Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: Not-Bubbly and Brew

As different as their personalities, Genius and The Pony received unique treatment from Even Steven during Casinopalooza 2.

The Pony has let his hair grow out. He had wanted to do that since the summer before his senior year of high school, but, what with all the pictures and milestones that year, I was not sure it was a good idea. The Pony's hair is wavy like Hick's (old hair when he had it), and reaches a length where it is uncontrollable and unkempt. Once his valedictorian speech was done, The Pony began cultivating his tresses in earnest. Thankfully, he was out of my sight and out from under my thumb during the messy stage. It now looks better than I expected. As long as he picks it out once, right after his shower in the morning, it falls into ringlets that reach almost to his shoulders now. His hair kind of looks like the album cover of Frampton Comes Alive, only not frizzy, with a tighter curl, and dark brown instead of blond.

The Pony won several hundred dollars on the first machine he sat down at, and then budgeted his money and played some dollar and two-dollar machines (against my advice, let the record show) and kept his gambling stake intact to take with him at the end. Because of his fairly good luck...Even Steven saw need to smite him in other areas.

At breakfast the first morning, The Pony and I, along with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, chose to order from the menu, rather than have the buffet. Sis had a biscuit and gravy, due to the fact that she'd eaten that buffet the previous morning, and had an upset stomach the rest of the day, and this was the one thing she hadn't eaten from the buffet. I had a bagel with Canadian bacon, egg, and cheese, with a side bowl of fruit. The Pony had waffles, and a side bowl of fruit that he gave to me. We had to wait a while to get our menu meals, but we ogled the loaded plates of Genius, Hick and Ex-Mayor, and sipped our drinks while we waited. Sis and I had water, and The Pony had a Sprite.

In the midst of our breakfast fellowship, the waiter came around and topped off our drinks. The Pony, seated at my left, looked out of sorts. "WHAT? What's the matter? Our food will be here in a minute."

"It's not that. He just filled up my Sprite with water."

Indeed. The waiter came back, and was informed of his fizz-less faux pas, and apologized and brought The Pony a new glass full of Sprite. You'd think The Pony could have thanked him, but, being The Pony, he saw no reason to be fake and take the heat off the poor working man. So I did it for him.

On the way down to the ground floor the first night, after taking our stuff to the room, the elevator opened at Floor 1. The Pony stepped out, and Hick chuckled at him and told him to get back on, that we were going to Ground, not Floor 1. The Pony was a bit embarrassed, but it was just me and Hick and a father with a young son on that elevator. Hick had hit Floor 1 by mistake anyway, so it was kind of his fault.

The next evening, as we were headed down, packed in with a few people from the floors above us, the elevator again stopped at Floor 1. Hick was standing right beside The Pony, and this time, HE thought that's where we were getting off. He put his hand on The Pony's back, and pushed him forward. The Pony resisted. It was kind of comical from behind, where I was observing. The Pony kept his feet rooted in one spot, and swayed forward with Hick's push. I felt bad for him. "That's okay. Dad's just trying to get rid of you. He thought he could fool you into getting off on 1 again." As if that would make The Pony feel better...

Genius did not win as much money as The Pony, but he still took home over half of his gambling stake. He gambled longer, but put his money into the penny machines, relying on their volatility and bonus rounds. I had given each boy $20 walking-around money (because I'm a high roller, you know, and I could spare it) in case they wanted to grab a snack while we were all separated.

The Pony spent part of his twenty on a hamburger and fries at the snack bar. That's because he didn't get his player's card that came with the $10 food voucher until AFTER he ate. Genius spent his twenty on alcoholic beverages at the bar. But he got bargains! They had $2 drinks! Which he said is as good as the bad drinks you get for that price at the worst dive bar in College Town.

Genius also saw one of his professors in the lobby of Downstream Casino. He'd had a class where they discussed marketing, and Vegas, and, in fact, Downstream Casino. He went over to say hello, and ran into him a couple more times and chatted.

Genius has a haircut that is most likely called a high fade, and a full beard as well, which I think is the look of most hipster millennial doofuses gentlemen these days. Except Genius doesn't have a long or bushy beard. Just a full one. I wouldn't say you'll see him in the pages of GQ, but he's no troll, and he's a snazzy dresser.

As we were getting ready to leave River Bend Casino, I was slow in catching up to Hick and Genius, who were cashing out their tickets at a machine. As I walked by a row of slots, I saw a man and a young girl (not a child slot-player!) of around college age sitting at machines on my right, along the aisle. The girl had leaned WAY back, and was looking in the direction I was heading. At Hick and Genius at the money-casher. I'm pretty sure she wasn't checking out Hick. I told Genius I thought he might have an admirer, but he just snorted. Because he's cool like that.

Let the record show that NOT ONE casino carded either of the boys as they entered. NOT ONE! Sure, the slot-gambling age in Oklahoma is 18. The Pony just turned 19 in February. And Genius is 22 now. But when Genius has gone to St. Louis casinos with me, you'd think they were going to call out the SWAT team if he didn't present ID. Especially at Ameristar. Their security is outrageous. It's kind of like walking through all those wacky slamming doors at the beginning of Get Smart, the TV show. Not so much physical barriers, but the litany of questions asked by the guy at the podium out front. I think it's probably easier to get through security at the airport for a transatlantic flight than get into Ameristar if you don't look 35 years old.

Anyhoo...I had a grand time at Casinopalooza 2. I think the boys tolerated it well, and at least gave the impression of having a good time. That's about all I can ask for at that age, right?


  1. I think you should organize a writers' retreat at the casino. Think of the people watching everyone could do...

    1. And that's just the front-deck personnel!

  2. I believe you were right to thank the waiter for replacing the Sprite....

    I am surprised that the casinos didn't card your sons, and boys that age giving the impression of having a good time is a very good thing.

    1. I don't see why The Pony felt the need to hold a grudge. It's not like HE was the one paying for it. Or like the waiter stopped and picked up his Sprite and DRANK IT, leaving him only the ice.

  3. I didn't know they encourage vices for the young in this state. We have a grandson with a bald head and full beard. He's 20, and has never been carded, because he looks 30. We can only guess what he's done in his short two year college experience.

    1. I imagine he's really popular with the under-21 students.

  4. My-oh-my, your casino experiences are really something. I couldn't help wondering what your former students think when they read of all this gambling by a previous mentor. Oh well, I don't think you can really make a killing on the penny slots anyway. Better not tell the boys (young men) about the odds on craps games in Nevada and Atlantic City.

    1. I doubt that any of my former students even know this blog exists. And I would hope that after devoting my entire life (or at least 28 years of it) to my career, that I've AT LAST earned the right to be a regular person. Sitting on that pedestal is not for the faint of heart.

      Genius is planning a trip to Vegas before the year is out. He went a couple years ago, with a professor, to present something he'd written at a conference on telemetry. He was 20 at the time, and said THIS time when he walks through a casino, he wants to be able to have a drink and play something.