When I got into the cab to come home Saturday, my driver asked me where I was headed. When I said, “Orlando,” he replied: “Ah, right from one tourist trap to another.”
Um, no. In the world of mindgames, the “City Beautiful” is a wee babe compared to “Sin City.” While both of them lure you in with a honey pot of colored lights and the promise of dreams fulfilled, Orlando’s visions are made of cotton candy while those in Vegas are carrying a tray of adult beverages.
Orlando says, “Give us all your money, and you’ll have fun.”
Las Vegas says, “Give us all your money and you’ll have fun…and you might come away RICH!”
All this is to say that the only reason I left Vegas with fifty cents in my pocket was that the quarter slots don’t actually take quarters anymore.
It all started so simply. I was in Vegas for a week, and I had not touched a slot machine. It wasn’t that I avoided gambling on principle. Being there on business (trade show), I just hadn’t had time.
Well, Friday night after everything wound down, I decided to spend $40 goofing around in the hotel casino.
There are a couple of things you need to know before we proceed. First, I went into this with my superior intellect telling me that it was ok. “You have $40 to spend, and that is what you are doing. You cannot win. Therefore, you are spending money to have a fun few minutes of gaming.”
Second, all during the week whenever someone in our party would come back from the casino with the words, “I won $400 before I lost it all and quit,” the smug response would be, “Well, then you didn’t win $400, now, did you?”
With that, I hit the video blackjack machine. And won. And won. And won. Right up to the magic number of $400.
The conversation in my head went something like this:
Superior Intellect: Excellent. Now quit.
Me: Yeah, yeah. No problem.
Superior Intellect: You have more than you started with. Do the math.
Me: Yeah, yeah. Just let me double this hundred.
Superior Intellect: *sigh* I give up.
Me: No, really. I’ll just put this other $100 in my wallet. See? I’m guaranteed to leave with more than I started.
Superior Intellect: Idiot.
Me: Shut up! You didn’t think these games were fair. You thought I’d just lose it all in five minutes.
Superior Intellect: You’re drunk.
Me: I’m winning!
Superior Intellect: You’re a moron.
At one point, I even headed off to bed. But as I approached the elevator, I spied yet another area of the casino that I hadn’t seen before. When I awoke from my stupor, I was sitting in my hotel room flipping channels with a stunned look on my idiotic face. The only saving grace was that Superior Intellect teamed up with Common Sense and, using the voice of my mother, they prevented me from whipping out my ATM card for more cash.
In the end, I didn’t do anything more than what I had intended. I “spent” $40 to have a few hours of fun. Yet, I can still see those slips of paper with my momentary victory slipping out of my fingers and into a bill slot. As much as I tell myself that I made $400 before I lost it, the smug reply of Superior Intellect rings out: “Well, then you didn’t win, now, did you?”