Gambling addiction: still cheaper than therapy

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon out at the Rideau Carleton Slots losing two hundred dollars.

To those who don’t gamble, this might seem like a lot, but to those of us who consider ourselves high rollers, two hundred bucks is barely enough to make the trip worth while. I happily managed to lose it in about two hours, so I had fun; not like some people who go there and drop their money in the machines and it’s gone in sixty seconds.

I know how to gamble because I’ve been doing it for years. I love it, I absolutely do, like red wine with a nice pasta dinner or a great ribald comedy. Gambling gets your juices flowing, and there’s nothing like it for a high when you win something.

I used to have a mild gambling addiction back in the single mother days. Like all my great ideas, I started gambling because I thought I was drinking too much. That’s when the Press Club was open and you could get your drink on for an afternoon. I realized this was terrible behavior for a mom, so I went looking for something else and that’s when I discovered the slots.

I wasn’t breaking the bank back then. I was speech writing and so I  had a lot of disposable income and a lot of time to fill. A couple of afternoons a week, I’d get in the car and take the nice drive out to the  Slots where I would feed the machines like an excited kid doling out pellets to the goats at a petting zoo.

I found gambling was a great stress reliever, and I won a fair bit of coin, definitely more than I lost.

Okay, I hear you saying that’s impossible, but 10 years ago, slot playing could be lucrative if you knew what you were doing. It’s not like today with all the electronic machines that are designed to suck the money out of your pants before you sit down. You only played three quarters at a go, and you had to crank the machines a bit. Also, you actually had to feed in the quarters, not like today, with those dreadful tickets that help a fool depart with her money in record time.

One month, I won $2,000 and another $4,000. I’d win a grand or so most months if kept my focus on the 50 cent machines,  so I broke even.

For some reason, I always seemed to win on long weekends.

Good times.

I also loved to go to the Slots to people watch. There is no place on Earth that reveals persona like a gambling den. Little old ladies can become monsters if you accidentally sit on a favorite stool. Then there are the others who would rather piss themselves than move from what they perceive to be a winning machine.

And the winners, boy, oh, boy. Winners, especially big winners, remind me of dogs taking a shit in the backyard. They look around, try to act all nonchalant or shrug sheepishly, ignoring the backslapping and the whoop, whooping of bystanders. The more polite would humbly accept well wishes claiming they “just sat down” when the machine hit. And then, more often than not, you’ll see a guy not far away who had been the one actually playing the machine for two hours. He’d got up to get a coffee and all his money was spilling into somebody else’s pocket.

Once in a while, there would be some really exciting action, with some old fart keeling off a stool, with the security folks taking the paddles to him. Always thought gambling didn’t mix with a serious medical condition.

I always loved those scenes.

I pretty much stopped gambling eight years ago for two reasons. One, I met Scott and thought he deserved better than an insane partner with a gambling addiction. Two, I developed a severe anxiety disorder which left me nearly throwing up or passing out every time I went there.

It was probably the old conscience erupting from the pit of my stomach. My conscience has actually put a halt to much of my deviant and self-destructive behavior over the years — which is a good thing.

As Eliza Doolittle once said, I’m a good girl, I yam, and the purest part of me usually manages to arm wrestle my Wicked Sister Wanda, the black side of me.

But man, what a ride when you’re doing it.

I don’t think I’ve won anything in a year, so I rarely go slotting anymore, and I actually prefer the gym which gives me a pretty big adrenaline rush. Not only that, but the gym is only $50 a month.

For me now, gambling is simply a small vacation from the problems of everyday life.

And at $100 an hour, it’s still cheaper than therapy.


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