I have, several times, watched the movie Casino with Sharon Stone dressed in glamorous gold sequins moving in balletic slow motion under the mesmerised gaze of Robert DeNiro. Didn’t she look like every woman dreams of looking at some time in her life, if only for a moment. I am fascinated by those charming black and white movies where everyone looks so elegant and win or lose doesn’t seem to matter at all. I am immensely amused by that show Las Vegas on the TV. Is it still on? I remember the intense thrill of the James Bond where beautiful women and men gamble superbly and James resplendent in Armani tux wins the game, saves the world and gets the girl. It is all so devastatingly splendid. I was perhaps led astray by the romance of the casino as displayed in that remote enticing realm far beyond reality.
So, when my friend said ‘Let’s go gamble’ I saw myself with a box full of colourful gambling chips. I saw myself leaning in to the table and gathering the pile to myself greedily and that one that spins over red and black always landing on my number. I saw little silver coins spilling out of coin machines. I saw jubilation at unjustified, but much appreciated bucks. I saw the full delusion and I said ‘Yes, lets go’!
After the first twenty rand got chomped up by the machine I felt resentment. Here I am in the least glamorous place on this whole planet not a gold sequin in sight; sitting at this machine with its ugly images spinning incessantly before my eyes, pressing the spin button again and again, already starting to feel the niggling beginning of what I know is going to become extreme ennui and all this has so far cost me twenty rand.
‘Why is this fun?’ I ask my friend. He joins me at my machine and puts in another twenty for me. ‘Play’ he enthusiastically commands. I press the spin button, the wheel spins, it lands on a configuration of ugly images and a box in the corner tells me I have won two points. I am unmoved. I press the spin button, the wheel spins it lands on a similar configuration of ugly images. It takes my two points away. I am unimpressed. And so it continues until eventually the twenty rand is guzzled.
‘Well, you almost won’. He encourages. But I didn’t win, did I? Almost winning is losing, isn’t it? I lost. I had now lost forty rand and I had not had any fun yet. As I continued to ‘almost win’ my friend would hold his breath in hope, then sigh with regret and tell me ‘almost!’ adding irritation to the monotony. Another twenty rand note devoured. ‘Almost’ is not getting me to the point where that machine is spilling its guts in my favour. Almost was not part of my delusion.
Sixty rand consumed. I could swear that the machine burped in satisfaction. It has been well fed. I have had enough. It is digesting my money and I am not prepared to part with another cent in the name of ‘almost’. Besides, I have now transcended boredom and crossed the threshold of sphere far more excruciating.
‘You’re only bored because you didn’t win’, my friend tells me. Yes, that is true. What I don’t understand is why he is not bored. ‘Well I won seventy rand’. He boasts.
Now here’s where logic takes time off. My friend put the colossal sum of one hundred South African rand into this machine. The machine spun. It took him above his one hundred rand, it took him below his one hundred rand and it took him, eventually to the sum of seventy rand at which point he decided to cash out.
‘You didn’t win. You lost thirty rand’. I say haughtily.
‘You lost sixty’. He smirks
Yeah, more fool me.