Vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the reservation. We make our way up to the Nation of Menominee – to the casino.
The casino brings out the worst in me.
Making big decisions, such as buying a house, a car, or moving across the country, is easy. For some horrible and inconvenient reason I sweat the small stuff. Pink or red nail polish? Egg roll or Wonton soup?
The casino is hell for a sweat-the-small-stuff kind of person. Do I want to play blackjack? Maybe the slots? How about roulette? Oh! There’s the craps table . . . Fine! I’ll play roulette. I get my $20.00 worth of pink chips. I sure wish she’d given me green chips. Oh well, I don’t think I’m allowed to complain about the color of my chips. Now I have to decide which numbers or combination of numbers to put my chips on. And how much to bet on the numbers I choose. Ugh! Okay, all the other people standing around the roulette table are giving me the stink eye, silently screaming, “hurry up, my money is burning a hole in my cargo shorts!” Ugh! Fine. I choose my numbers and the dealer announces, “no more bets”. Ugh. Did I choose the right numbers? I should have chosen those other numbers. Ugh. The little ball finishes its whirling and lands on nine. Ugh. I didn’t choose nine! My pink chips are gracefully swept away as the dealer smiles at me. It’s a good thing the chips no longer feel like real money.
Ten minutes later my pink chips are all in the hands of the dealer and my decision to move on is made for me. That was easy . . . and quick. On to the slots. Great! Two thousand machines beckoning me to insert my money. Do I want to play Goldfish Glitz? Lucky 7? Stargate SG1? Cleopatra II? Or the one with the cute penguins dancing with diamonds? I choose one of the fancy paper shredders that will eventually eat $20.00 and 40 minutes of my day.
Unfortunately, the decision making part isn’t the the worst part.
I’m increasingly irritated by the fact that the woman sitting at the slot machine next to me is balancing her bag of peanut M&Ms and her ashtray on what lap she has left as she holds her beer in her left hand and she punches the “repeat bet” button with her right hand. I don’t think my irritation is solely from the smoke she’s blowing in my face. I can’t really explain why, but I want to get away from the man sitting two seats away. He’s a loud mouth-breather who seems to be watching my screen, not his own. I want him to stop watching me lose money. I also want him to stop breathing so loudly. I cash out and walk around. I wonder about the woman with no shoulders. Why did she choose the tank top with little spaghetti straps? The straps are halfway down her arms.
I decide that there is an aura of pathetic that settles around the people in the casino. I wonder if it affects everyone in there. I look at the lady with the word “goofy” tattooed on her neck and I see it there. I look at the lady with the dyed hair at the blackjack table and I see it there. I see it in the elderly man who just lost over $200 on one round at the roulette table. As I walk around I see the aura settle in all the faces around me.
When I’ve burned up all the money in my pocket, I head to the ladies’ room. That’s when I see it. It’s there – the aura of pathetic. It’s more real and more palpable than I’ve witnessed all night. I look away from my reflection with shame. In that mirror I see the things I hate most. Pride. Hypocrisy. Judgement.
Yes, it appears the aura of pathetic settled around at least one person at the casino. Me.