It’s 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. I am at a swim meet, where I spend many Saturdays because my younger daughter swims competitively year-round.
It takes a lot of time and money, but I’m feeling pretty good right now. The meet is ending, and it won’t be long before I don’t have to worry about money anymore.
- 3:20 p.m. I am walking into the Speedway at 14th and Greenville Boulevard on the way home. A half dozen people are in line ahead me. A man and woman behind chatter on about the Powerball prize and whether it is better to get the Quick Pick or to select their own numbers. The man wants to pick his own. He thinks they all will be low.
- 4:30 p.m. The first NFL wildcard game is about to start. Saturday is for the AFC. I don’t care as much about the AFC. Sunday will tell me who the Panthers play. I dread it will be the Seahawks, but I shake it off and try to write.
- 4:35 p.m. Instead I decide to finally fix the kitchen sink, even though plumbing is the one chore I truly hate. Cramped spaces and difficult-to-reach hardware full of meanness await me, but the faucet hasn’t moved in months. It is supposed to swing from the left basin to the right. It’s stuck about an inch left of center. When I’m rich I will call a plumber.
- 4:45 p.m. I have squeezed under the sink. The fixture is fastened by a pair of plastic nuts that will not budge. I attempt to twist them with a variety of tools and all my might. In the heat of battle, I let go of primordial screams like my ancient Celtic kin wielding swords and clubs against their enemy. Still the nuts will not spin from the bolts.
- 5 p.m. I break out the heavy artillery, a crowbar and a hammer, hoping to break off the plastic nuts. I yell and cuss, but it still doesn’t work. I remember I have a battery-powered hand tool that spins a cutting disc. I saw through the evil, hateful nuts.
- 6:30 p.m. My wife and I are at Lowe’s, and she makes the final call on a new fixture. I tell her we will be lucky if we don’t have to come back at least once. Something almost always doesn’t work right. The Kansas City Chiefs are whipping the Houston Texans. I have friends in Kansas City. Perhaps I will visit them when I have won the big prize.
- 8 p.m. I am returning from my second trip to Lowe’s. Eric Montross is telling me on the radio how Syracuse could be trouble for the Heels. Sounds like we will be switching between the Carolina game and the second NFL playoff game on television.
- 9 p.m. After several trials and errors, the faucet is installed and I am eating a Polish sausage I pulled from the freezer. It is delicious with mustard and horseradish. The Tar Heels have the game in hand by the time I am finished eating.
- 11 p.m. Lottery officials are calling the numbers now, but I have lost track of time. I am writing, finally, and the Cincinnati Bengals have mounted a comeback against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- 11:20 p.m. Cincinnati melts down, and Pittsburgh wins. The late news comes on WNCT, and Katie Harden prepares to announce the numbers. Pencil in hand, tickets on the coffee table in front of me, I wait.
Alas, the headline on this column would not read, “Burns brings home $900 million Power Ball prize,” but I was not crushed.
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