The Raffle

Every parent should know that a one dollar raffle ticket is all it takes to destroy a boy’s dream.  They should teach this at the Juilliard or Dr. Suess School of Proper Parenting.

With the National Football season in full swing, and living in Seattle with the “12th Man”, it’s an exciting time for everyone in this city and throughout the State of Washington.

I’ll enter our neighborhood supermarket on Sunday mornings before the Seattle Seahawks game and be the only person present without a jersey.  I’m not a member of the “12th Man” brother and sisterhood, consisting of rabidly loyal Seahawks’ fans, but I do watch and root for the team each week.  For those loyal twelves, when they win, there is celebration.  After a loss, I witness adults crying.

Returning to a stable home in Seattle, when the Seahawks win, I smile, and look forward to the next game.  When they lose, I simply say, “Oh, what the hell”,  happily listen to my wife spew some profanity laced professional athletic hatred for about five minutes, and then we look forward to next week’s game.  You see, back in the late seventies, when I was six years old, I was thee “12th Man”.  It was at that same age when my extreme, or extremely ridiculous, loyalty came to a tearful halt.

I was the emotionally unstable fan at that age who would, after a Seahawk’s loss, find a room, hide in it, and let those pathetic tears fly like the weak birds I witnessed being crushed by the opposing team.  Try living with that when you have two older brothers, or rather, hyenas, licking their already cynical chops, waiting to verbally pounce upon me after exiting the room.  My red eyes couldn’t hide the fact that I was, most certainly, the “baby” of the family.  Every once in a while, remaining close to those brothers, I am reminded of those days, and we all laugh.  However, crying was not the reason I eventually gave up on the Seahawks.  It was the raffle.

At age six, I spent a great deal of time with only my mother at home.  Being the youngest child, all my siblings had more pressing obligations at school than a boy in kindergarten. When inside, the doorbell would ring each day several times.  It was usually the Milkman, Avon Lady, Girl Scouts, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  The Milkman was the only one I appreciated because I could persuade mom into purchasing a half gallon of ice cream to go with the fifteen gallons of milk required to fill up a family of thirteen.

One day, someone mysterious showed up to our doorstep with a raffle ticket in his hand.  Being the only man, or, boy, in the house, I kept a close eye and open ear when mother would open the door.  Listening to their brief conversation, he seemed to be a nice fellow only asking for one dollar in exchange for two free tickets to a Seattle Seahawk game as well as an all expense paid stay at Seattle’s luxurious Westin Hotel, brunch included.  I didn’t have to look in mom’s purse before I knew she had a dollar in it.  Before the salesman could file his taxes, I talked my mother into buying one of these tickets.  For an ignorant youth, that raffle ticket meant only one thing:  Free tickets to a Seattle Seahawks game and staying at the Westin Hotel with all the players.  Proudly, at the age of six, I knew what a ticket was, but sadly, I didn’t know what a “raffle ticket” was.

Other than figuring out travel plans, when my mother handed over that dollar to our neighborly shyster, I felt assured a ticket to a National Football game in the famously loud and notorious ugly Kingdome.   After the first week, I began bugging my mother about how long it would take before I had the tickets in my giddy paws.  With a kind smile and positive, yet truthful, words, she properly explained what the raffle was, softly describing how there was a pretty solid chance someone else, equally deserving, might end up winning the raffle.  Not giving up hope, she also encouraged me to write a letter to the Seahawk’s organization explaining, with great respect, why I was their biggest fan.  That was easy.  In my mind, I was.  After a few calls, my mother provided me the official address to the public relations department of the Seahawks.  I knocked this letter out in great detail, describing their best players, future Hall of Famer and wide receiver, Steve Largent, quarterback, and future Hall of Mediocrity, Jim Zorn, their charismatic kicker, Efron Herraha, and other players the public relations department probably didn’t recognize on the roster.

A month passed and the Seahawks never responded.  Later, I remember looking at the ticket and noticing the date of the game had passed.  It was official.  It wasn’t a winning ticket.  I understood, and when I showed it to my mother, she knew I was hurt, but I wasn’t crying.  She made me feel as though there were better or worse things to cry about.  Then, she gave me some butterscotch pudding.   It was the last time I cried over a losing team.


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