Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sin City Chapter Four: Learning when to say No.


Aside from mama and dada, it's one of the first words a kid learns how to say, to the irk of many parents.

"Brush your teeth." "No."
"Eat your creamed peas." "No!"
"Go to sleep." "NO!!"

We learn how to say no at an early age, and it's reinforced along the way when we schooled on the perils of sex, drugs and awful rock & roll fashions.

Somewhere in there, the ill temptations of gambling are forgotten.

I had the "no" thing down pat where drugs were concerned, it was a little less reliable where sex was involved back in the day, but it didn't stand a chance in the realm of any Las Vegas casino.

The glitter (or is that neon?), the tempting cha-chings... it was all so intoxicating. Sporadic shouts of joy erupting from time to time throughout the opulent gaming hall... they were all like little lures catching on bits of foolish hope I had embedded deep within me.

A nickel slot machine at New York, New York broke me in easy.

I thought 20 chances in one buck, surely it'll bring in some bacon to Baby.

Fat chance.

Then one dollar became two... and two became five.

Fortunately, that time I was rescued by the two friends vacationing with me.

But the lure of the One Armed Bandit is a powerful one, and it dragged me in to casino after casino, chasing down that elusive pot of gold.

I can see how gambling is an addiction for folks, similar to that of alcohol, drugs or even sex.

I threw a few shiny coins in on several occasions: when I was bored, when I was bummed and when I was wanting do something fun.

The same three reasons I used to drink.

But I digress.

I only learned to say No to the slots my last few hours.

On my last day in Vegas, I walked out of Caesar's with no more than 10 dollars in my pocket, having lost five bucks in fewer minutes in one of those God forsaken slots.

At that point, no was a necessity.

The ten spot was enough money for me to take a shuttle to the airport and have, like, three dollars left over.

I was really, really hungry that last day.

But already, on the flight back East, I was plotting my next trip, and the requisite bigger budget.

Up next: the final chapter.
Sin City Chapter Five: Flaunting what my mama gave me!

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