Ben Hits a Vegas Slot Machine

My friend Ben has always been a relaxed casino player, the kind of guy that plays on holidays, cruising calmly from game to game. Sometimes he won, sometime he lost, but he never took either case too seriously. There was only one thing Ben would never do in a casino – he would never play slots.

Ben was deeply prejudiced against all slot games. The shinier they were, the more he suspected them and kept them out of his rout. I’ve always used to wonder about that – a lot of people don’t play slots, but he was the only one I knew to give them looks of loathing and grudge, the kind of looks you see in westerns.

But one night I saw my friend jumping up from in front of a machine that was screaming its heart out after being robbed out of its jackpot. That was weird…the man breaks a vow of over 20 years, and hits the jackpot on the same day?!

When I asked him late one night, over a couple of emptied tumblers, why he dislikes slot machines so much, he told me this heart-breaking-side-splitting story:

Ben always loved casino games – his dad used to talk with such enthusiasm about the good times he had on the trips he used to take to Vegas in the late 60’s. So as soon as he hit the legal age Ben packed up a small bag and a nice sum he saved from frying chips for the last 12 months to go to the near by Atlantic City. As he entered the very first casino he stumbled upon, his heart suddenly shrank within his chest. It wasn’t the biggest or loudest casino, as he later realized of course, but after all it was his first.

The thundering sounds and the bright colors made him feel greener than the tables felt. His body turned slow and awkward, and his arms and legs seemed to double in length, making him too clumsy to squeeze his way into a table. His hands were too sweaty to hold a card, and he just knew his voice would choke if he would dare to speak to the beautiful and somber looking dealer.

It wasn’t exactly a panic attack, but sort of its first cousin. Everything he read, heard and memorized about the games turned into a green and red colored fog, and he could barely say his own name. The trouble was that some stubborn part of his heart just wouldn’t accept defeat. If he only stepped out for ten minutes to cool down and regroup he could have recovered his mental capacity and have a few good games. But no, he simply could not walk out of there without playing one single round. In this hour of need, the slot machine was his comfort, his friend and his savor.

Trying to stay away for the turmoil of happy winners, out of all of the machines in the house he picked a little wallflower, stuck in a hidden corner where he could catch his breath in private. It wasn’t the Liberty Bell, but it looked a bit older than its cheering sisters in the center of the floor. The poor creature seemed to be cringing whenever he pulled the handle (a bit roughly, admittedly, overcompensating for nerves and inexperience) and to be releasing a sigh as the handle sprang back, as if it had arthritis.

Ben kept feeding that ungrateful beast with all of his hard-earned money. Once he rounded up the guts to start playing, he was too petrified to get up and leave. He did win every once in a while and that kept his hope alive. It took him countless rounds and a huge chunk of his bankroll, before he felt sure to get up without his legs turning to butter. He made his way out as fast as he could, staring at the rug the whole time.

After an hour or so, as he played back this embarrassing experience in his mind, he suddenly felt what can only be described as getting hit by a heavy slap followed by a juicy spit in the face – after everything he went through to play, the idiot forgot to push the cash out button!

Shame was pounding through his bloodstream, and he vowed on that day, right there in Atlantic City, never to play slots again.

So years later what made him break his vow?

It was a sunny day in Vegas as it usually is in our desert vacations, when our Ben stepped into a fancy casino that shall remain nameless. No one could guess what’s about to happen. That day, Ben was touched by fortune. Wherever he turned the chips were pouring – stacks and stacks were forming a beautiful rainbow under his nose. He was ecstatic, he couldn’t believe it was happening. And then he saw her.

That was one of the most beautiful slot machines in town: tall, curved, golden and sparkling. That proud siren was signing to him with tender and alluring sounds. Tonight Ben would topple over the radiant tyrant and reclaim his honor in the name of the humiliated youngster all those years ago. He was a man on a mission, and the mission is revenge. It was his showdown time!

The jackpot ticker was blinking in one rate with his heart beats as his eyes were rolling up, down, and sideways with the symbols. He relentlessly kept hitting the buttons – no, not hitting, stroking, in a firm and gentle hand – until it gave in to him. The machine’s sirens and lights turned climactic and the coins popped out like a jetstream of champagne. The scared boy was gone forever, and the shame was compensated for with a lot of interest.

After that crazy night the bad memories were left far behind and Ben made his peace with the machine. He took us all to a great dinner, and he still likes telling this story to anyone who would listen. I asked him afterwards what’s the moral of the story. He said a good story and moral are like drinking and hangovers, you just simply have to know when to stop. Read about What To Drink At the Casino to have the most fun.


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