Monday, February 26, 2007

Call Me Ishmael

Saturday night, I slept in a casino parking lot.

It's not as bad as it sounds. I wasn't with my family.

Wait, that's not helping. Here's the story.

This weekend was going to be a hunter-gatherer deal, a chance for some friends and me to bring home sustenance for our lovely brides and precious angels.

"They're calling for bad weather," we all heard as we packed our gear.

"Bad weather? Do you stop needing food just because it's bad weather? That's all the more reason for us to go."

"There's a grocery store five blocks from home."

"Grocery stores are for weenies."

The roads were fine on Saturday morning. What do women know? Predicting the weather is man's work. We got to our destination, unpacked, and started fishing. Didn't have much luck, but that was alright, we were comfortable and had a full cooler.

About 5 o'clock, someone suggested running up the casino for dinner. It was only 20 or 30 miles away, there's a nice buffet, and we could do a little gambling so that we could shower our families with both fish and cash when we returned home.

By 10 o'clock we were ready to head back. Granted, it's not a good sign when a sheriff's car is in the ditch, but that's why you pay extra for four-wheel drive.

There were flags that marked the turn-off to our rental cabin. At least there had been in the afternoon. Now, we couldn't see more than a few feet and the flags sure as hell didn't seem to be there. We weren't even sure we were where the turn-off was supposed to be.

One of the guys volunteered to get out and go look for them. He walked ten feet and turned around.

"Do you think he saw something?"

"Yeah, a wolf."

"Maybe. I wonder if he'll make it back to the car."

"Turn off the headlights. That should freak him out."

Entertaining as the rest of us found this, at this point even we knew it was time to give up. By now, the casino hotel was full. As were the rest of the hotels in the area. The casino itself was open, of course (Mammon never sleeps), so back there we went.

It's fun to gamble at 1 or 2 in the morning. It feels like a sophisticated evening out with the Rat Pack. By 3 a.m., however, I was starting to wonder if perhaps we'd really died on the road out there and I'd ended up in hell. This wouldn't be unexpected, but I've kind of been hoping I could delay it for a few more years.

To make matters worse, the piped-in music was almost entirely "Greatest Hits of the 80s." If there's something more horrible than listening to Madonna sing "Material Girl" while you're pumping money into a nickel slot machine, perhaps I should reconsider my lifestyle after all.

Meanwhile, two of my friends had settled in at one of the poker tables. Another was roaming in circles around the casino floor, looking more and more like a tiger in a too-small cage. The last was sitting at the slot machine next to me, his face taking on a pasty, overly-caffeinated look. I suspected I was starting to look like him. Not something I wanted even on one of his good days.

"Give me the keys. I'm going to the car."

I've spent more nights sleeping in vehicles than I care to remember, but it's been a while. Exhaustion finally caught up to me, though, and I was able to doze for an hour or so. Apparently I at least looked refreshed when I went back in, because the others gave it a try as well, sleeping in shifts until the sun came up and we could find our way back to the cabin.

Now, why one of our party felt obligated to call home and tell his spouse all this will forever remain a mystery. Needless to say, the story quickly made its way to the rest of the wives, not to mention our children, none of whom had much respect for us to begin with. It didn't help that we hadn't caught any fish.

"How'd the hunting and gathering go?"

"Be quiet."

We've already planned next fall's hunting trip. One of the guys isn't crazy that he got picked to be the moose decoy, but he'll get over it.


teh l4m3 said...

I bet you'd have oodles of fun climbing Mt. Hood in a snowstorm...