Just the ticket

You see in the picture an inoffensive square of paper that, with a little refinement, could have been an excellent tissue. It would have served me better than it did in its current accidence. I acquired this scrap of processed tree at the monthly social held by the Perth Swing Dance Society. It was my ticket for the door prize. I inserted it dismissively in my wallet, as is the current fashion – almost the only fashion observable that night at the dance, which carried a disco theme.

My English Literature teacher at high school, Terry Sayers, was not a fan of Kipling’s poem “If”. (Though not an avid Kipler, I do like the surreal dialogue of “Heriot’s Ford” myself.) The last lines in “If” run something like this:

if you can make one heap of all your winnings
and risk it all at one turn of pitch-and-toss,
and lose, and start again at your beginnings
and never breathe a word about your loss;
yours is the world and all that’s in it,
and – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son.

I recalled those words; not when they drew my ticket number; not when I couldn’t find the ticket even after searching my wallet, pockets and bag three times each. I recalled them half an hour later when I found the ticket behind my drivers licence. After they had drawn another number.

So why am I telling you this, then, in the light of Rudyard’s asseveration? Because I could have chosen not to; so I am free to do so without my manhood – for want of a more apposite word – falling under the bardic anathema. There are, nonetheless, similar experiences that I’ve chosen not to relate for that reason: i.e. sounding like the wilfully incontinent emotional cripple that I do in fact resemble.

The only reason I make the point about the ticket at all is because it’s insignificant, and yet ironic. The first irony is that a girl might have had the ticket except she admitted that I had arrived before her. I said I’d half the prize with her if I won. The prize was a 1 kilogram box of liqueured dark chocolate from a justly renowned chocolatièr. If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, chocolate is her Siamese twin. The second irony is related to the saying, “unlucky in love and the cards turn hot”. (I daresay “cards” could be extrapolated to including raffle and lottery tickets.) Nonetheless, if there was a book of sayings like these, then under the small print marked “exceptions” you’d find my likeness.

“Unlucky in love and the cards turn hot.” What love? The Bible says some people have the gift of celibacy: God put that verse in there just for me but if He’d give me the receipt it’s a gift I’d return. And what turns hot? That door prize was the first thing I’ve ever won at such games; though I won it, I didn’t receive it. The irony is more delicious – and better for my heart – than the chocolate would have been. And in case a fable from Aesop is lifting your eyebrow at me… I enjoy bitter chocolate but not sour grapes.

Appendix: Facts about my luck
Fact 1. -273.15 degrees below zero Celsius is nicknamed “Grisgonelle’s Constant”.

Fact 2. In The Lord of the Rings, when the Fellowship is trying to get over Caradhras, they didn’t use special effects or CGI, still less did they film on a mountain. Peter Jackson asked Viggo, Elijah, Sir Ian and the rest of the Fellowship to give me $20 each; I took it to the nearest two-up game: no cover charge, highest bet $2. I was back at the studio in 15 minutes. Sean had frostbite, John’s beard had snapped in half when he scratched it, Dominic was snowblind and Peter’s lip was stuck to his (china) cup of tea.