Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Contests I Have Won

I have won a number of contests in my life, both games of skill or knowledge and the plain dumb-luck sort. Here is a partial list:

  1. As a very young child, I vaguely remember winning a plastic model car from a contest at a radio station. It wasn’t at the radio station; it was on Cassopolis Street in Elkhart, probably a remote location thing at a used car lot. I don’t remember actually being at the event, and I don’t remember the model car at all (it probably required glue, and I wasn’t even at the level of snap-together models if this happened so long ago I don’t remember it) but every time I drive past that location (which is probably now either a Mexican grocery, a cash-for-gold place, or a meth lab) I remember winning that car. (This could be a planted memory though, like when kids “remember” they were involved in Satanic sexual abuse and their babysitter had a pit of corpses of other little kids, and it turns out you just think this happened because an episode of Geraldo back in the 80s talked about it. I don’t know if Geraldo did any specials about used car lots giving away model cars, though.)
  2. I won a Huffy BMX bike from Honeycomb cereal. Many people my age remember Honeycomb cereal giving out these tiny metal replica license plates (no way they’d do that now; some kid would try to swallow one and every ambulance-chaser lawyer within fifty miles would jizz themselves) and if you got a special plate, that said “winner” (or maybe “bandit” or something like that) you would get a free bike. I did not win this contest, though; when I won, they had a book of various puzzles, maybe the sort that you scratch off with a coin like a lottery ticket, and the penultimate puzzle revealed if you won the bike or not, and I did. My mom did not believe me, and went over the entire puzzle book and read all of the fine print, trying to verify if I indeed won a bike, or simply “won” the 1 in 726,934,834 chance of winning a bike after mailing in the puzzle. But I did win, and we sent the thing via registered mail to where ever the Post Cereal corporation is (Battle Creek?) and a matter of time later (Weeks? Months?) a cardboard box showed up via UPS, and it contained this unassembled red and gold bike. I remember this was on a rainy Saturday, and I assembled the bike and rode it in the rain, and when I came home, the bottom parts of the bike were covered with fresh earthworms, which were out of the ground and all over the roads of my subdivision. Anyway, this was a huge stroke of luck, because I had a crappy non-BMX bike, the kind with a banana seat, and BMX bikes were huge — we’re talking Justin Bieber huge — and this made me a brief blip on the collective radar of the kids at my school. It was significantly less cool when I was still riding the same 20-inch BMX bike in my freshman year of high school, so I guess these things balance out.
  3. I won a $50 gift certificate to the Concord Mall. I think I wrote a short story about this, or a chapter within a book that will never see the light of day.  It was at some Saturday activity organized by our scared-straight Jesus freak vice principal, which Ray somehow talked me into going to, probably because he thought he had a long shot of getting his dick touched by some girl that talked to him in his social studies class, and of course nothing happened, but I did get the $50, and I spent it on a new walkman, the first Metallica album, and the first Queensryche album.
  4. I won a college scholarship from my dad’s work, based on my ACT test score. It paid $2000 a year for four years. I did not get the last semester of it because I fucked up so much academically, something which I think I discussed in my first book Summer Rain. (Actually, I think it happened a semester after that, but maybe I allude to it; I’m too lazy to go look.)
  5. My wife recently won a raffle prize of two round-trip tickets on Amtrak from Oakland to Reno, and we planned on using them to go to visit her uncle over Thanksgiving, but after we made all of the plans, we found out that Thanksgiving is a blackout holiday, so we drove and I think we gave away the tickets.  I think Amtrak tickets cost like ten dollars, so this was not that big of a deal.
  6. Here’s a stupid one. I was at that casino way south of the strip with Bill Perry and a couple of other people (I forget who – Marc? Tom?) and we were waiting to see Kathleen Hannigan and playing blackjack. I was watching a playoff game and not paying attention at all, and hit on a hard twenty. I still managed to win.

That’s the extent of my good luck. Everything else has been bad.