Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Money Climb

Two weeks ago, I took my husband to Las Vegas, with a stopover in Utah, for his birthday. Now, I’ve been to Vegas before, and I know when they say, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” they’re talking about my money, but let’s face it gambling is fun. Anyway, it’s not about the money lost but all that wonderful time thinking you could be the big winner. Oh, and I think Carrot Top does some shows there. This trip to Vegas I tried something I’ve never done before, I sat with my husband at the sports book. I was pretty sure he’d had enough of me when I started texting him during the college football games. I would’ve talked to him, but the whole mood there was so somber. It was like church, and I was afraid the God of Big Screen TV might smite me. After my husband informed me that he didn’t text in the sports book—who knew this religion had so many rules, I decided to head off on my own.

Ah, the smells of Vegas, cigarettes, blue syrup, vodka, stale perfume, and the sweat of distraction. Okay, so you endure the smells of Vegas, but you are a stronger person then me if you’ve never been enthralled by the slots, with their lights and sounds and desperate promises for riches. I was nearly taken in by several machines, including Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and the Pot O’ Gold with the happy prospector kicking up his heels, but I knew I had found my nirvana when I came across Wheel OF Fortune. That’s the way the machine says it, with the OF shouted at you. Plus, there’s the sound of people clapping, and that tick, tick, tick of the wheel, and so many pastel colors. Yay! With a card full of cash and nothing to lose, I sat down between a very friendly Indian man and a woman who smoked while she spoke. It was a neat trick, and I told my lungs they’d have to endure, because this particular machine had my lucky number in the jackpot, and that was a sign from Pat and Vanna.

I became completely addicted to WOF in a very short time. When SPIN came up on the machine, meaning the wheel with pastel colors began turning, and the shouting and clapping and tick, tick, tick started, I was bouncing in my seat, and not just when it came up on my machine. I was bouncing for my friendly Indian man and for Smokes While She Talks. And they in turn came to root for me when it was my turn to SPIN. Sadly, all this watching of the SPIN cycle clued me into something I might have otherwise missed—these games are rigged people. I know, I know, they’ve always been rigged, but usually you get a good couple hours of crazy hope before your money is finally and irrevocably snatched from you. Not so, with these machines.

I’ve never experienced slots as quick and greedy as the Wheel OF Fortune machines. Could it be that Vegas re-rigged its machines to make up for the downturn in the economy? Or is it really these particular machines? And if so, are Pat and Vanna aware that their good names are being besmirched by the tacky wantonness of Vegas? I barely got to know friendly man from India and Smokes While She Talks before our collective dollars ran out and we all wandered away, sad and disappointed. Wait, I’m supposed to think that I can win, to get my hopes up, to laugh with strangers and order drinks from a girl wearing clothes a preemie couldn’t squeeze into. What happened to the hours of mindless fun, the slow drawing out of my cash, and the sudden loss of money that takes me be surprise, but leaves me laughing, because damn I came close? This was a straight out rip off. Your lights are all for show Vegas.

Dejected, I had to walk back to sports book and sit there while my husband and his congregation erupted in reflexive cheers and boos that only the truly devote understand. Ugh, I wanted to have fun, to spend my money in mindless hours of titillation, like that novel about vampires, but it turns out, Vegas has gone from slow lover with an easy touch to the quick greed of a pubescent boy’s first sexual encounter. Sadly, people, Wheel OF Fortune—complete misnomer.

**If you wondering where the Climb in the title of the blog comes into play, you’ll have to wait for me to work up the courage to post about it. After Vegas, my husband and I went to Utah and climbed Angel’s Landing with my son. FYI, the name sounds lovely, but the climb involved my panicked pleas, near death, tarantulas, and a terrified Japanese man.


  1. Well said. I personally I always convince myself I'm going to win big at luck games but when you don't win at least you had fun right? Vegas, what happened to you? You used to be cool.