"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

April 2, 2008

The Glitzy Prison

I'm starting to think these 'free' show tickets I occasionally get from my mother's gambling addiction/casino comps aren't really free.

The only casinos in Minnesota are on Indian reservations, far away from the urban centers. I think I heard of one in downtown Duluth that was able to skirt the rules a bit but they're only allowed to offer blackjack. But, that's a 6-hour drive north of the Twin Cities and completely unimportant to this story. The real point is that the casino is in the middle of nowhere (Sorry, residents of Prior Lake, MN!) and it's difficult to get back home once you find yourself there.

I will now show you just why I hate going to the casino with my mother. Times are approximate because I keep forgetting that I need a new battery for my watch.

4:30 PM: My mother begins preparing for the journey. She knows exactly what she'll need and packs everything into a small tote bag unofficially known as her 'casino bag'. My father takes longer. 10 minutes longer. This results in her impatiently tapping her foot, switching through the cable channels, and sighing loudly every couple of minutes. I prepare by...throwing a book in her bag.

5:00 PM: We leave. Never mind that the show doesn't start for another 2 1/2 hours and it's only a half-hour drive. We must leave now! A short drive through the suburbs of Minneapolis follows. As you get close to Prior Lake, the landscape switches from suburban to a weird mix of old-time farms and these huge, sprawling housing developments that look almost like miniature towns plopped in the middle of a field.

5:30 PM: We arrive and check into the hotel. She tells me the story of why she won't get in the VIP line. Basically, she thinks the guy at the counter is an arrogant bastard and she'd rather wait a few extra minutes to check in. I don't know if he actually is but I agree that I'd do the same.

5:45 PM: After we dump our stuff in the hotel room, my mother runs away to...whatever slot machine she likes this week. Me and my father grab something to eat at the buffet. After we eat, I kill time (and $40) at the slot machines.

7:15 PM: An announcement from the loudspeaker warns that the show is about to start.

7:30 PM: We don't go to every show that my mother is offered, just the ones we think we'll like. Sometimes we're wrong. Roseanne's standup routine bored the crap out of me. My father wasn't crazy about Bill Cosby. I got dragged to a Neil Sedaka concert a long time ago. He's good. It's just not one of my favorite types of music (1960's pop) so I was itching to get out about halfway through. But, most of the time, it's fantastic. This one was for Etta James, a blues singer. She was fabulous. Her band was fabulous. I've already ordered two of her CDs and I have nothing but good things to say. I still suck at concert reviews though.

9:00 PM(?): The concert ends and I head back up to the room. I try reading for awhile but the constant drone of the TV my father is watching makes it difficult to concentrate. Eventually, I get bored and go downstairs for a cheeseburger.

11:00 PM: After being reminded of why I avoid the casino's fast food restaurant "The Gambler's Grille", I go back to the penny slot machines where I kill sixty more dollars.

11:45 PM: 'Oh, look. I won 25,000 credits. That can't be much on a penny machine...Hey! Wait! That's $250! Yay!' I cash out and run back to the room, greedily clutching my $250 and determined not to spend another dime on the evil slot machines.

Midnight: Well, now the TV is off so I should be able to read, right? Nah. Now the sound has been replaced by my father's snoring. His really LOUD snoring. I try to read anyway.

12:15 AM: My mother comes back to the room. My heart leaps in the hopes that we can go back home. 'Cause I've been in this place for nearly 8 hours and I'm bored.

12:20 AM: "Can I borrow $100?" 'Gah,' I think. It's not lending her the money that bothers me. She'll pay me back when she says she will. It's knowing that that $100 will prolong the trip by at least two more hours. I sigh and give her the money.

12:30 AM: I lock myself in the bathroom because at least it's quiet in there and I can actually concentrate on reading.

1:30 AM: I begin devising ways to get back home. I briefly consider hitch-hiking but then I remember I'm at the casino. Where hookers hang out. Now, I actually have nothing against prostitutes. It's none of my business and they're not hurting me so whatever. But, because of their presence, standing near a casino with my thumb out may end up in a Very Bad Situation™ I almost spend $50 on a taxi home but that just seems like a lot of money for two or three more hours.

4:00 AM: My mother comes back to the room and, nearly 12 hours later, I'm freed from my glitzy prison.

Next time, I'm taking the bingo bus back. Or a taxi.


Jillian said...

See, at least you knew when you to quit! I once won $400 on a slot machine then promptly lost it all. :-(

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Good luck in our Battle of the Blogs. i think the free casino $$ are just like all the online moneymaking schemes...if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives

Berryvox said...

Jillian - Actually, I went through a blackjack fad. I've done the same thing at the tables. :-/ I know basic strategy like the back of my hand now though!

Roxiticus - Gl to you too! I've stopped caring whether I win or lose on BotB but it's still fun.

Oh, definitely. The casino recouped their losses from the hotel room and tickets times two from my mother.

MamaFlo said...

I'm not one for the riverboat casinos but I love Nevada, Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas, oh yeah Las Vegas!!
I'm probably more like your Mom in that I go for the slot machines and not for any other entertainment (except people watching). At least I loved playing the slots when I was still a smoker......haven't been to Vegas since I quit and with it only being six months since my quit I'm kinda figuring it may be too soon.
I think it's nice that you and your family do things like this together.

Julia said...

Ack, trying again... blogger is being a pita!

Your mother sounds just like mine!

Home Hooked Creations said...

Sounds like the casinos around here. Except the one close to me really is in the middle of no where, no town around it or anything, just farmland. The one on the North Dakota border is even worse!

Loved your timeline. It was so funny!

Berryvox said...

Mamaflo - See, if it was Vegas or Atlantic City, it'd be okay. There's lots of other stuff to do in the surrounding city.

Julia - Heh, I feel like I'm ripping on her too much in this post.

Home hooked - Augh, I drove through ND once. I imagine it is! Prior Lake used to be like that but, once they legalized gambling, all those housing developments popped up.