Jewish Journal


Scratch it Up

by Elliot Steingart

August 22, 2012 | 11:48 am

Cardboard Cocaine

Addiction is a scary thing. In ninth grade I was mentally addicted to cigarettes for almost a week. I couldn’t stop thinking about cigarettes until I smoked half a Parliament Light and gave the rest to someone else. I’m lucky that I’ve never been addicted to drugs, alcohol, or anything that would require professional help. No one wants to see an episode of Intervention about someone who can’t stop checking JDATE. Also, dating is no longer a concern because I’m in a relationship, albeit with someone who is trying to kill me.

I’m now addicted to buying lottery scratchers. Getting help is hard. I can’t check myself into rehab.

“I’m here for scratching.”

“You mean cutting?”

“No, scratching lottery tickets.”

“Why are you in the psych ward?”

Scratching is exhilarating. The feeling I get from scratching is similar to an orgasm. I take slow and methodical breaths with each scratch so I can make the feeling last. I use my key to scratch vertically, horizontally and diagonally and after I finish all I want is to do it again.

I’m constantly tempted. It’s the main reason why I spend so much time at Albertson’s. For most people, Albertson’s is a grocery store. For me, Albertson’s is a casino. I buy chicken salad and bananas just so I don’t look like some kind of lottery junkie. I also do so in order to get cash back. Albertsons has crisp $5 bills, the kind of paper perfect for Strike it Rich, California Lottery’s most marketable scratcher. The commercials make me laugh, but the card makes me cuss. I’ve used God’s name in vain on Strike it Rich more than any other card. The top prize in Strike it Rich is $250,000. Do you know how many lottery tickets I can get with $250,000?

I started out playing less expensive cards like the $2 Luck of the Irish where a pot of gold gets you the big payout and $3 Silver and Gold where the more bars of gold you scratch, the more you win. These cards, like Strike it Rich, have eye catching names that reel you in with the hope that you will be an instant winner. These cards also have less favorable odds. According to lotterycrawler.com, California’s best paying scratchers are Take 5, Hot Streak and Mega Crossword. There are more available prizes and therefore more chances to win. Of course, I rarely find these scratchers at Albertsons nor have I had much luck with them. The last Mega Crossword I played two of the words I found were “lesson” and “bet” as if to say the lesson is not to bet. I was only one letter off from “potato.”

Even if my odds aren’t as good, I prefer a game like Luck of the Irish that does not mock me for playing. In that game it’s also easier to find a potato.

I’m more conscientious about which games have the best odds, but playing scratcher is not an economical investment, or at least it hasn’t been up to this point. I lose frequently, and feel frustrated. I feel like I’m a joke at Albertson’s. No one else gives his cash back as fast as he gets it.

I want to beat the addiction, but I also want to win a lot of money. My plan is to follow a few new ground rules. Moving forward, if I lose money on two straight cards, I take the week off. The next week I need to buy scratcher from a new location like the gas station or the liquor store.  I’ll no longer play Strike it Rich and I will give Mega Crossword another chance. I’ll also be sure to ask for lots of scratcher for Hannukah.

I’ll also enter all losing scratchers into the Second Chance Replay. The odds are more favorable in Second Chance because a lot of players throw out their cards thereby excluding themselves from a potential payout.

While creating some ground rules about how I play the lottery might not cure my addiction, I hope it helps modify my behavior. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to scratch that idea and maybe start smoking cigarettes.

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Elliot Steingart is a Los Angeles based comedian and writer who hosts a monthly comedy show, “Melgard Mondays” at Melgard Public House. Steingart has written jokes for...

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