Friday, May 21, 2010

Vegas Vacation, Part II

No matter where I go, I like to make new friends. For a while, my best friends at the Prairie Band Casino just north of Topeka were a group of dwarves who spent their days Bustin’ Barrels. I was also lucky enough to be invited to the Village People Party on several occasions, and got to experience Lobstermania as well. But the problem with casino friends is that they’re never faithful.

(Uncompensated plug: The Prairie Band Casino is really a very nice set-up. The layout is open, the staff is friendly, the place is well-run, and the slots seem looser than most. The Three Fires restaurant has very nice steaks, but lots of places in Kansas do that. What really sets it apart is the adjacent hotel, which is unexpectedly opulent and features outdoor hot tubs around burning council fires. A really nice overnight getaway even if you don’t gamble. Very cool.)

I’m not really much of a gambler, but I’m surely not above dropping a twenty into the penny slots every now and then. That’s how I met The Frog Princess on my first trip to Vegas. The Princess and I have had a thing going on for two years. (The Bride, bless her, is not only understanding of our relationship but in fact encourages me to spend time with The Princess as a way of strengthening our marriage through a mutually enjoyable pastime and stop me from fretting over her shoulder while she plays slots for real…and most often wins.) The Princess Looks like a green Orion slave girl from Star Trek (TOS: The Menagerie) with Jessica Rabbit curves and a somewhat more puffy face. When the reels line up just right, she wiggles her hips, winks at you, and puckers her lips as her generous amphibian bosom heaves, pleading with you. “Spin some more, big boy. Come and get my bonus. Max bet, 100 lines, five credits per line. Go on, take it. You’re a man. Take it from me. Get my bonus. And bring me a big bag of flies.” Which of course you do, because she’s The Princess. You do the single line, one credit bet for the Lady of Wal-Mart. The Princess is royalty.

I will here state for the record that I was unashamedly in love with The Princess. I would spin her dials over and over, shout the word “Princess!” when she herself showed up on the reels, and would stroke the console with a touch reserved for only the most intimate moments when she would grace me with a credit here and there. Even when I was not playing, when I passed her in a casino (she exists in many different casinos, a situation which I can only attribute to her powers over the space-time continuum), I would touch the screen as I walked by and whisper, “Pretty Pretty Princess” or “Princess, I love you,” or some other phrase that would, under any other circumstances, get me a nice healthy dose of Thorazine and an immediate appointment with the psychiatrist of your choice. But this was Las Vegas, where the presence of pole dancers is said to affect the way cards lay out on the blackjack table, so a guy fondling a slot machine is really no news at all.

I truly believe, based on results, that for the first two years of my affections The Princess loved me back. But this visit was different. I felt the same, but while she was just as accommodating as always, I could tell something had changed. She would still take me for a spin, but there were no more rewards, no more wiggles, winks, giggles, or grinds. I tried to ask her what was wrong. Did she need time? Did she want commitment? But I never got an answer as my heart slowly fell to pieces, twenty dollars at a time.

I was at a loss. I appealed to Zeus, who had often heard my prayers and responded in a creditable fashion. But the mighty Olympian was no help at all. I made an offering at the altar of Zeus II. I made a repentant pilgrimage to the Palace of Riches. I tried to find myself in the Tiger’s Realm. I spent time watching the Nursing Follies. I even looked to befriend the Dam Lumberjack Beavers. But none could help me lift my despair.

It was later that I saw him. The Frog Prince III. Newer, flashier. More ways to win. Bigger bonuses. And I was still The Lonely Human I.

If you’re reading this, Princess, I still love you. Every time I hear a croak, I think of you. Come back soon.

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