a few months ago, some friends and i decided to take a trip to atlantic city to get out of the city and celebrate a friend’s birthday with a little frivolous mirth. while i enjoy atlantic city’s airport because they have a small security line and cheap flights, i dont particularly like the city itself. walking around you get the sense that it was probably the bee’s knees in the 80s as all the casinos starting springing up. but then it got lazy and rested on its laurels of having a monopoly on the east coast gambling market. ironically enough, the properties you buy in the board game monopoly (with a big m) are based on the streets of atlantic city. so there, you learned something today. youre welcome.
these days, however, states are really strapped for cash and much more flexible with their morals then the were several decades ago. put everything in a pot and voilà these gambling crack houses are popping up everywhere, each with their own crack-like video game penny slot machines ready to take your debit card and your rent check. so atlantic city (big a, big c) sat back for three decades and collected all the money from people too poor or too lazy to cross the mississippi river (capital m, capital r) and go to vegas (big v). now the city is suffering and people can waste money anywhere they choose.
and since we were there for a saturday night reveling for friend’s birth, it’s safe to say we did some gambling as well. myself, i managed to find a seat at the poor man’s blackjack table, my gambling game of choice. did alright for a while, managed to get up forty or fifty bucks, then split aces with the dealer showing a low card. i cant remember if i doubled down or not, but i was sitting at eighteen and nineteen, respectively. obviously, the dealer draws a twenty and boom goes the dynamite. i ended up losing everything in a matter of minutes.
i dont particularly like gambling because its often synonymous with losing. not just losing, but losing with particular respect to money. not having much money to begin with, i try not to lose what little is around. when i do gamble however, i play blackjack. mainly because i feel it requires the right amount of interaction from me and it’s simple enough to understand. craps looks like fun, but it’s confusing. with blackjack youre not just sitting around waiting to see if you won or lost, so you feel like youre influencing the outcome and whoever ‘they’ are ‘theyve’ convinced us, or pathetically at least me, that we are smart enough to win. brilliant on their part, unfortunate on mine. having said all that, on the handful of occasions that i have gambled in casinos, i have won a pretty good amount of money each time. so naturally the numbers were bound to catch up to me, as they did that saturday night in ac (capital a, capital c).
then there is roulette. ive known quite a few people who have won a lot of money playing roulette. of course, they lost it all shortly after by vehemently sticking with wesley snipes’ advice. heres to hoping they dont follow his tax advice as well. still, i think roulette is a fun enough game. i enjoy the spinning of the wheel, the bouncing of the ball and the simple color system. at its base, its all very primal. red and black. bad and good. and on that very primal level human beings are essentially predatory hunters and have eyes are drawn to motion, so even the movement of the wheel and the ball are are naturally attractive to us.
but heres my problem with roulette: it’s too much like religion when you think about it. in light of the recent doomsday crazies, who still manage to spring up every few years, it’s pretty easy to see. all those people were convinced that they were going to heaven a month ago and i would be sitting in the pits of a volcano right now. they put all their chips on 34 red. the wheel stopped spinning and the ball was on any one of the other 37 numbers. sorry you lose. it’s obviously not a perfect analogy, but you can see the point im making.
fundamentally, religion is and should be good. used as a vehicle to instill faith and love while helping guide one through their day-to-day life, but in any number of cases it gets perverted with all these other concepts. the audacity to say there is a club of paradise that i get to enter because im right and everyone else has to go to hell because youre wrong is insane. the fact of the matter is, no one will ever know ‘the answer’, if there even is one. im not even sure i know what the question was. religion should be approached the way the experienced gamblers bet on roulette. they spread a little bit of their bet out over a variety of customized categories: evens, numbers 13-24, all red, etc… pick and choose the concepts that are most relevant to your life and allow you to live the best life you can. im well aware of my level of uncertainty, so the best i can do is lay my bets on the concepts that i value and get me through my day like friendship, laughter, balance and fart jokes. lots of fart jokes.