We hit Louisiana this afternoon on our way to Port Allen to pick up a load we’re taking out to Phoenix. The last time I was in this part of the world, I was just a little kid, so I don’t remember much about it. I was raised in South Georgia, so swamps and weird accents aren’t new to me. The casinos, and gambling in general, are another story.
I was raised in a very conservative Christian home — gambling, cigarettes, alcohol and loose women were absolutely not tolerated.
I got over the alcohol and cigarettes ban by the time I was fifteen, but gambling has always been something completely foreign to me. I’ve never stepped foot inside a casino, mostly because my Great Granny made me believe I’d go straight to hell if I did. When I was a kid, I imagined every door to a den of iniquity had a hole right behind it that led to a quick drop to Satan himself, and if you were wily enough to jump over the hole, a bunch of loose women would shove you into it anyway.
My Great Granny was a very convincing woman. She firmly believed if you couldn’t deter someone with words, a whippin’ with a switch would punctuate them enough to make you remember exactly what she said real quick-like.
We parked for the night at the Love’s right outside of Port Allen. I was amazed to see they had their very own casino. My husband suggested we unwind a little and have a drink while we gambled $20 each. I was really excited at the thought of finally seeing the inside of a casino. I figured my Great Granny had been dead for close to 40 years, she couldn’t switch me, and my husband is a big enough guy to keep the loose women from knocking us down into the pit of Satan, so why not?
I was ready for what you see in the movies — card tables, men in tuxedos with women in ball gowns and furs draped over their shoulders. Needless to say, this was not the case.
First of all, there wasn’t a hole behind the door, and the only woman in the place was locked inside a cashier booth. She didn’t appear loose or interested in sending us to hell at all. As a matter of fact, she looked completely bored and dejected.
“Where’s the casino?”
“This is it.”
“There aren’t any card tables or women in gowns anywhere. What the hell? There’s a bunch of video games. Where do we bet money?”
“It’s all done on the machines, babe. You put the money in and bet on the video games.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“No, I’m not. Just watch.”
He put $10 in one of the machines and a bunch of gobbledy-gook came up on the screen. He slapped at a little button five or six times, and a ticket shot out the side of the machine.
“Hey look! I won five bucks. Now you try it.”
“Hell no I’m not trying it. I don’t understand anything you just did but slap a button. I can slap buttons for free. It just cost you five bucks for three slaps on a button. How is that fun or exciting in any way?”
“Just put some money in one and try it, you’ll get the hang of it.”
I put $10 in a machine and chose a poker game, because I have a vague understanding of poker from watching it on TV. Cards flashed on the screen and it prompted me to hit the button again. This sequence repeated itself three or four times and it was all over. For ten damn dollars.
“To hell with this. How do people get addicted to it? It’s like getting addicted to voting. You go in a dark room and press a few buttons and it’s over. Nothing changes but the fact that you have less money in your pocket. It’s exactly like voting.”
“Oh come on, let’s try a different game.”
“You put one more dime in that machine and I’m gonna be pissed. Take that ten dollars and wipe your butt with it, you’ll get more from it.”
“So I take it your gambling career is over?”
“This is the dumbest crap I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s no sport to it. It’s like hunting on a game reserve. D – U – M – B.”
“Well how do you feel about having a drink?”
“Now that sounds sporting.”