Of all the many splendid things the holiday season brings, weight-gain and Seasonal-Affect Disorder included, I think the gifts of this particular Christmas season have far out-shined any of the past, and possibly the future.
This year, Santa brought me the Red Hawk Casino.
I never used to like casinos until Red Hawk came along. The only time in my life I had ever gambled before was once when I was 18. Some friends and I took a late-summer sojourn to the Jackson Rancheria where I immediately lost $11.50 on some quarter slots. After the shocking blow to my already unstable confidence in the art of frittering money away, I vowed to never gamble again. Multiple trips to Vegas during college were moderately expensive, and the few dollars I had in my piddly bank account were spent on hotel rooms, trashy outfits, and lots of booze. My lavish lifestyle left me rich in memories, but close to penniless, so of course I wasn't going to lose the meager leftovers playing Keno next to a geriatric chain-smoker at the Barbary Coast.
But things have changed now. Old people don't bother me as much, and I've discovered that Keno is actually fun. The vow I once made has been broken, because friends, you're reading the words of a winner.
On my first visit to the Hawk (ca-caw!), I won $115 on some two-cent machines called "Hot Shot." I love Hot Shot. Yes, it's mindless, and most of the time you don't really win much more than maybe 60 cents, but if you're lucky like me you'll hit what they call a Double-Money, or Triple-Money, or Extra-Money bonus round. Getting a bonus round is like taking a giant hit of heroin. Now, I've never taken a hit of heroin, but I'd imagine this is as close as I'll ever come. The game console lights up, the tone of the music rises, reaches a climax, and Woo-Hoo!! You've won!! When I saw that little cash counter going up and up and up, well, I just about peed.
On my second visit to my new favorite place, I won $54 playing Caveman Keno. This otherwise obscure game would have gone unplayed had it not been for the sage advice of my mother, who knowingly indulges my unhealthy behavior. Caveman Keno only costs a quarter per play, which makes it somewhat more affordable than other games, and it keeps you playing for a good long time. In other words, it's an Endurance Game. Endurance Game is a term I just coined, so you can all thank me for that.
Oh! And there are free self-serve soda machines! (Sorry, no free booze. Yes, I too was disappointed). So if you're sorta down on your luck, just think, you're paying yourself back with every Pepsi you drink. MSRP on a medium Pepsi is roughly $2.00, so if you need to justify losing any significant part of your savings, just think, it's money you would have spent on drinks anyway. Perfectly sound logic if you ask me.
I'm sure that had my first two visits to this Native American paradise had resulted in losses, this blog would have never happened. But the reality is that I did win, and I might have a gambling addiction. I get high just talking about it. Just this morning I had the idea to create a gambling jar where I can put spare change, and then when it fills I'll reward myself for being a diligent change-saver and I'll use the money to feed my addiction at Red Hawk. What else am I going to do with my spare change? Probably nothing. I love this plan!
Naturally, it's best to manage all vices with care and moderation. But it's really hard when you reach that moment, just before placing another bet, and the room becomes latent with possibility. You press your finger to the button, and Hope is palpable. The music plays in a celebration of potential wealth and prosperity. The Future is calling.
Anyway, if you're in the foothill area, call me and I'll show you what I mean. Visualize the win, embrace the poor-odds, and drink the ambrosia of the soda machine.
Just don't get pissed at me if you lose.
In a time where things are looking grim for a lot of people, the Red Hawk Casino is like a shiny, neon, blinking beacon of hope, lighting the thick economic darkness. Not only does it offer the chance of coming home a winner, it's also a local employer. So gambling can't be all that bad. I love it there, and until I lose money, I will keep returning.
It is so damn scary how close that place is.