This morning the telephone rang while I was downstairs washing some slacks, so I rushed upstairs and caught it on the 14th ring. To my surprise it wasn't my daughter in Tulsa or my neighbor Cecil, but a young man who told me I'd qualified for the final prize round for a trip to exotic Mexico City! I didn't remember signing up for any trip to exotic Mexico City, but I told the man, "Why, that's super—I would like to win a prize!"

Okay, I'll admit it—I'm doggone contest crazy. Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, Coca-Cola's Win a Trip to Super Bowl XXXI, the Mobil Giant Gas Giveaway—if there's a prize to be won, you can bet I'm in the running, buster. Why, I'd even request my Social Security check in stamps if my licker and stickers weren't so sore as it is from all the entry forms I send away!

Down at Spregler's Food World during Tropical Days this year, I stuffed every box chock full of my name. I was the first person there at 8 a.m., and I was still writing at closing time, when Mr. Spregler politely asked me to leave.

All that hard work sure paid off, though. I was notified the next week that I could come and pick up my complimentary case of canned pineapple at the convenience counter!

Now, the wife isn't much of a fruit eater, and as for me, I've hardly been able to keep anything sweet down since my gall bladder surgery in February. But I just made my eighth glazed ham since winning the pineapples a few weeks ago, and I figure what I don't use up by the end of the month, I'll give out at Halloween, a few slices in a zip-lock baggie for each little hungry goblin.

I've won a lot of other things, too. I won 40 percent off all my long distance calls for a month just by switching to AT&T. I won a canary from a pet store, but after buying the cage and the food, it died on the way home. It looked pretty good hanging from the rear-view mirror, though.

I won a free carpet cleaning over the phone, but I did have to fake a diabetic attack to make them leave when I wouldn't buy the machine. "Damned Insulin!" I yelled over and over again, with my eyes all bugged out, backing them out the door by spitting orange juice at them.

I won a free car wash with a gas fill-up by scratching off my Amoco game piece. In fact, I've won that every time I've filled up. I tell you, I'm lucky! I won a screwdriver set with a mail-in entry form at Klimke Hardware. It was quite a lovely day trip driving out to get it. I'd never been to Canada before.

I also won five free sauna hours at Better You Health Club. After I bought a membership to the club for $59.99, I went straight to the steam room. It was just like I'd seen on that episode of Night Court, except we don't have any wise-cracking black men in Cedarburg.

In the end, I didn't have such a great time, though, because I didn't know I didn't have to take my five free sauna hours all at once. The aerobics instructor found me on the floor in there and pulled my flame-red, wrinkled body out into the lobby by my ankles. I woke up when the cool air hit me, but I decided right then and there to leave the steaming for the broccoli.

Now the wife, she thinks I'm loco for entering all these contests, but I told her that when I win that trip to exotic Mexico City, she just doesn't have to come. Instead she can sit home and read the 41 magazine subscriptions I ordered. On the other hand, it would be nice to have her along to carry some of those packages the man said I'd have to take with me through customs.