Gift for Mom

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(HOST)Commentator Philip Baruth recently stumbled on the perfect Mother’s Day gift for his sainted Mother a Mother’s Day scratch-off lottery ticket worth up to 250,000$. Here’s Philip.

(BARUTH) My luck with Mother’s Day isn’t the best: earlier in my life, I was liable to miss it far too often. And now that I’m older, I’m determined to make amends which makes me way too picky as far as presents go. I’ll spend hours shopping and then not buying gifts because they all seem insufficient. Then, because I’ve burned so much time agonizing, I have to pay about 85$ for overnight mail to get it there on time, because if I don’t then I’m really still my younger self and haven’t matured a bit.

That’s why I was so relieved to find the perfect gift this year, and to find it early. I was driving to work, and I heard this commercial for a Mother’s Day Lottery Ticket. Isn’t that a beautiful idea? It’s a scratch-off, and your Mom can win up to 250,000$. I know, it sounds a little tacky, but the ticket comes with its own little pink flowery envelope. And that totally sold me.

Or almost totally. There was this little nagging thought that maybe Mother’s Day and vice didn’t completely mesh somehow. But what is vice, after all? Okay, traditionally, it’s gambling, drinking, smoking, drugs, and prostitution. But today the State itself is one of the biggest players on the gambling scene, with full-bore marketing to take their product ever more mainstream.

And what’s more mainstream than Mom? When you think about it, “vice” only describes things that people really, really enjoy doing. And although my Mom’s never been much of a gambler, I figured that was only because she’d had to save money to feed me growing up. So finally, I gave myself a gut check: if my mother could bring me into this world clothe me, shelter me, raise me to manhood the least I could do was get her . . . hooked.

But then, more bad Mother’s Day karma: it turns out the commercial I’d heard was for the New York State Lottery. Vermont wasn’t participating in the Mother’s Day promotional. We have Megabucks, and Powerball, and a game called Freezing Your Bucks Off but apparently the people at the Vermont Lottery are a bit too hoighty-toity for the Mother’s Day scratchers.

So I did what I had to do: I paid sixteen bucks to take the ferry round-trip to New York, where a son’s love for his mother still means something. And I got the ticket, in the pink envelope.

I was gloating all the way home, and then bad karma again: I got on the New York Lottery’s website and found out that they’re offering an even better Mother’s Day promotion a way to subscribe your mother’s favorite lottery numbers for the entire coming year. I almost started crying when I heard that. What could be more intimate, more thoughtful?

Maybe a lottery subscription plus a fifth of vodka, and a tin of chewing tobacco. Which maps out next year’s gift pretty exactly.

Because if vice is the new name of the Mother’s Day game, there isn’t a woman out there in America today who deserves to wallow in it any more than my mother. Scratch well, Mom and by the way, baby still needs a new pair of shoes, if you know what I mean.

Philip Baruth is a novelist living in Burlington. He teaches at the University of Vermont.

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