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After picking up art pieces left at Metro Times — used to illustrate a review of my January Scarab Club show — extremely favorable, I’ll modestly add — I wade through snow, slush, tooting traffic to stop across the street at the busy, busy Greek Town Casino.
I’ve tried my luck at the slots on a dozen occasions (using my overly ambitious right hand to set the spinning wheels of fortune in motion). I’ve won about $2000 and, turn about is fair lay, lost $200 over that amount.
My first-ever casino venture was before 9/11 at the rainbow-neon-lighted Windsor Casino. It was Thanksgiving. Turkey at the nearby Hilton Hotel, followed by gambling with then-single Triangle Foundation Board Member Ron Miotke. I hit for 650, tax-free U.S. dollars. Ron, for $125. (God save the Queen, and all those now holding American passports.)
Let me reassure my morally-fiber’d PG readers (there are a few in Flat Rock) that I’ve only the slightest hankering for gambling. I’m not addicted to gaming (unless its out-of-town escorts). I know nothing of baccarat, high stakes poker (as a kid I consistently — and willingly — lost at strip), shooting 7-come-11-or-come-whatever craps, or 21. (I outgrew 52 Pickup dozens of shuffles and hundreds of lay downs decades ago.)
When I won big time — $1000 playing the quarter slots — it was by accident. Instead of whacking the Play 1 key, I whacked the Play 3 key. The lights lit. The buzzer buzzed. And my mental whack-a-do euphoria clicked in. Thank you, Dr. Jesus!
I tipped $20 to a smiling employee who brought me my loot. I didn’t tell her that my winning was the result of miscoordination between my brain and my index finger. I left before she, and those at the envying slots around me, realized that I was a tyro, a gambling fraud.
This go around I had $36.75 in uncollected Cashout Vouchers. I cashed them in. Lost all but $17 in minutes. And having nothing better to do for the next half hour or so on a gray-blue Monday, I wandered around, listening to the nonstop hum and tinkle-binkle of 500 perfectly legit one-arm bandits. (It’s an hypnotic sound. Like the TV that yammers re-runs in the background while nobody watches or listens. A metaphor comes to mind. Silence = Death. Carpe Diem. Live for today, a quarter at a time.)
“Did you get your Mega Millions, my dear?” asks my movie-maven friend Gordon Barnard (aka Rita Hayworth), as I pick up the phone for his Tuesday dinnertime, check-on-Charles call. “It’s $370 million. Think of all the wonderful things you can do for me with that money.” “Reet, I’d be quite content to do a lot of things just for me on $50,000,” I answer. “Even $10,000, with free dinner and a deep-dish Rolfing massage for you.”
And yes: I trudge ten blocks to spend $5 on MM chances. (Two Easy Picks, three combos playing my SS#, my age reversed, and Elizabeth Taylor’s birth date: 2/27, by the way.)
Five bucks is cheap therapy for another ongoing fantasy of how I’d use the Mega Millions Midas Touch. How I’d make my remaining years as adventuresome — and pleasantly exhausting — as possible. How I’d donate millions to fight the Religious Right. How I’d live on a 40th floor of a high rise, hire a butch chauffeur who can cook . . .
Yes; if only too briefly, it beats thinking about Bush, Cheney, the Iraq War, the eroding environment, and growing angrily older day by day . . .