A friend from my small home town had been killed in Nam in 1967. I was afraid of the draft and the coming lottery, so I kept a diligent eye on my grades. My roommates at the University of Georgia and I gathered in our Benton Apartment in front of a small TV and settled in for the drawing with a few beers. As the numbers came out I felt better and better. When the ceiling of 195 was reached my birth date had yet to be drawn. Fifteen draws later February 4 came out as the 210th pick. I was elated. I want to say I went out and celebrated but I went to sleep instead.

With a presumably safe lottery number, my motivation to study dwindled. Soon my grades slid. I went on academic probation and had to go to summer school. During that summer I met the woman whom I would marry and have two beautiful daughters with. Even though she and I divorced four years into our marriage, in a real sense that first lottery put me on the path to fatherhood. After I graduated I taught in public school for a year and then I returned to UGA where I earned a Masters and in time went on to establish a career as a writer. I look back on that first lottery as a major dividing line in my life.