Aug. 28, 2013
What pleasure people get from gambling eludes me. It seems. . . I don’t know . . . risky?
My attitude is partially rooted in my grandmother’s Methodist upbringing. Her mother kept the curtains closed on the side of the house that faced the neighbours, who whiled away lazy West Texas Sunday afternoons with shameless and wanton card playing. If that was not bad enough, they also kept chickens. In town! But I digress.
Gambling seems to me a losing proposition. Oh, I know, I know. You might win a little something here, a little there, but you’re never going to beat the house. Everyone who likes gambling knows of someone who won it big, but it wasn’t them.
“Oh, but it’s so exciting! I do it for the thrill.”
Yeah. The same way zip lines and roller coasters are exciting – shit your pants exciting. No thank you. There’s already enough of that going on in casinos.
And what is it about casinos, anyway? Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend a second in a dark, low ceilinged room in a mantle of cigarette smog, next to some old guy in a ripe Depends? And all those little lights – flashing, flashing. It’s enough to trigger an epileptic seizure. And I’m not even an epileptic.
Disembarking from an elevator in Harrah’s in Las Vegas one morning to score a couple of Starbucks lattes, I paused to let paramedics past. They had a male patient on a stretcher; an ambulance waited on the curb. They were coming from the casino. Well, I thought. My point exactly.
“You can’t win, if you don’t play!” The gambler’s mantra. But it's not true. I won once. Big. And betting had nothing to do with it. When I was eleven years old, I put a dime in a candy machine . . . and it emptied. The entire machine. What’s more, there was no one else around and, get this, there was also a large empty grocery sack close by. Needless to say, I bagged my winnings and took off running.
In retrospect, I hope the poor guy who serviced the machine didn’t have the damages taken out of his wages, forcing his family onto the street. At the time, however, I ascribed my windfall to luck. After all, I had done my part. I had inserted my dime, expecting nothing more than a single, solitary Snickers bar. What happened next was nothing less than pure serendipity.
So I'm going to rest on my laurels and not push my luck. Such bounty is unlikely to come my way again and I’m easy with that. After all, I have my knitting and, of course, the memories.