don’t look at me wrong when I come to the hood. When I hit the block, I still will kill’.”
“I feel sorry for the kids,” Morty said. “Seems like most of the songs today are sad, depressed or angry. I can’t imagine what it would be like, growing up without songs that make you feel good. Remember Papa Oom Mow Mow by the Rivingtons? The song didn’t make a lick of sense, but you couldn’t listen to it without grinning and when it was over, you felt good — happy!”
“And what about the love songs?” Earl asked. “There’s no romance anymore. Everything’s about sex. My favorite was In The Still of the Night by The Five Satins. Now that was a love song! Maureen and I danced to that song at the sock hop. When it was over, we shared our first kiss. I wonder to this day if she would have let me kiss her without that song. Today, everything’s just ‘thump and hump’, no romance.”
“Look at us,” Morty said. “Two old farts sitting around talking about ‘the good old days’. Were they really better?”
“I don’t know about ‘better’,” Earl replied, “but they certainly were cheaper. I was talking to my oldest daughter, Louise, the other day. She told me that they spent over a thousand dollars on Aiden’s prom. A thousand dollars! Professional photos, fancy dinner, limousine, a suite at the Marriott for the ‘after prom’ party. For our prom, I borrowed a convertible from a friend, Maureen sewed her own dress, Mom took our picture with a Brownie and we went out to Lake Jacomo afterward to ‘neck’. The whole thing cost me fifty bucks and it was wonderful.”
“That’s a rip all right,” Morty replied. “Almost as bad as little league baseball. Doris invited me to go to Josh’s baseball tournament last weekend. They were playing for the championship. When the kids took the field, I thought I was in Royal’s Stadium. The field was perfectly manicured, it had an electronic scoreboard and lights for evening ball. The boys had professional uniforms and there were paid umpires.
“I asked Doris how much all that set them back. She said that it cost twelve hundred bucks just to be on the team and with the uniforms, equipment and travel to out of town games, they would drop a couple of grand. I almost dropped a load! Two grand to play baseball! When we were kids, we played all summer and it didn’t cost my folks a dime.”
“Mine either,” Earl replied. “During the summer, a bunch of us would get together on the school ball field, choose up sides, and play until dark. If somebody else was using the field, we found an empty lot, used cardboard, or anything else we could find for bases, and played till we dropped.”
“I mentioned that to Doris. She gave me that ‘Dad, you’re behind the times’ look, and told me that things like that just weren’t possible today. Parents don’t let their kids out of their sight. It’s too dangerous. But that wasn’t the worst part. We’re talking about twelve year old kids here, and the coaches were expecting them to play like professionals. The coach on the other team was a real asshole. He kept screaming at the boys. ‘YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO COVER SECOND! GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME’ The poor kid came off the field crying. Another boy struck out and the kid looked like he had committed a felony. Hell, Mickey Mantle struck out seventeen hundred and ten times. It’s part of the game. I wanted to grab that coach by the balls and squeeze.”
“So if a boy’s parents can’t afford two grand,” Earl asked, “where do they play ball?”
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Morty replied. “I’m guessing that a lot of them end up on the Country Club Plaza raising hell and getting carted off by the cops.”
“Geeze, Morty, I came over here for a good time, but after that horrible rap music and this crappy conversation, I’m kinda depressed. You don’t happen to have your 45 of Papa Oow Mow Mow around here, do you?”
“As a matter of fact, I do. Oh, by the way, did you pick up our lottery ticket?”
“Oh, crap!” Earl replied sheepishly. “It totally slipped my mind.”
“Slipped your mind! What a putz! This is the largest jackpot ever! Over 600 million and you forgot to buy a ticket!”
“Calm down Morty. I don’t get the big deal about the size of the jackpot. What difference does it make whether it’s forty million or six hundred million. How much money does somebody really need?”
“That’s not the point,” Morty replied indignantly. “I gave you my dollar and you were supposed to buy the ticket.”
“That’s another thing,” Earl said. “We each get about twelve hundred bucks a month from Social Security and we blow part of it on lottery tickets. You do realize, don’t you, that our chances of winning are one in a hundred and seventy-five million?”
“Of course I do,” Morty replied. “In fact, our chances of being struck by lightening, dying in a bathtub or being crushed by a reptile are better than winning the lottery, but guess what? People are being struck by lightening all the time. Why not us?”
Earl looked at his watch. “Plenty of time. I’ll pick up the ticket on the way home. I was going to stay longer, but you’re getting grumpy. Any special numbers you want?”