'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DESPAIR
My wife and I recently made our first—and probably last—visit to one of the gambling casinos in southeastern Connecticut. Despite all the hype about the casinos and all the media advertising since they opened up, and despite various friends and relatives who exclaimed to us how fabulous the casinos are, we had never been there before.
The main reason we had never visited the casinos is because they are almost two hours away from our home. Oh yes, and another possible reason is because we are fairly certain that all gambling casinos are run by Satan.
It’s not that my wife and I are judgmental Bible thumpers who don’t want people to have any fun; we are instead judgmental Bible thumpers who DO want people to have fun, as long as they do it in places NOT under the management of, for example, the Diablo Entertainment Group.
Well, I exaggerate. We don’t necessarily believe casinos are satanic dens of iniquity, although the whole concept of a gambling casino is based on four of the Seven Deadly Sins: greed, envy, sloth, and flunking math class.
We had an enjoyable dinner at one of the many fine restaurants at the casino. And we were very grateful that a mouse waited until we had finished our meal before scurrying along the floor next to our table. I’m not kidding—there really was a mouse in the restaurant. Our waitress said, “I can’t believe you saw a mouse! They usually wait until the restaurant closes before coming out.” Ah, comforting words. Glad we didn’t order the “fried surprise” appetizers.
My wife and I spent about an hour walking around the “gaming floors.” One of the interesting things about gambling casinos and the gambling industry is that they never, ever actually use the word “gambling.” It is always “gaming,” as in, let’s play a game! This is just clean wholesome fun! It’s like recess at the playground! A fun, happy place to play some enjoyable games!
Another interesting thing about the fun, happy place to play some enjoyable games—besides the ever-present cloud of cigarette smoke—is that we did not see a single soul who looked as if he or she was having any fun or happiness while playing those enjoyable games. All we saw were countless folks perched in front of slot machines or at the “gaming” tables, and all the faces contained scowls, furrowed brows, intense stares, and an overall sense of desperation.
As we walked, my wife said, “Let me know if you see anyone smiling.” A few minutes later I saw a young man leap up from his chair at a poker table. He raised his fists in triumph and then high-fived a couple of nearby friends. Obviously he had just won a bunch of money and he most definitely had a big smile on his face. But about twenty minutes later, we came back past the same poker table and the same young man was slumped in his chair staring forlornly at his cards. I’m not a mind reader, but his anguished expression indicated that he possibly was thinking the following: “Should I bet my last chip? Should I fold? Or should I throw myself in front of a freight train?”
Again, I’m not a mind reader, but I couldn’t help think that possibly the young man’s rent money or his children’s food money had just evaporated at that happy, enjoyable “gaming” table.
When I started writing this, I expected to relate some humorous anecdotes about the glamorous casino. But as I think about it, other than the mouse, there simply was nothing funny.
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