The other day my friend said, "Let's go to the casino." Words I usually don't like to hear for my own reasons. I would rather hear something like, "Would you like me to bake chocolate chip cookies?"
I really don’t like going to them. I think the most I ever won was $300. I feel as if I should just hand over my money directly to the manager and call it a day. I've never experienced the rush such as the young, attractive well-dressed people all with their arms in the air as they posed for the advertising material.
When we got there and walked into the main room the airwaves greeted us with so many sounds of buzzers, sirens, and the cha-chinging of the fake coins hitting metal baskets.
I was already experiencing a rise in my anxiety.
The modern casino has put to pasture the lonely slot machine where actual silver dollars would spill out into a tray if a person won. The person playing could "Woo-pah" and be congratulated by those in the area. I guess it is part of progress where we trade a peaceful enjoyable environment for a noisy, crowded, non-personal one where cash is not king, but stress is.
Today's machines are computer generated screens with so many variations to win, trying to read the rules (as I attempted) can leave one a headache.
We bounced around from machine to machine. I followed, watching my friend smile and repeatedly call “Come on, Bessie” as she tapped the play button. I was happy to see her smile and enjoying herself. Her entire adult life has been being a single mom to a couple of sons and a special needs daughter, so she really doesn't get to relax often or have quality alone time.
There was one game, in particular, she zoned in on like a hound chasing the scent of a fox. The goal of it was to get three boxes each with a wild horse just to get the chance to win various numbers of free spins in which you can win some money. In the process of trying to get those, there are alternate things that happen, such as getting one box with a horse and the machine yells out, "Free Spirit"…like you won something, but alas, you didn’t. You still lost your original bet.
Watching my friend play, I noticed a pattern. She would place a bet, win back a portion of the original bet, and be happy she won. When she lost a bunch of games in a row, there would be a win paying out just enough to keep her trying to win the big payout.
I know gambling is entertainment to many as evidenced by the cast of characters around the room. I saw a white-haired, elderly lady perched up in her chair staring at the game like a jackal attacking dead meat. She didn't even notice her glasses hanging down to the tip of her nose.
I saw a man sitting at a machine holding his body up against it to keep from falling over. His wheelchair was parked next to it. It would be more beneficial to allow someone to roll his or her chair up to the machine to reach it. We need to make these things handicapped accessible. In fact, there should be games in Braile so the blind could also spend their last dollar in false hopes.
I wondered how much of their disability or retirement checks were going into this orchestrated business of hooking people into a fantasy of instant riches so they can eat real food instead of cat food while raising income for big business and the local city and state coffers for political waste.
This fake promise of instant riches is not new as slot machines have been around since the first slot machine invented in 1887 by Charles Fey of San Fransico.
After a period of not hitting it big at the wild horse's game, my friend’s attention was brought to another one...a Willy Wonka type game where you need to get three golden tickets to win extra chances to win money. At this game, Willie sang, “Oompa Loompa,” Slugworth snarled, and the fat kid got sucked up the tube while eating chocolate.
While she was enthralled in that game, I was having a mental meltdown dealing with all the noise. My ADHD was in high gear. But I kept it in check.
I momentarily thought of how many people suffered light-induced seizures and needed to be carried out screaming...”Just one more!”
I heard sounds of something like the Beer Barrel Polka. I went to check out that game and on the home screen was an extremely large breasted blonde cartoon woman that held a frosty mug of beer…the gotcha? She winked at me. Holy Cow. I can't even get a real woman to wink at me. So I had to play. As usual, as with real-life women, I lost money.
Still not winning, we wandered back following the scent of the fox to try out the three wild horse game one more time before leaving.
My friend sat down and pushed the play button. The screen spun, the slides slid, the lights flashed, the bursts blasted, all of which attacked the physiology of the body. When it all stopped, three boxes of wild horses showed which meant she WON...the chance to win extra spins!.
My mind was not really on that game— it was still being bombarded with surrounding sounds of the other games, although I did hear some noise going on with her machine. She hit some sort of jackpot because the machine kept dinging. After five minutes the bells and whistles finally stopped dinging and I asked my friend if she won it big… No, she won $52 in pennies!
Bessie had finally come home!
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