Thursday, March 13, 2014


My mom's side of the family loves casinos. When my great-grandmother was alive, you could mention the word casino and literally watch three generations of women turn to face you, their heightened interest showing in their eyes with a look that said, "Go on..."

I strongly dislike casinos. The noises bother me and as a people-watcher, it's pretty much the saddest kind of place to observe humanity. But collectively, my mom and grandma ask for almost nothing, so the very least I can do is listen when they talk about slot machines.

Is it possible to overstate how little I care about slot machines?
Not really.
I truly do not care about slot machines.
I don't think there's a technique to using them, or a strategy for winning, or that a "good one" is something that exists within the universe. My mom and grandma talk about some slot machines like they're people I should know. 
"Have you ever seen the Hoot Loot machine? That's a good one. A really good one. It's funny and kind of cute. You'd like it. Green Machine's a good one too. You'd like it."

And then I feel myself getting sucked into this slowed down version of life where I'm not allowed to roll my eyes, but where the only thing I want to do is roll my eyes. 

If you know someone who likes slots, you've probably heard them tell you how to play. Look, we all get it. Put some money in, press a button, lose the money. It's like paying to take an elevator. Or not even because you don't actually get anywhere. It's like paying to ring a doorbell. Anyway, the point is, I understand how they work. But my grandma and my mom both think I don't, and explain in painfully specific detail the combinations I should be trying to get despite the fact that I will never ever be playing these games. 

I once wrote a stand-up act about a conversation I had with my grandma concerning a Chinese food slot machine. I've only performed it for my mom but it killed. The real-life conversation was 20 minutes. A TWENTY MINUTE lecture about the best combinations to get on the Chinese food slot machine. It was my grandmother's TED Talk. Yelling out menu items, how to bet the max, 5 rows, diagonal on the bonus, absolutely none of it making sense to me. "You just press the button, right?"

"If you get 2 moo shu porks with an egg roll and a chopstick, that's good if you have a star. But if you you have THREE moo shu porks, you want two egg rolls. Or noodles are always good. With or without a star, get noodles on the max bet with chopsticks and chicken..." 

20 minutes this went on. 
You learn after five minutes that there is no possible way to respond.

Anyway, Nessa and I were recently listening to my mom talk about casinos, and I sat in the slowed down version of my life as she discussed various prize nights. 

Mom: Monday night is Ladies Night and Men's Night.
Ness: Both?
Mom: Yes.
Ness: So it's just night. Monday nights are just "Night."
Mom: Well, technically no. Because of the prizes.

I felt my head tilt a little, wondering if I should weigh in at all. Time stood completely still as I heard Vanessa laughing at my mother's explanation. 
Finally I asked, "Have you been to Ladies Night and Men's Night, mom?"
"Yeah," she replied. "It's a good one." 


JMversusJM said...

P.S. I feel like "Grandmothers Giving TED Talks" is BRILLIANT and someone should get on that ASAP.

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