I'll take "splendid" any day over "hmmmmm..."
So then we had the rest of the day to ourselves and we got on good old Highway 95, the superslab that runs from Florida to Maine. We only wanted to get to North East, MD. That's the name of the town AND its whereabouts.
|Where North East is|
But on the way I talked Peggy into trying lunch at the Hollywood Casino, a kind of 2010 version of the community bingo hall. Instead of a couple of dozen people playing bingo for 25 bucks, this vast gamblin' barn holds 1,500 slot machines, into none of whose slots I dropped as much as a dime. Mainly because I didn't know where or how. It seemed complicated. And it would have been like the time we were playing bingo and I won and didn't know it.
I'm not always the slickest slice of cheese in the stack.
And this is Maryland, not Las Vegas or Las Atlantic City, so there are slot machines ONLY. No card games or Keno or dice games or people wearing vests as they shuffle six or seven decks of Bicycles. Anyone leaving Monte Carlo and winding up in Perryville would notice several differences easily.
OK, so games - from Clue to slot machines - are not my métier, but that's ok. Buffets are! I know my way around a carving table, shrimp pit, sauce tub and salad bar just fine, so we walked past the mob of slots players and went to the buffet, which was reasonably priced and not bad at all. Shrimp, tenderloin, salads, fried chicken, mac & cheese, a couple of slabs of pie with coffee and we were in tall cotton, food wise.
We wanted to get up to North East to hit the antique stores and other little shops, but I stood around in the vast gambletorium and noticed something about the atmosphere. Yes, it was loud, and the music was loud and so was the sound of electronic machines being played. Since there are no arms on these one-armed bandits, you didn't hear that yank-and-spin sound, and since these new machines pay off in bar-coded vouchers that winners have to take to a little booth over by the restrooms to cash in, there's no cascade of coins plummeting from within the machine of a happy winner. In fact, I saw people shoving bill after bill into the machines and it was hard to tell if they were winning or not. Their expressions gave up nothing. Not from one person was I able to discern joy or disappointment, or even if they were having a good time.
But I think I know why, and I figured it out. The music was loud, but you know how it is when some joker pulls up next to you on the street or when the kid next door brings home the new Lil' Wayne CD: the music you hear down to your fillings changes pitch and frequency. You hear BOOM bah bah BOOM bah hah hada BOOM.
Not so at the casino. They pump in music, but it's like a CD that is feeding back on the SAME NOTE for hours on end. It's like the background music they play as a suspense-builder on Who Wants To Open The Next Briefcase...all those shows with Regis and Howie and Co. The music builds to a crescendo and stays on that same note for a while. But on those shows, either someone wins or someone loses, and then there is applause or groaning and then we see a soup commercial. At the casino, with 1,500 machines being played, they want you to think that someone is just about to win, and it might as well be YOU, and the music just plays that same note continuously forever. And it probably always will.
We put down 30 bucks and won two fine lunches. Then we went off to North East and bought some Christmas presents, having a lovely day in a nice little town. You bet we had a nice day! Hope you did too.