Itchy Palms and Fine Print

Barb and I did not win the $325 million Power Ball grand prize February 11; someone (still unknown at the time I am writing this column) in Rhode Island was the lucky winner. I suppose a lot of you who are reading this now, also played and lost. But the fact remains that Barb and I were supposed to win.

I realize that all of you will be quick to point out that the odds of winning Power Ball are roughly equivalent to being hit in the head by a piece of falling space junk. Thus, you will also be quick to question my certainty that Barb and I should have been the grand prizewinners of said lottery. So why, you rightly ask, am I so certain that we should have won?

The answer is simple: my palms itched from Friday evening (the 10th) until Saturday night (the 11th) when I went to bed. Not only did my palms itch, Barb experienced the same phenomenon, as well! Therefore, one of us should have been making the trip to Milwaukee on Monday to claim our millions.

For those of you who are not as informed on superstitions as you should be, my understanding (until my failure to be named the grand prizewinner on Saturday night) was that someone with itchy palms could expect money to come their way. So I naturally felt that I needed to buy a Power Ball ticket. And, after learning that Barb was also experiencing itchy palms, I decided to add an additional $2 to my investment so she would have a set of Power Ball numbers, too.

Some of you, dear readers, are probably ahead of me, at this point, but allow me to point out a problem with my rationale anyway. If Barb and I both had itchy palms and were therefore both entitled to win the Power Ball, then the “quick pick” numbers that the lottery machine kicked out, should have been identical. Needless to say, they were not identical. Indeed, nary a single number was the same between the two sets.

Still, I remained undaunted, confident that I would awaken on Sunday morning as this country’s newest millionaire.

So what went wrong? Well, as I should have realized, with every superstition there is accompanying fine print. A case in point is the superstition that, if you say something positive like, “Business in my store has been going well,” you need to knock on wood to ensure that your good fortune will continue. Failure to knock on wood will result in your good fortune vanishing and/or turning opposite. I spent close to 40 years knocking on wood before I discovered that – in order to be effective – one must knock upward on the underside of the wood. If you knew me during my first 45 years of life you are probably saying to yourself something like, “Oh, that explains a lot.”

After my lottery failure I decided to do some checking on the itchy palms superstition and sure enough I found the fine print – lots of fine print!

An itchy right palm does indeed mean that money will be coming your way. The catch is that if you scratch your right palm you void the good fortune. Thus, in order to have money actually come your way, you have to bear the irritation. Anyone who has experienced an itchy palm knows the incredible discomfort it causes and the thought of doing nothing to alleviate the discomfort seems preposterous. Still, if living with an itchy palm can mean financial reward, many of us will probably be inclined to endure the irritation.

However, there is another disclaimer that needs to be noted: nowhere can I find any assurance that the financial reward promised by enduring the irritation will materialize in a timely manner. In other words, it could be a day, several weeks, even months before money finds its way into your hands. Thus, you could be suffering for a prolonged (a very prolonged) period of time.

Then there is the issue of an itchy left palm. Apparently, an itchy left palm means that your money will leave you – an unexpected bill will arise, your car will break down, etc. And to make matters worse, there is nothing that states that scratching your itchy left palm will void the loss as money. So you can scratch all you want, but you are still going to part with your money!

As I am sure you have surmised, both Barb and I were scratching our palms routinely throughout Friday evening and all day Saturday. So, according to the fine print of the “itchy palm superstition,” by scratching our respective right palms we voided our receipt of potential monies. To make matters worse, both Barb and I had itchy palms on both our hands. So whatever money we were due because of our itchy right palms would leave us just as quickly due our itchy left palms.

If this all sounds rather confusing, rest assured that you are not alone. All I know for certain is that I feel I was unjustly disqualified from winning the $336.2 million (the actual final total for Power Ball on Saturday, February 11).

Now that I am aware of all the fine print rules I will be taking a very different approach the next time I experience itchy palms. From now on, when my left palm itches I will immediately placate the condition with considerable amounts of hand lotion and hope for the best. And when my right hand itches I will grimace and endure my suffering, probably donning a glove to prevent any unconscious scratching. I will most certainly look ridiculous wearing a single glove in mid-July, but after my ordeal concludes and I am preposterously wealthy I feel confident that my fashion irregularity will be quickly forgotten.

And finally, as a footnote and in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I found a dime on the sidewalk in front of my store on Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, I was wearing gloves, and when I went to put it in my pocket, it slipped from my grasp and disappeared into the storm sewer.