Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gambling Thoughts/Whitney Houston

    It’s a weekend in the winter, and I’m out of town on a gambling trip with my sisters and brother-in-law.  Over the last year or so, I’ve really tried to spend time with them learning to play Texas Hold‘em (and Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps, to a much lesser extent).  I rarely win any money, but I never bring much to begin with, so it’s alright if I lose it, I suppose.

    The three of us came out here not too long ago (what, three hours?  Just over that?), and my big sister won quite a bit when she first arrived.  She handed me most of those winnings to put in my wallet so that, even if she madly blew through all the money she had, she could still go home ahead of when she started.  It was a clever move, and I wondered why people don’t do that sort of thing all the time.

    Then it occurred to me: people don’t usually win when they go to casinos, let alone right after they walk into a casino.  Sure enough, I blew through what little money I had had to spare for this trip, and ended up walking around, watching my sisters gamble, thinking I’d be better off in the room, watching the “Walking Dead” marathon on AMC.

    I’ve never really been lucky at the whole gambling thing, not like my brother is.  And though I accompany my sister to poker games every other week or so, I’ve never, ever won a game.  Which makes me wonder why I’d keep going with her.

    At least my sister knows she can give me money to hold onto and that I won’t spend it or gamble with it myself.  My brother-in-law has a bit of a problem with this (he’s of the philosophy that you have to spend money to make money, and though he blows a huge amount every trip, the few times he’s won, he REALLY won), but then he also enjoys the raising of the wrist, as Monty Python called it, and may forget how much he had or has spent.

   The point of being here wasn't really to spend time with our siblings, you see.  We’re here gambling, and I didn’t really have any money to gamble with, but I brought what little I had, and . . . I lost it all. Ah well.

    I did, however briefly, consider getting more from the ATM, but I have a strange, almost OCD block against getting money from strange ATMs, and have probably done so twice (maybe thrice) in the past fifteen years.  Instead, I wandered around, watching people win and lose, and thought about writing a story about a kid who gets drunk at a casino and starts to see monsters walking around, pretending to be regular gamblers.  Nobody else notices them, but he’s too drunk to do anything about it.

    I know that’s the kind of story I always write, but you never know how one idea will inspire another, and something good could come of it, right?

    So, I’m here in the motel room, by myself, naturally, and watching NOTTING HILL. There are two moments that don’t ring true to me in that flick (actually, the way Julia Roberts say “Nonsense it is” has always seemed awkward): the first is that the guys next to their table would be talking vulgarly about her, and the second is that a vegetarian would eat whatever was served to her just to be polite. I actually quite love the latter, as it’s the sort of thing that a man would want to marry a woman over, but since pretty much every single vegetarian I’ve ever met is a holier-than-thou douchebag, it just beggars believability.

    Still, I adore that movie, and now my family has come back to the room, and I don’t get to continue watching it.  Just remind me to watch it someday in the future.

    So, after I lost all the money, my sister told me she’d gotten a text that Whitney Houston had died.  I didn’t believe it at first, but sure enough, it was the big story on CNN.  You know, that’s too bad.  I was a really big Whitney Houston fan in my day.  Her second album was the first record by a female artist I ever bought, and in those days, I’d listen to those things over and over again. 
   I know that her music quality went way down, or people got sick to death of her BODYGUARD songs, but I’ve nothing but nostalgia for her early music.  She was forty-eight, and you know, that ain’t that old.  It seemed old as a kid, sure, but it’s right around the corner, and who knows if she would’ve made more good music, or had some kind of middle-aged career resurgence.


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