Monday, January 4, 2010
Trish and Dee and I spent a few days in Vegas last month, and I, without planning to or thinking about it, channeled Go-Go at the Black Jack tables. If a player was doing stupid things like staying on fourteen when the dealer had a face card showing, I would start to mumble insults under my breath, just loud enough for the dealer and my pal to hear me.
Go-Go hated unskilled card players, she hated them. And the drunker she was, the more likely she was to let them know it. To her credit, she was usually playing two hands - often for A LOT of money per hand, and when a player stays on fourteen or fifteen, it screws up the whole table. She would not hesitate to tell them, "you have to hit that", if you don't the dealer stands a better chance of not breaking". I don't know the odds exactly, but I do know that it takes time to grow the courage to hit fourteen or fifteen, or even sixteen, knowing that much of the time you are going to lose your money - there are just more high cards in a deck. But if you don't hit, you lose, too. And Go-Go was not afraid to say "why don't you just stay home and mail your money to the casino" if she felt like a person was not being a smart player.
So we went to Vegas to celebrate my friend Dee's graduation from nursing school and both Dee and I had gambled with Go-Go when she was alive so she knew when we were playing that I was channeling Go-Go. I even had the raspy cigarette voice to accompany my rants, because I am completely allergic to smoke and my voice turned gravely the first day. Plus, the more tired I became, the less likely I was able to control myself. It was a lot of fun to bring out Go-Go and talk crap about the lousy players, and embarrass my pal a little while I was at it.
When you were gambling with Go-Go and she wanted you to stay up and play with her, she would toss you a hundred bucks to finance your playing. She taught me how to play black jack and she did it long before I had any business knowing how. We went to the Bahama's when I was sixteen and she dressed me up and off we would go to the casino, knowing I could easily pass for eighteen, or twenty-one. If she was winning, she thought nothing of tossing me a black chip or two, or three. If she was down, she would "borrow" money until there wasn't any left, but those weren't the stories I focused on last month. I felt like the trip softened me toward her.
I was not happy about Go-Go's gambling habits when she was alive. Because of it, she died completely broke, leaving behind oppressive debt. But for those few days in Vegas last month, I got to remember how much she LOVED Vegas, and how sassy and fun she was to play cards with. And, I got to remember the good times I had gambling with her.