Thursday, July 2, 2009

You Feelin' Lucky, Putz?

I went to a casino for the first time!

Half the audience will be thinking "well, good for him! He went out and tried something new. He has expanded his horizons and inhaled some nice spicy tobacco smoke," and the other half will be thinking "what a moron this moron is."

You're both right.

I had a day off of work, intending originally to spend it thrashing about in a river with a stick, but since our canoeing trip got canceled, we went to a casino.

I don't want to ruin the magic for the uninitiated, so I will call it the Snoring Seagull casino, located in Mt. Decent, Michigan. It was at least a two-hour drive from my home in Lieoming, the Town of Great Untruths, also known as Fakestown or FooDaddyopolis.

"We're going to a casino this weekend," The Girlfriend informed me.

"Okay," I said.

I had never been, and it's good for us agoraphobes to get out there and do new things to kind of build up a tolerance, like an oyster who hates shopping. The entire extent of my exposure to and knowledge of casinos comes from the opening sequence to the show CSI. I expected a lot of flashing lights, a lot of women whose clothes had been picked out by horny sequin salesmen, and perhaps a murder victim behind the slot machines.

What I saw when I arrived looked more like a weird shopping mall, amusment park hybrid. There was also a whole dealer's lot worth of cars parked under the huge awning out front. Quite a few of them had their headlights on, and there were maroon-vested valets popping up here and there amongst the rows of cars, like prairie dogs with hats.

"Strange," I muttered, and pulled the door open.

Inside was a sprawling grid of lights, constantly in motion. To simulate this for yourself, turn on your television and put your nose about an inch from the screen. See all those little colored dots all in rows? Now imagine a tiny little grim-faced senior citizen sitting behind each of them, swatting at buttons. That's the Snoring Seagull's game floor seen from the entrance.

"None of those people look like they're having any fun," I remarked to nobody. "It looks like some kind of evil ski lodge in here," I continued to my audience of me, noting the rough-hewn wooden rafters and bird themed decor.

After our group of four huddled in the lobby for a few minutes, we sent out tentative probes; one of us would dart out, look at a brochure, and then make a report. This is how we found the bill changer machines.

Looking back, the bill changer was the most enjoyable machine that Snoring Seagull had. You never lost a cent, and you still got to push buttons and watch flashing lights.

I put a ten dollar bill in, and it grunted a bit and spit out two fives.

"Heh," I said. I put one of my fives in the slot and it was magically transformed into the appropriate number of singles. I was going to keep going until I got down to pennies, and then put one of those in to see what the machine did, but there was a line of hollow-eyed folks behind me. I grabbed my ones and scooted. Time to hit the slots.

What a choice! Hundreds of machines, all shaped the same with the same controls, but with different colorful graphics and numbers of dials. Did I want to have my money stolen by an Arabian prince? Or how about a monkey with diamonds for eyes? Perhaps a walrus in a limousine would be just what I needed? I wandered around until I found the old-looking machines that still had the levers on the side and real, mechanical dials--the infamous "one-armed bandits".

I gave the bandit a dollar. For this modest fee, I was treated to the joy and wonder of spinning wheels with meaningless numbers and pictures on them that click to a halt in a precise sequence that, when decoded, meant the bandit got to keep my dollar.

"Whee," I said, and gave it another.

My buddy Craig was the first to find out that if you went up to the Visitor's Center and stood in line for a while, you could get a little plastic card on a lanyard with ten bucks programmed onto its magnetic stripe.

"They figure you'll lose it back to them, and then some if you're still feeling lucky," he said with a shrug.

He was right, of course. I had already burned through all of my ones and had just fed my fiver into the slot machine.

"Lemme just try this once more." I pulled the lever, the dials clicked off one by one, and...

...oh my God...

I was a winner! A $3.75 winner! Before the bandit could tempt me further with its sly sevens or its enticingly shiny lever, I pressed the "Collect Winnings" button.

I tensed.

I expected to be showered with nickels; a tidal wave of them, gushing from the tray at the machine's base, me trying to catch them in my hat while fending off with punches and kicks the human vultures who fell upon my winnings with their clutching hands!

What happened was the machine printed me a receipt. This slid languidly out of a little slot and then just hung there limply, swaying in the gentle breeze of a passing octogenarian.

"Fuck," I said.

So I got my ten dollar first-timer card. I ended up losing eight of it in various other slot machines and then I just left it in one of them. Let some poor sucker try to figure out my PIN and suck the last two bucks out of it. I was done with the Snoring Seagull and with slot machines entirely.

Perhaps my luck will be better down at the track.


  1. Well, sounds like Lady Luck was a real you-know-what. I've heard, though, if you attack a security person before playing the slots, your luck improves. Namely, by being thrown out before you have the opportunity to lose your money.

    Yet another spiffy header! Like.

  2. I LOVE this header. I would say that it is one of my favorites.

    Lady Luck can bite me. I will win if I ever come across her again.

  3. I agree with CCG. Probably the best yet.


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