Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Or the terrorists win.

Yesterday was the six month anniversary of 9/11. Since 1970 I’ve been trying to convince people to celebrate my half birthday as well as my actual birthday, but nope, didn’t get cards, didn’t get presents, didn’t get articles in the NY Times on how the world has changed since my advent...

To commemorate, Chris (who was visiting from Vermont) and I went to Reno. Because if we don’t lose at nickel slots, ogle cocktail waitresses, and pig out at buffets, the terrorists win.

Not too much to report. Saw a place called Nu Yalk Pizza. We also saw a sign for a “Speakeasy Casino,” although as we got closer we could see that the Casino part was less illuminated. It seems to be a decommissioned casino bought by Ramada. When we went inside, there was nothing casino-like, just some pool tables, and someone immediately told us “No casino.” Only a couple of minutes after we left did I realize that that was just what they *wanted* us to think, and that if I’d known the right password, the pool tables would have rotated into the floor and the real secret casino revealed. If that isn’t true, it should be. And the password should be “swordfish” (from the Marx Brothers movie Horsefeathers).

We saw the most pathetic-looking liquor store slash wedding chapel, although we did not go inside. I thought about asking if they did gay weddings.

Of course Chris is already married. As we passed a pawn shop and were looking at the stuff in the windows, I suggested that he buy a really cheap ring, say under $10, replace his wedding ring with it when he went home, and, first, see how long it took for Suzanne to notice, and then tell her that he’d had to hock it in Reno ‘cause the slot machine was about to pay off big, he knew it, and that the new ring was nice and cheap because the previous owner was a jumper. Chris thought not. Wimp.

It’s been maybe 9 years since I’ve set foot in Nevada, and the technology has upgraded, but not in a good way. For a start, a lot of them have themes. Instead of matching up bars or 7's or fruit, there are cartoon sheep and fish and The Munsters, and I was shocked, shocked to see a slot machine with a Casablanca theme. At the nickel machines this is one thing, but you really have to wonder about the people betting a dollar at a time at slot machines with a Mummy or I Dream of Jeannie theme. While there were always machines that imitated poker, now there are ones that replicate Monopoly or, believe it or not, Scrabble.

These new slot machines are all computers, with no moving parts to spin around, all virtual, and most of them don’t even have levers to pull to get them going, just buttons, to facilitate faster money loss. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but this is just wrong. I think you need to put the money in the slot yourself and pull on a lever. For a start, it’s aerobic, and you need that after the all-you-can-eat buffet. But really, it’s a question of work ethic. You need to pull the lever to feel you’ve actually earned the right to lose that nickel. I’m telling you, these gamblers today, they’re just plain lazy with their player’s cards and their fancy-schmantzy video screens, why in my day we had a sense of tradition, of accomplishment, I’m telling you...

I’m going to lie down now.

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