Yesterday was a first for me.
I went to our local gambling den.
No, I haven’t fallen into the depths of depravity, at least not as far as games of chance go. Quite basically, I don’t gamble. I regard gambling as akin to taking a roll of bills and lighting them on fire. The end result is, in my opinion, about the same. True, I do buy a lottery ticket once a week, but have no delusions about the odds of winning. It’s just a kind of pro forma thing that I’ve done for ages. Otherwise a Vegas ambience is not for me. Anyway, Elvis is dead and I detest Celine.
But I was to meet a friend for lunch and she suggested that it might be fun to go to the casino. Not to gamble, but simply to have lunch in a different setting. Of course, the casino wasn’t at all like I had envisioned it to me – OK, the ‘romantic’ in me had envisioned it. It was smoke-filled, populated with dodgy characters with scarred faces and pencil-thin moustaches, and babes with cleavage and boobs out to there, but all looking slightly debauched and cynical, kinda place. A bit like Rick’s in Casablanca, minus Rick, Ilsa and especially fez-topped Sydney Greenstreet.
I feared it might have the feeling of a hookah-parlor Wendy and I once visited in Brussels (at the invitation of friends there who insisted it was the ‘coolest place.’ It wasn’t. Immediately in there we wanted to leave. But, our friend had worked in the Middle East for a year prior to going to Belgium and had gotten seduced by the allure the water-pipe. So, we went in. I partook of the aromatic tobacco concoction (nothing more virulent). Wendy refrained as she has never smoked and wasn’t about to start in a Belgian back alley venue in which we were served by a swarthy looking dude who looked like he ran a white-slavery racket on the side.
As a contrast, the casino was clean and neat, smoke-free (PC requirements demand there be no partaking of tobacco, but booze and money squandering seem to be de rigueur for such places. Who am I to judge? Well, I can judge, and can judge such nonsensical hypocrisy outrageously, but what’s the point?
So anyway, once within we wandered about. Checked out the eatery, which was a couple of tables and a counter, and boasted a menu that made Dairy Queen seem inspired in terms of culinary offerings. We decided to go elsewhere for a bite.
But, before we left we glanced around to feel the vibe of the casino. It was just what it said it was. There were slot-machines and bingo video terminals and all the other hi-tech crap designed to get people who could ill-afford it to part with their cash and maybe-maybe-maybe (or maybe-maybe-maybe –NOT, being the more likely scenario) win something to justify their extravagance.
Personally, I think that if you are about paying for ‘vice’, then hire a hooker. At least you’re guaranteed to get something in return. But, that’s just me.
But, what did strike me was the age demographic of those indulging in those games of chance. They were ‘old’. Not middle-aged. Not even late middle-aged. They were old farts. I would guess a mean age in the neighborhood of 70 or more, all diligently squandering their kids’ potential inheritances.
OK, these were people who had no doubt worked hard all their lives and were entitled to a bit of fun. I guess my point is, how is this fun? How is flushing away your money (that you probably worked hard for) fun? Go on a cruise. Take that trip to Tahiti that you always meant to take. Get yourself a nice car.
But gambling? When all the odds are against you? I just don’t get. I always wanted a guaranteed return with my vices.