Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once and Future Jackpots

It is one of my most frequent activities: Driving up and down I-65 from Chicago to Louisville, Louisville to Chicago, in my trusty auto, Black Beauty. If you've ever previously read this blog or have met me in person anytime between 1999 and now, you will remember that Black Beauty is not your standard semi-antique hunk of steel. In fact, the two of us have a lot in common. We're both always simmering a little under our hoods. We look younger than we really are. We have the same breakdowns over and over again. And neither of us has very good shocks, so we hit potholes hard (but at all other times we hug the road with a high level of style). You get the gist. So, I usually make that I-65 drive by myself these days, but I'm never 100% alone. A recent (as in yesterday) conversation between me and Black Beauty:

Me: Are you serious? Check engine again?
Black Beauty: If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, check my dang engine.
Me: Bogus. You always say this and it's always nothing.
Black Beauty: Well, you never know.
Me: And frankly, I could use a little input about this SRS light situation.
Black Beauty: Supplemental restraint system.
Me: I know, but is it seriously broken? Would the airbag still protect my face in a crash?
Black Beauty: That's for me to know and you to find out.
Me: N-E-WAYZ, which exit are you thinking for gas?
Black Beauty: Let's hit 240. New pumps, nice quality windshield wipes.

When my car and I run out of things to discuss, I turn to my other favorite 300-mile pastime: deciding what to do with my lottery winnings if and when I win them. I cover the usual bases (pay off people's mortgages, go on an African safari, build myself an elaborate treehouse where I'll read books and listen to birds, and (shhh!) buy a hot new M5), and yesterday I made an addition to the list:

Me: You know, all these billboards are a crying shame. Nothing but porn, preaching and patty melts for sale.
Me 2 Me: Yeah. If that lottery ticket pans out you can totally put whatever you want on these billboards.
Me: Then you can give back to the community. You know, do something to really connect with your fellow drivers.
Me 2 Me: Something pretty.
Me: Yeah, pretty. And fun! Like an art show.
Me 2 Me: Yeah! You can rent, like, seven billboards in a row and hire a famous photographer to do something large-scale and arty.
Me: But not like those nature pictures in the inspirational poster store at the mall. This is not about footprints in the sand.
Me 2 Me: I know. It would have to be non-controversial but cool.
Me: Yeah, like those back-lit Tokihiro Sato photos from the Art Institute [see below] that you got in trouble for taking pictures of because it's against the rules to take a photograph of a photograph.
Me 2 Me: And you could have just a few words at the bottom of each billboard. A greeting to all.
Me: It would be like:
1. Hello, fellow drivers!
2. Please enjoy these beautiful photos.
3. But don't get too distracted.
4. Happy trails!
5. Exit here for a free cookie.

Me 2 Me: A free cookie?
Me: Yeah, you could build a little drive-up shack at the next exit where you'd give everyone a free homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Me 2 Me: Hmm. A few logistical kinks to work out, but man oh man, that is a great idea. I sure hope this ticket is a winner.

P.S. I am anti- the new British announcer they had calling some of the races on Derby day at Churchill Downs. This is not England. This is Kentucky. A British accent does not automatically make everything fancier.

P.P.S. And come on, people, when they play "My Old Kentucky Home" right before the Derby, I really do expect you to sing along. If I memorize the all the words and wear a fascinator all day and throw down cold hard cash on Mint Juleps and park three miles from the track, then I need to hear group participation at the crucial emotional moment. I don't even care if you're from out of town. Get on it for next year. Thanks.

Herewith, the fascinator in action. Speaking of jackpots, my sister Claire (right) took home some bank on the long-shot surprise winner, Mine That Bird.

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