I have been a bit down-in-the-dumps recently for some very good reasons. On Monday, the office was closed for President’s Day and Mrs. Wife forwarded the excellent suggestion that I blow off some steam by jumping in the car and driving down to Atlantic City for the day. I haven’t been there since my birthday last July and I love shooting craps. And she knows it. What a gal. What a pal.
All interior shots were surreptitiously taken with a cell phone. Casinos frown on this sort of thing. You will be ejected if caught taking pictures.
Lord, almighty, I love shooting craps. It makes me feel smart and cool (though it’s not). I love a casino’s ambiance. (Ambiance: such a pretty word for such a trashy place.) Just look at this hideous architecture. It’s awfulness on a spectacular, grand scale. Yet, I feel so at home here.
And how about this elegant ceiling? I feel it has just the right amount of lights, mirrors and gold. It screams Donald Trump.
For decades, casinos have been successfully marketed as palaces of glamor and mystery, filled with young attractive people who will gladly sleep with you, if only you would ask. The reality is counterintuitive to what they’re selling, particularly if you visit on a Monday afternoon instead of a Friday or Saturday night.
On a Monday, most of the patrons are of the down-on-their-luck-playing-with-the-mortgage-payment variety. It’s like watching a horrible traffic accident that you can neither take your eyes off of nor prevent. When I’m feeling blue about my career or my finances or station in life, all I need to do is visit a casino and take a look around. I soon come to realize that I’m doing just FINE.
The best thing about gambling is the esprit de corps that arises between you and your fellow degenerates, particularly at a crap table. You either succeed together or fail together. We’re all friends. Of course, you don’t get to enjoy this singular sensation if you park your ass in front of a slot or video poker machine. Those things are just soulless, money-sucking robots.
Here is the latest abomination. It’s video roulette.
People sit in a circle in front of a video screen and place bets against an animated roulette wheel. Roulette is such a quiet, elegant game. I like the accouterments. The wheel. The sound the little white ball makes when it drops. The feel of the chips. Roulette is not as dull as blackjack nor as nerve wracking as craps. And as you sit at a roulette table and place your bets, you get to know the croupier and your fellow players. Cockamamie strategies are discussed. Drinks are drunk. Why would you deny yourself this pleasure in favor of a video screen?
Do you know what feels really bad? Losing money by gambling. When it happens, you feel like a fucking fool. But do you know what’s as good as a shot of pure adrenaline? Bellying up to a crap table just as a hot roll of the dice commences. I’ve participated in rolls that lasted over an hour. When it happens, you grab a shovel, back up a dump truck and start filling it up with chips.