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amw
Life here has been going pretty well. Work is okay. Home is great. I haven't been going out much, though.

Last week i was all geared up for a Saturday gig but i was so hungover from work drinks Friday i just felt too shitty to do anything. I really do hate binge drinking. I hate that after 10+ years i'm still stupid enough to do it. You just waste the night talking about nothing and then the next day you feel like shit. And every time i say fuck that, never doing that again. And every time i do it again. And i guess i could blame it on society because you kinda get sucked into it because it's what everyone else does... but really it's just me just going "hey i'm miserable in this pub/bar/house where the music sucks and i want to go home but i ought to be with my friends and stick around therefore i will drink enough to not care". I don't want to be that killjoy who goes screw you guys, i'm going home. Even though home has DVDs and divxs and good fucking music and cheaper or better alcohol and nice food. Eh. I like being sociable, i just don't like spending shitloads on alcohol only to feel like crap the next day and barely do anything interesting on the night regardless.

So, in true amw form, this weekend i did the same thing. Except this weekend i actually did do something interesting on the night so it was worth it. One of J's friends from Sydney was in town on our couch (yes, i'm learning to have people over without freaking) and we decided to do the casino. Now a casino is something i have long wanted to visit, but i've always refused invitations because i didn't want my illusion of Sharon Stones in fur or suited-up Roger Moores with martinis to get shattered. It's the same reason i keep avoiding going to a strip club - i don't want the white trash reality everyone tells me it is, i want the fantasy movie version where this shit is classy. But i'm at that point now, right, where i go try things. So i did. We hit the fucking casino. First time in my life.

I've never really gotten gambling. Like i totally understand the concept - that it's exciting or fun - but i don't get the whole betting-your-money-on-something-designed-to-make-you-lose thing. It's one of those covert Australian activities - much like binge drinking - that the country doesn't like to advertise round the world but is very much a core part of the culture. For some reason this country gambles more per head than any other in the world. Something like a quarter of all the slot machines in the whole world are here, mostly in pubs. So i've seen them everywhere for 10 years. Never had the desire to play one. One night, on a binge drinking session, one of my friends said, oh man, you gotta try this, it's so much fun. I was drunk enough i relented and put some money in the machine, hit about 3 buttons, then my money was gone. Fun. But i figured fuck, casinos, right, they'd be totally different! Even though the odds are against you, at least it's social, at least it's not just you and a button on a machine, right?

Well kinda. So we walked in, and yeah, no Sharon Stone. No apparent dress code. And about a million fucking slot machines. Exactly the same slot machines you can find in any pub in Australia. I wasn't really impressed. Then i stood watching this guy play blackjack by himself (there was just him and the dealer). The game was going a hundred miles an hour so he was losing $50 every 15 seconds or so. Fucking depressing. We sat down at a roulette table and i placed my first eva casino bet. $5 on a 4 number square. And i won - like $50! So i took all those chips, gave some to J, some to her friend D, and we kept on betting. And we lost. And then we lost some more. And then i stopped with $10 worth of chips. No doubt it was fun for ten minutes, but if i'd spent $40 of my own money for that ten minutes of fun i'd feel gypped. I was really over my casino experience at this point. The only game i was interested in was poker, and only because there you can actually win from other players in spite of the dealer getting a cut from each hand. But the other two didn't seem especially keen, so on we went, looking for other games.

Finally we hit the craps table. Yes, there's only one in the whole frickin casino. J got $20 worth of chips and put $5 down. None of us had ever played before, but we had a guy explain as we went. A half hour later i had $25 worth of chips in my pocket (the same amount J and i had spent in the first place) and we had another $20 or so on the table. Three more hours later J walked out with $175. And it was fucking fun. Yes, i drank way too much and felt kinda shitty Sunday. Yes we were betting on completely random results, and the odds are stacked such that you're still going to come out under even if you bet equally on every possible outcome, but we got to roll dice, we got to chat to a bunch of people, we got to jump around and cheer and be silly drunks... And because J walked out ahead and D and i broke even it was basically like spending the night at any bar, except this time instead of sitting around the same old same old i got to do something i never have before, and that was cool. I doubt i'll be going back any time soon, but it was fun, and i did get to see why people dig it. I still don't understand the people who were betting higher and higher each roll and often losing hundreds at a time, but we had a lot of fun just betting $5 at a time and keeping the game going. I gotta say i kinda like stupid nights of drinking where i get to do something new.

So perhaps my new plan of action should be in case of going out drinking with friends, make it a novel experience - that way i can be sociable and drink and if i do go too far at least i won't feel like i wasted the night at some shitty pub because i did something new. And at the same time i gotta put my fun ahead of my buddies sometimes and go do what i want to do, even if it means skipping a night on the piss. Fortunately the people i hang out with these days are pretty cool with that and don't make you feel like the odd one out if you don't get trashed with them all the time.

You know life is pretty easy when the big issues you're wrestling with are what you're going to do on the weekends. Heh. In truth there are a few big things looming - my family in Holland wanting me to visit and having to say no, my new responsibility at work starting in July, where J and i are going to live in 10 months time (i.e. dealing with immigration and probably an international move)... but for right now i'm just digging where i'm at. Well aside from the whole blocked nose/sore throat thing. PS i'm sick. But life is good.

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Did you smell the desperation in the air as soon as you hit the casino? I can't stand the place for that simple reason. For the most part, it's such a sad atmosphere – watching people who mostly can't afford it lose their savings or bet their pay cheques. Of course, there are people like you guys just having fun, but in general I find it so depressing.

I sure did. So many people there just didn't seem to be having FUN, it almost looked like they were working - and hating every minute of it. The way i see it, i'm happy to spend $20 on two hours of fun - think popcorn and a movie - or even $50 for dinner and nice wine... Spending $25 plus drinks for several hours of fun seemed like a good deal to me - same as a nightclub. Walking out with a profit was just a nice bonus for us. But seeing the guys blow $25 or more per bet, and clearly hurting every time they lost? Oy.

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