How to be a winner in Vegas

“I’m about to throw your whole life out of whack,” my friend Johnny said during one of our recent phone calls.

For the younger reader(s) of this column, “phone calls” are how people used to communicate, holding phones against our heads and vibrating our vocal chords like cave people, back before texting came along and society realized it really just wanted to get to the point already.  Because I walk the dog every night and can’t text without walking into mailboxes, I am one of the few remaining people who will call his friends, and Johnny happens to be one of the few remaining people who will still answer his phone.  I don’t know if society as a whole has stopped answering its phones, or if it’s just people who see that it’s me calling.  Assuming that it’s everyone, though, on the nights when Johnny and I chat, we most likely own the only voices being carried over the cellular network, except for the ones yelling, “Representative!  Customer service!  Zero!  Human!  Representative!” at automated menus.

“Oh man, my whole life?  What is it?” I asked, bracing for the worst.

“I’m going to have my bachelor party in Vegas,” he said apologetically.  Johnny knows that Las Vegas is my cup of tea, if I really hated tea.

“Dude, we’re thirty-eight.  Aren’t we too old for Vegas?” I asked, hoping to escape on a demographic technicality.

“You’re never too old for Vegas,” Johnny replied.

I could tell that his mind was already made up.  We’ve been friends since first grade, so I know when there’s no point in arguing, and it wouldn’t have been my place to, anyway.  He was the one getting married this summer, so he deserved to be the one to drag all of his friends, even the ones with bald spots the size of Liberace’s piano, to probably the most horrible place on the planet that’s not having a crisis of some sort.

Of course, I don’t mean to be unfair to a whole city.  I’m sure there are plenty of wonderful things about Vegas, it’s just hard to see them when all of the most awful parts are screaming, “LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME!”

The next time Johnny and I talked, I confirmed that I’d spent the requisite number of spousal tokens to enable me to go.

“That’s great!  It’ll be good for you to live a little.  You’re going to gamble, right?  You know, slot machines pay back 83% of your money, on average,” Johnny said.

“What happens to the other 17%?” I asked.

“I’m not sure you’re approaching Vegas with the right attitude,” Johnny replied.

In fact, I’ve developed a foolproof method for being the most successful gambler in any group: Just stand there and watch your friends lose their money.  It always works.  According to posters hanging in school gymnasiums across the country, you miss 100% of the shots you never take.  In a casino, though, you win 50% of the hands you never play, and you break even every time.

When we finally made it to Vegas with six friends who’d known each other for over one hundred cumulative years, I quickly settled into my role, which was to be Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon movies: Stay close to the action, don’t be the main character, and every so often, say, “I’m too old for this #$%@.”

To make sure my wife knew that I was behaving in a way that compared favorably to my friends, I texted her to say, “If you were only going to marry one of us, you picked the right one.”  (I would have called her, but she doesn’t pick up.)

Otherwise, I won’t go into too much more detail.  From what I understand, what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay there, which is what most of my friends’ money did.

You can hit it big with Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.

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2 thoughts on “How to be a winner in Vegas

    • Actually, it was $1.25. The bartender keeps giving you free beer while you play video poker, though, even if you only press a button every thirty minutes. It’s the one loophole in Vegas! I kept expecting the screen saver to pop on. (And thanks for the good times, hombre. You’re welcome for the heavy censorship.)

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