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Monday, January 07, 2002

Otis Likes His Chicken Spicy

When the alarm shook me from an odd dream, I almost welcomed it. I always have bad-based dreams when I'm on the road. It was 3:15 in the morning and for 30 seconds I was happy to be awake.

Then the darkness rabbit-punched me. I melted into the shower and collapsed into a day that was bound to make me turn ugly. I'm still in Columbia and I'm just getting over wanting to carry a baseball bat with me wherever I go.

South Carolina kicked off it's new "Education Lottery" today. I won't spend much time on this, except to say that until state lawmakers actually pass a measure to appropriate the lottery money, the cash is going nowhere but there general fund. And this is an election year. How soon until the schools get some money? Think 2004.

I was sardined into a convenience store with a bunch of sweaty gamblers (I try not to sweat when I gamble). I taught an old black man how to scratch off a lottery ticket. I felt bad for doing it and wanted to tell him that he has a better chance in a Mississippi casino.

"How this work?" he asked, his long fingernails scratching at the silver latex on top of the card.

"Just take a coin," I said, "and scratch this part off."

He was delicate and slow. Painfully so. I hardly had the heart to tell him that he won. A dollar. I knew he'd go back and buy more. It is sucker's game and I hate to see people who don't suck get taken. He was a nice guy. Said he was helping the schools.

Twelve hours later I had stomached enough of the public relations machine and started calling some of the PR hacks bad names. A stoned kid who won fifty bucks tried to walk through my live shot nearly caught an elbow on his nez. I was muttering Seinfeld lines..."George is getting frustrated...these pretzels are making me thirsty."

By dinner time I was pulling myself down the sidewalk with my lips and drooping eyelids. When I asked for a table for five, the hostess took me to a large booth. I wasn't smelling too good (I sweat when I report, not when I gamble) and asked for a table with some chairs.

"Oh," she said, "I can't...the track team is coming in."

I turned around and looked at my colleagues. "You hear that? The TRACK TEAM is coming in."

I looked back at her and waited. She ended up offering me a booth with an extra chair.

I sat down and waited to see if it was the Gamecocks' men or women's track team.

It was the men's team.

Now, I'm in a hotel bed. My parter is asleep. I'm waiting to see the Ravens get humilated. Hope they do anyway.

You know, Su asked me if I brought the laptop for work or blogging. Put it this way...I've written a lot of stories in the last 24 hours. Only two have been on this laptop.

If only I could go home right now. I still have another 24 hours in this forsaken burg. Saw some more seagulls today though. That made me happy.

Brother Beaker picked a wedding date. That's good news.

I'm starting to lose my damned mind, so it's probably best that I end right now.

Remember, if you want to gamble...don't scratch to win. Double down on 11, never draw to an inside straight, and don't trust politicians to put your chips down on the green felt.


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