It’s just a little bit humid. The sun is setting, the cars are accelerating, and the night is just beginning. The conversation gets heavy, reminding all of us of the drama of yesterdays that feel so far away. Finally, we arrive at our destination and the guards ask to see our IDs to verify we’re old enough to be here. The guy who takes mine rips it out of my hand, holds it up to the light and says “Oh boy, yeah. We’ve got a fake.” I roll my eyes and let out a soft laugh, trying not to insult him, because clearly he thinks he is pretty funny—only it was the kind of funny that your uncle tries to be around the holidays, when everyone throws out pity laughs and stiff smiles.
We’re greeted by heavy smoke and a mixture of dinging and bells. The sound of people winning money and losing time—or for some losing money and winning entertainment—crowds the casino. We wander around, looking for a place to eat and contemplating whether or not we are actually old enough to be in here. The results are in, and our IDs actually say we are allowed to participate in these festivities, but when did we get this old?
After wasting some time with a hodgepodge of chow, we exchange our dollars for the sliver of hope that it will transform into more instead of watching it disappear. As the lines roll by, our hearts beat faster, our palms become sweaty, and the “cash out” button starts to look bigger and bigger. Do we cut our losses or do we risk burying ourselves further? It’s a constant struggle between greed and rationalization.
When we finally find a $1 blackjack table, the guy next to us starts to shell out advice and we graciously accept it, showcasing our ignorance to the game. The man later reveals he plays every Sunday night. He calls it “therapy.” So one of the guys across the table says, “Just make sure you don’t need therapy for your therapy,” and the regular gambler lets out a hardy laugh.
But I learn an important lesson from playing blackjack: I shouldn’t play blackjack. Luckily, I only forfeit four dollars as I walk away with a single chip. As we head for the door, I stop to cash-in my one dollar. “It’s not much, but it’s all I got,” I say. The lady behind the glass chuckles, and says “Do you need an escort?” I raise an eyebrow, and my friend explains that people with a lot of money might need someone so their money doesn’t get stolen on the way out. I smile and shake my head at my sad excuse of a dollar. Sticking it back in my purse, I find another ticket worth two dollars and rejoice in the fact that I’m leaving only seven dollars in the hole.
And with the bass rattling the car, the music turned up so loud that my eardrums feel like they might burst at any moment, and four voices screaming our favorite song lyrics at the top of lungs, we are welcomed to the new age.
Here’s to being an adult.