Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cha-Ching!






Do you know what twenty-five dollars in quarters gets you? Well if you are into gambling it would get you about five minutes on a slot machine. Only they don’t use quarters anymore do they. They use those cards that you stick in the machine and if and when you win they play a sound track of the plunk, plunk, plunk falling into the tray. What’s the point? I mean if you can’t scoop the quarters into the bucket and walk around sticking a quarter in this machine or that machine why go through the exercise. My mother was the slot machine queen. She was incredible. I can not tell you how many times I have sat down at a machine with her when she stuck a couple of dollars in and the next thing you know bells were sounding, lights were flashing and she had won anywhere from five hundred to five thousand dollars. She had the touch. She had the style and grace and she had a method, a theory, a contrivance. She had the Voodoo that you do when you do that Voodoo that you do.
Meme didn’t start gambling until the last decade of her life. I have mentioned before that she worked eighty plus hours a week as a nurse administrator of a large hospital. She kept an immaculate house and I think she slept thirty minutes a night. She was a go getter. She and her group of friends who had deemed themselves “The Old Broads” would carpool the 6 hours to the casinos and they would gamble for three days. They would sleep very little and play the slots, the video poker machines or black jack for 72 hours straight. They would then pack up their winnings or lament their losses and drive home to work another long week.

On one of my first gambling outings I went with the “Old Broads” armed with about $50 in quarters. I entered the smoke filled casino wide eyed and ready. My mother pulled me by the hand to a big machine with the words Double Double Diamonds Deluxe on the face.
I stood there looking around for one that looked ready to spit out a bucket or two of quarters. Then I heard a whoop and I turned to look. The bells were sounding, the lights were flashing and my mother had a smile bigger than Dallas on her face. “How much did you win” I screamed while jumping up in down clapping my hands? My mom all smiles screamed back above the noise “I don’t know!” We waited for the chink, chink, chink of the change to fall out of the machine but nothing came. We looked at each other and looked around at the people crowded around asking what she won but no change girl appeared. Finally a floor boss came over and told us it would be just a moment that the winnings were so much they would have to write her a check. Again we looked at each other and screamed, still not having a clue what she had just won. Then the floor boss told her she had just won three thousand dollars. He then took her information and went off to write her a check. The slot machine clerk re-set her machine and walked off. My mother stuck a twenty in the same machine and started to pull the handle. “Momma, I don’t think that machine is gonna payout again. I mean it just gave you three thousand dollars. Maybe we should play somewhere else.” Meme with her mad voodoo skills and her inner voice looked at me and said “Nope, it’s going to pay me again.” Just as she said that and about $5.00 into the play the lights started flashing and the bells started clanging. I stared at the machine in complete disbelieve. She had hit the exact same thing she hit the first time! It was another three thousand dollars. That was it I was done. It was time to take the money and go home but not Meme she was just getting started.

My mother again collected her winnings and deemed that machine done. We moved to another bank of machines called the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now on this game the machine goes haywire here and there and eventually may spin five or six times after the initial spin. It’s a little nerve wracking but hey it’s gambling it’s supposed to be. Next to my mother sat an older woman who looked to be in her late eighties. She was playing one quarter at a time and before she pulled the handle she would rub her hands over the screen and say some words. She would then pull her hand back snap her fingers and pull the handle. My mother watched for a moment and then asked the woman “Would you mind doing that to my machine?” The elderly woman smiled a toothless smile and performed her little ritual on my mother’s machine. Meme pulled the handle and the Chili Peppers danced around and around and then they lined up all in a row. Then they took off again and did this five times which meant she just won five times whatever the winnings were. The lights flashed, the bells clanged and the elderly woman was ecstatic. My mother fed a twenty into the woman’s machine and told her “You play this one.” The Voodoo woman grinned even bigger, her whole face became one big excited smile as she performed her ritual and did a little dance before she pulled the handle. Then the Chili Peppers whirled and twirled and then one by one they came to rest next to each other all lined up like Chili Pepper soldiers. Then they took off again to do the same three more times. The old woman screamed and danced around like a teenaged cheerleader. The floor boss was standing next to my mother when this happened and he laughed and asked my mother if she wanted to put both winnings in one check. My mother smiled at the floor boss and said “oh no! that is HER winnings” as she pointed to the voodoo queen. The voodoo woman stopped and looked at my mother and said “Oh no, honey I can’t take this. This is yours. It was your money it was won on.” Meme smiled and said “Yes, but it was you who got my machine to win and you are the one who pulled the handle.” The voodoo queen hugged my mother and with a tear in her eye thanked her. My mother told her to put that money away and not gamble it just keep playing the money in her bucket. The voodoo queen was glued to my mother. She did what Meme did. The two voodoo women using their mad voodoo skills on the slot machines played on. Meme would tell her “Okay it’s time to play now” and the Voodoo Queen would perform her ritual and pull the handle. She didn’t have any more big winnings but she didn’t lose either. Eventually it was time for her to go as her tour bus was leaving. She hugged Meme thanked her from the bottom of her heart and said “I can have heat now” then she was gone.

I went gambling with my mother every chance I got. I went not because I like to gamble in fact I hate it. I mean if I put money in a machine I want something back. Tadpole says if she puts money in a machine the very least it should spit out is chocolate or shoes and I agree. I went because my mother loved it. We would laugh and talk and act stupid. She would talk to everybody around her and socialize while drinking one cup of coffee after another. She would explain to those who would listen “Don’t play until the quarter of the hour. You see they pay out on the quarter hour.” People would look at her and smile and think to themselves “yeah right crazy woman.” What they didn’t do is watch and learn because she won on the quarter hour.
I digress back to the twenty-five dollars in quarters. I didn’t take it gambling. I did a mountain of laundry. I washed and dried and fluffed and folded twenty-five dollars worth of laundry. I would have rather gone gambling with my mother.

10 comments:

Katherine Aucoin said...

I'm with you Gladys, I would rather feed it to one of those slots than do a mountain of laundry. Great story!

Queen Goob said...

I was just recently introduced to the "art" of slot machines last year. Funny how people have little rituals and quirky things they do before each game, isn't it?

Oh.....I was one of them but I'm not telling what I did!

Beth said...

Okay, freshly cleaned laundry is satisfying but, geez, it pales in comparison to your mother's skill and results with her quarters!

(thanks for visiting my blog)

Renovation Therapy said...

LOVED this story. My Mom who couldn't balance a checkbook if her likfe depended on it can do calculus on a slot machine...

XoXo Meg! said...

What a great story sweetie. Believe it or not, in all the times I have been to Vegas, this last trip was the first time I EVER gambled. Of course, I got addicted to those purty little slot machines, and can't wait to go back!

VE said...

I try to continuously buy new clothes. It saves on the hassle and cost of laundry...

Gladys said...

You guys would not believe her mad slot skills. It was amazing. When we buried her the "Old Broads" all pitched in and sent her to the big casino in the sky with a bag full of quarters. Now her and my Uncle J.C. are playing cards and pulling slots in the big golden casino.

Giggle Pixie said...

What a great story! I've never been to a casino in my life, and I rarely ever win anything. Wish I could be more like your mom!

ShoppingKharma said...

What a lovely story!
Thank you so much for the sweet comment on my blog!) Yes, I do have to agree that Laughter really is the best medicine ever!
& Yes, I am always up for new ways to go (u kno what?) Gotta love those all natural remedies!)

morethananelectrician said...

What a fun story...I have never gambled in a casino, but have taken a $20 gift on an on-line sports gambling site into $500 and another $20 gift on an on-line poker site into $150. That is probably the limit of my gambling. It is much easier to play with other people's money.