I hope you're enjoying the tales of Casinopalooza! Because there is still a plethora of them left. Okay. Plenty more where those came from. Actually...three more. After this one. And then one concerning our visit with The Pony. Let's get right to today's story.
Val Thevictorian has a problem. Stop laughing. We all know she has 99 problems, and Hick is one. But for now, we'll narrow it down to Val's problem of resisting peer pressure. She's not very good at it. Take her early years of teaching, for example. In a town not Backroads, where she had two really, really good friends she hung out with every weekend.
It just so happens that both of Val's friends taught in the elementary section of the campus, while Val herself was in the high school end. That's okay. I accepted them as if they were real teachers, heh, heh! Every weekend, we would spend Friday night at one of each other's apartment or house, playing cards or getting into mischief, and Saturday night attending the the weekly teachers' party held at various locations. It was a heavenly place to work, with a rich social life, and I loved it. Too bad they fired my a$$ over my coaching record.
Anyhoo...these two friends were smokers. Smoking was not allowed on campus. It was a new rule that fall, and it almost killed my buddies. Anyhoo...whenever we got together, the air was thick with smoke. One reason we rarely met at my rented house. They were not good influences on Val, these two, back in the days when Val may or may not have imbibed fermented spirits on a regular basis. That part was not their fault.
Anyhoo...my cohorts Jim and Karen persuaded me one night, in the midst of a heated game of Indian Poker, to smoke a cigarette. Yeah. I'm not proud. But I'm a people-pleaser! I gave it a try. The fact that they laughed their drunken rumpuses off did nothing to dissuade me. I even bought a pack of menthol something-or-others and gave them a try over the next week, on my way to night class at Fort Leonard Wood, working on my Master's Degree. I failed miserably at smoking. It felt awkward. I got not the slightest buzz, nor any tingle of pleasure from that nicotine. I think I must be immune to it. I didn't see what all the fuss was about. After my pack was empty, I quit smoking. Cold turkey!
"But Val," you ask, "what does that have to do with Casinopalooza?"
I'll tell you what that has to do with Casinopalooza! I am still a people-pleaser, and my will is still weak! When The Ex-Mayor who married my sister (and went to my high school where, let's not forget, I was VALEDICTORIAN) told me I should try a certain slot machine that he'd had luck on...I listened. Yep. Walked right over to where he was motioning, and put a $20 bill in it. You can probably guess the result.
"Oh. Sorry, Val. It really paid off for me."
Since The Ex-Mayor was being so nice to me (while Sis was fending off that crazed slot-stealer who accused her of having two monkeys, and being married to Hick), I decided to be nice right back. I had sat down at one of those desktop kind of slots, which I normally don't like, to play a $1 Mr. Moneybags game. That thing went crazy with the red screens. In about ten minutes, I'd won over $400. I cashed that ticket out so as not to play it back. I figured the machine would go cool for a while, so I wandered around playing some quarter machines. The Ex-Mayor found me, and asked how I was doing.
"You won't believe it!" I showed him my winning ticket.
"Wow! That's great! What were you playing?" I should have recognized his line of questioning early-on.
"That dollar Mr. Moneybags over there. I got a bunch of red screens."
"That's great! Good for you."
We went our separate ways. I went to check on Sis and Hick. Then I started back to my Mr. Moneybags. There sat The Ex-Mayor, playing away. He saw me, and it was like that time Jerry was pretending to smother George with a pillow in the hospital bed, and Elaine walked in, and Jerry said fakely, "Elaine! What are YOU doing here?" The Ex-Mayor looked like a deer in the headlights. Like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. Like Hick discovered eating a Casey's donut.
"Oh, you're trying my machine?"
"Well...I thought I'd give it a try... LOOK! I'VE WON OVER TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!"
So much for my lucky machine.
The next day, we had all split up in a different casino. I think The Ex-Mayor was off playing his $14 birthday comps at the gaming tables. I was losing money, switching from one machine to another, trying to find a good one. I sat down at a dime machine. I never play dimes. But this one had the red-screen feature for bonuses. And it was a three-reel nine-line Lucky Ducky. Sis had brought me a Diet Pepsi/Lemonade so I didn't have to walk my sore knees to the soda fountain. I set it down and plopped my butt on the stool, and fed this machine a ten-dollar ticket. That dime machine gave me lots of bonus play, and I hit about 5 red-screen spins to accumulate $105. Wow! On DIMES! I cashed that out.
Here came The Ex-Mayor. "Hey, Val. How ya doin'?"
"This dime machine just paid me a hundred and five dollars!"
"Which one? This one?"
"Yeah. Try it."
Of course you know what happened. The Ex-Mayor won $109 on it.
"Val, see that Emerald Fire machine behind you? That's the one I was playing last night at The Stables. Remember?"
"Yeah. I lost twenty dollars on one. That's AFTER I lost a twenty on the Emerald Fire you told me was good at High Winds."
"Well...this is a really good game. Lots of bonuses. And this one here is only fifty cents."
Of course you know what happened. I sat down and played it, and lost $20. Then The Ex-Mayor said he'd give it a try. Sat down on the same machine I just got up from. I went back to my dimes, but it was played out. Not paying. I guess we wore out the luck on it.
"VAL! Look at that!" The Ex-Mayor was up $200 on that Emerald Fire machine. Figures.
Oh, that's not all. At Wyandotte, waiting for Sis to find us by the front door, The Ex-Mayor recommended a game for me. "That one there, Val! It has really good bonuses. I always win on it."
"EX-MAYOR! It's FIVE DOLLARS a spin!"
"Well, you'll get four spins for a twenty. It'll hit on one of those."
Of course you know what happened. It made another of Val's twenties disappear.
"Oh. Sorry. But this one here, this Quick Hits, it ALWAYS hits. See? I'm playing this one now. Try that one there."
Of course you know what happened. That machine did nothing for me except take ANTHER twenty and spit back nothing.
Back at High Winds on Saturday, The Ex-Mayor found me wandering around again. "Val! Look over here. I saw this machine that I've never played before. Look. It has that orange flame. I don't know what it does. What kind of bonus it is. It's only a nickel machine."
"You want ME to try it, don't you?"
"No...I'm thinking about it. I might play it. Just to see what it does."
"Okay. I'll try it for a minute. This one right here on the end. I don't understand how it pays. It has that square and says it locks in. I guess the flame? It locks in the flame? So it must be a bonus?"
"I don't know. It doesn't say."
"Okay. I'm putting in a twenty."
"Hey! That one is a penny machine!"
"Yeah. But I'm playing ninety cents a spin! I might as well play dollars and have a better chance of winning!"
"I'll try this nickel one."
There was an old man at the machine between us. HIS machine was winning. Ours was not. He explained a bit to The Ex-Mayor.
"Okay! I'm done! I'm cashing out ten dollars and going somewhere else."
"All right, Val. Sorry you didn't win."
You might think that was the end of me succumbing to The Ex-Mayor's suggestions of which games to play. But it was not! At our final destination, he roped me into playing a dollar video game with buffaloes on three reels. It stopped on three lines. So you had to pretty much bet at least three dollars to have the best chance of winning something and getting a red screen spin.
"See here, Val? I've got over six hundred dollars on mine! When I built it up a little bit with bonuses, I played max, and hit more bonuses! You sister, on this one next to me, has won over two hundred on her seven dollars of comp play. Try this one here!"
Of course you know what happened. Another of Val's twenties evaporated. So right there, on those specific games I remember, The Ex-Mayor peer-pressured me into losing $130. Not to mention my rightful winnings that he stole every time he took over the machine I thought I was done with.
Val really needs to learn how to say, "NOT-HEAVEN NO!"