Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Taking a Gamble

Last week we took a spontaneous one-night vacation up to Cadillac, where I used to live -- just for fun; just because we can. We found an inexpensive dog-friendly motel, so we were able to bring Gertie along too.

We drove up early Friday morning, in a cold, steady rain, which literally dampened our plans for antiquing and other activities requiring a lot of in-and-out. Because I'm a good partner and know that Fellow Traveler enjoys an occasional trip to a casino, I suggested that we drive across M-55 to Manistee -- a city FT had never visited before -- and check out the casino there.

As frequent readers here might remember, gambling is not one of my favorite pastimes. I tend to be pretty tenacious in holding onto my money, for one thing. For another, the sad parade of the lame and the halt who frequent casinos always makes me depressed -- far from the buff young party people in the casino commercials and billboards, casino floors are crowded with the desperate elderly, often crippled or on oxygen or both. Sometimes I think this is the poor, impious person's Lourdes.

But even as I say this I have to admit: I win when I visit these places. I don't know why. I don't know why I, as a disciplined and not terribly excited occasional visitor, multiply my modest investment while the haggard old fellow with the cane and the O2 tank next to me loses all his money. And I do it on the penny slots.

Fellow Traveler, who actually does enjoy games of chance, is sometimes frustrated by my lack of exuberance at these venues. On this particular trip, I'd won $300 before quitting; enough to pay for our lodging and our food. "I had fun. Did you have fun?" she asked, there in the cashier's line. "Uh-huh," I replied. "That doesn't sound like fun," she replied in bemusement.

Well, um...no; a pleasant surprise, maybe. And maybe it's just Lutheran/northern European guilt for acquiring a gain through something other than work. Fun for me was the next day, when we went on an unscheduled expedition farther north to the Leelanau to sightsee and pick up some favored agricultural products (Boskydel vin blanc from Lake Leelanau and various smoked delicacies from Pleva's butcher shop in Cedar). Fun for me was also just getting out of our usual environs for 48 hours.

And fun was seeing Gertie go on her first overnight vacation with us. She was such a good lodger; we had no problems with her being away from home. She seemed to enjoy the novelty of sleeping in a different place (although since we'd packed her favorite binkies and a tote bag full of her favorite toys, it wasn't all that different), and she spent much of the two days with her head out the window, drinking in the sights and smells of northern Michigan with great gusto.

Even though we were bone-tired when we got back here, we've decided that these little mini-breaks in the routine are worth doing on at least a quarterly basis. We are seriously considering, next time we're feeling happy feet, closing our eyes, taking a wild stab at a map of Michigan, and then heading whereever our deciding finger lands. Now, that's a gamble that does sound fun to me.


Verdugo said...

I actually married into the other end of the gambling biz-- "the house". My observations from the inside are pretty much the same as your outside perspective-- it's kind of a sad (albeit profitable) place. We divested ourselves of our "holdings" asap-- just didn't feel like a world we wanted to be a part of.

I'm glad you and FT are getting some adventures of all sorts in-- unemployment seems to be agreeing with you!

LutheranChik said...

Unemployment is treating me well, yes.;-)

And I should moderate my comment -- it's not that I hate being at the casino (unless there's no smoke-free section), or that I don't enjoy the surprise of a win. But I have a kind of workmanlike attitude toward the whole thing: My job there is to: 1)not to lose money; and 2)if I'm winning, know when to quit. I have no illusions about "luck" there, and I know that the house always holds the winningest deck. It's one of the times when my natural cynicism works in my favor.;-)

Tom in Ontario said...

I refuse to patronize the nearby gambling houses or the government run gambling of lottery tickets. It's so often those who can least afford it, who end up losing the most. I went with my daughter's class a few years ago on a school trip to the courthouse and watched the sentencing of a man who was caught cheating at the casino. He ruined his life with gambling. His wife and kids moved across the country so that he couldn't ruin their lives more than he already had. I don't believe gambling is innocent fun when so many are totally devastated by it.

Ditto with the lotteries. It makes my heart ache when I see the old folks plopping down 20, 30, 50 dollars on tickets, money that they're never likely to see again.