My dear friend Fred has informed me he is no longer buying lottery tickets. After months of living in blissful denial and working himself up to magnificent lottery frenzy, his numbers never came through, or, more to the point, they let him down.

"I just don't get it," he told me on the phone, disappointment surging through his voice.

I hadn't the heart to tell him that from the start the odds were against him.

The last such call came one Wednesday night.

"Nothing," he bleated into the phone. "Absolutely nothing."

"Hang in there," I consoled. "There's always Saturday."

Each week the same conversation ensued with occasional variations on the theme.

Then, one night, Fred called, a modicum of elation in his voice.

"I finally did it," he announced.

"Really?" I bolted up in my chair.

"One number," he said. "My ticket had one winning number. It's a sign."

"Wow," I responded appropriately. "What does that entitle you to?"

"Not a thing, but at least, I'm on a roll."

Allow me to digress: the reason I even engage in such futile banter is because I have a stake in this utterly ridiculous ritual event. That's because Fred (a psychiatrist) has convinced me over the past few months that success was inevitable and quite possibly, imminent. That he is destined to win and when he does, I will be the other half of the windfall -- his partner in lottery lunacy. He shared with me his lucky numbers.

"May I, at least, split the cost of the tickets?" I offered, but Fred, being the sweet, benevolent person he is, likes sharing the wealth so that even when I (weakly) protested, he wouldn't hear of it.

"It's only a matter of time," he assured me, "and when it happens we're going to win big, that is, if you think $168 million is a lot of money."

I couldn't deny it had a lovely ring to it and sounded enticingly life altering. So much so I began fantasizing about it, which Fred being Fred enjoyed discussing, being that he's in the business of fantasies.

"So, what are you going to do with all the money?" he asked.

"Feel secure," I said. "Not have to worry."

"Are you worried?"

"Yes," I reiterated. "Worrying is my raison d'etre. I worry all the time."

"Maybe you need to see a shrink," he suggested.

Saturday night came and went with no word from Fred. Then, Sunday he called.

"Don't be upset," he prefaced, "but we didn't exactly win."

"I didn't lose sleep over it," I said.

"Good. I would hate being responsible for your sleep deprivation. I'd feel much too guilty."

I allayed his fears by telling him I wasn't expecting much.

"That's a defeatist attitude," he said. "Not healthy."

"Sorry," I repented. "I'll try and feign enthusiasm."

A few weeks later, Fred threw the ultimate blow: he said he was calling it quits.

"I've decided that purchasing lottery tickets is stupid. My numbers never win. I'm done."

I was secretly disappointed. I had grown accustomed to the thrill of it all. The expectation, the possibilities that lingered with each ticket purchase. Now, my hopes were dashed. Life suddenly seemed monotonous and boring. Until the other night when I had a most satisfying dream: I went to the store and bought a lottery ticket. When I checked in later that night, I discovered that my Quick Pick ticket with Fred's favorite numbers had won. I was to receive millions. I phoned him to report the news.

"You're delusional," he said, "dreams are merely unconscious wish fulfillments. You're living in FantasyLand. You need to get a grip. Stop buying lottery tickets immediately. No good can come of it."

"But what about my millions?"

"Were you planning to share them with me?" he asked."They were my numbers, after all."

"I hadn't thought about it,"

"That's a very hostile reaction," he said.

This is what happens when you get mixed up with a psychiatrist.

Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views every other Wednesday. She can be reached at: joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com