Gospel music is fueling my series this week. I grew up hearing it almost every day. Nothing else in my life is a greater touchstone of memory. In addition to gospel music, the titles have a hidden theme, and they lead to a climax on Saturday (with a BIG HINT in the story today.) Cootchie Hooch and a special mystery surcee (that’s Southern for ‘gift’) to the first reader who guesses the hidden theme. The winner will be revealed on Sunday, if my bright readers don’t guess the theme before.
Gamblers believe in themselves. Somehow, they study the signals emanating from the table. They swoop in when they deem the time lucky, and they join the high rolling party. Belief convinces them they can read the bluffs and see the signs and assemble the right cards that will climax in an orgiastic scraping of chips from the table.
I’m not a gambler. Okay, I understand. LIFE is a roll of the dice. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. A drunken college student could mow me down at 8am on the street in front of my house. I could be hit by random debris from outer space whilst walking to Starbucks to meet MTM for my now-defunct salted caramel mocha. In the dead of night, I could sleepwalk to the toilet, step on a squirming lizard, and die of a heart attack.
Living life. That’s the biggest gamble of all.
I’ve only been gambling in an actual casino one time. My trip to casinos happened in Lake Tahoe one snowy December. Because, of course, I went there in December thinking I would find something to do besides 1. skiing or 2. gambling. I ended up gambling, but it wasn’t my fault.
It was my friend’s fault. One of my oldest friends is a scientist with the United States Government, which means he thinks he’s the smartest person I know. (He’s probably right.)
He insisted that a visit to Lake Tahoe in December would be spectacular. (Again, he was right.)
Gobs of snow fluttered from heaven and mounded in pillowy drifts. Fires lent a crackling warmth to mugs of hot cocoa. The lake had a sheen of frozen wonderland. I snuggled up in a blanket, kicked off my shoes and let my eyes have multiple orgasms at all the wintry gorgeousness in sight.
And that’s when he dragged me into the jaws of a depressing, dim casino. Scientific research, he claimed.
He didn’t want to play slots or poker. He was far more enamored of the spinning black-and-red of the roulette table. Standing off to one side, we would observe the table for a while. Casual and slick, he would slide in and play.
He won every time.
How are you DOING that? I demanded.
Science he responded. (Scientists know everything about everything.)
After several rounds of play, a monster of a man with an earpiece materialized in our path. Oblivious, my friend kept watching his table.
Um. Scary man at two o’clock I whispered. The scientist who was somehow computing probabilities in his head ignored me. I hit his arm. Scary man! Two o’clock and closing in!
After a second non-response, with Scary Man’s shadow looming into my aura, I made an executive decision.
Did I mention I’m not a gambler?