Sure Things

DSC_6909Vegas is sorta like a black-hole hovering above your pocket-book. It swirls before you, awesome in its intensity and attraction, pulling your cash and soul into its vortex until you’ve been stripped of all but your sticky bones–like some Buffalo Wing on game-day.


Taxi drivers, parking meters, gas pumps and even the laundry mat I visited yesterday, seem geared to suck the buck out of suckers like me. The sign on the door said “Las Vegas Coin Op Laundry,” yet no machine accepted coins–only cards which cost an initial $5 to load. I only needed $3 worth of machine use–and would not be a repeat customer–so I left the remaining two-bucks, and the card, to the old Hippy running the place. He eagerly nabbed it and stuck it in a bucket full of other discarded cards which I imagine might add up to a tidy bit of dirty sock insurance for himself. Talk about laundering cash.

I don’t typically gamble. Well, not often with money at least. I’ve certainly done some risky things with my life in the past: flying on tiny planes in big weather; black-ice driving on Wyoming’s winter highways; eating questionable fare at casino buffets. But the stupidest thing I’ve ever done (or at least somewhere in the top five) is laying cold, flaccid cash down on the green felt in Las Vegas.

Now, here I was with Maritess, fresh from the Philippines and fully glitter-bitten by the spectacle all around us. The high-rise casino only wishing to hug the money from our marrow–yet something told me it wouldn’t hurt to drop an Abe Lincoln into one of the trillion slots smirking all around us. But which one? How is it that people get drawn to one barking bandit over another?

She had no idea what I was thinking as I led her in serpentine fashion between the smokey rows of sad, whiskey-grizzled men and gin-burping elder ladies, but when I saw the cartoon version of Dean Martin sipping a martini with the title, Pool Party written above his head (much like love), it just felt right. I handed her a crisp five-dollar-bill, which the greedy cold lips of the machine slurped up.

We started with penny bets at first for a couple of minutes just to see how this thing worked. But after a couple of dimes-worth of credits had flushed away into the casino’s either, I suggested she push the 40-credit button and expedite this trite lesson on what not to do with your money … and then, voilà, she hit a winner. Suddenly we had over $17 looking us in the face and were up the cost of the prime rib buffet I’d gobbled up a few minutes earlier. Kismet.

Here’s where the boys are left wanting by those with real meat on their wish-bones. We immediately cashed out, running like bandits to the bank.

It's not much, but it's more than we started with.
It’s not much, but it’s more than we started with.

I’ll never get rich as a gambler because I’ll never risk enough to matter. I never pass up a found penny, nor squander the change I find in my cushions. It’s about respect for what’s been given to me. I think that’s why I’ve never gone without. Mine’s a low-risk mindset which those who gamble surely must mock on some level, but when I leave Vegas with my lady on my arm, tickled by her $12 winnings and sporting a million-dollar smile, I’m willing to wager that I’m the luckiest guy in tinsel town.

We plan to return in a couple of months. This time, all bets are off though as we’ll be getting married and putting all our proverbial eggs in one nesting basket. Some think I’m taking the biggest gamble of all, with the track record I’ve had, but it’s as if I can hear ol’ Dino humming in my ear, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,” …  and it feels like a sure thing.