Like Father, Like Daughter
My mother was very worried about me going off to Vegas. Partly because I’m her only child and I was going by myself, and she considers me to be of the “I’m invincible” mindset. She was afraid I’d get in some situation I couldn’t handle, get myself taken advantage of. Her other big concern? That I was I going to gamble away every last penny to my name.
Her basis for this fear was simply that I am my father’s daughter. This means quite simply that I have green eyes, thick brown hair, am left-handed, have a predisposition to Crown Royal and, although it took a little bit longer to show up, an affinity for gambling.
I have never considered my father to be a big gambler. Oh sure, I remember being a little girl, four years old, taking my first sip of beer at his knee during a neighborhood poker game. But it wasn’t like he was up every night playing poker till the wee hours. No, that’s something his daughter now does.
I do however remember my first trip to Vegas. I was 10. Why take a 10 year old to Vegas, you might ask? Well…I guess my grandmother was busy. (And truth be told, it was she who taught be how to play poker, 7 card stud, so ironically enough, left back in Houston, I would have seen more action). Or maybe they were tired of me never letting them hear the end of it for how they left me behind when they went to Acapulco, so they decided to play it safe this time. At any rate, we stayed at the Hilton, and I remember then getting real familiar with the “persons under 21 may not enter the casino” concept. Well suck. So off they immediately run into the -EV pit (not that I knew what the hell that was at the time) and I sit on a bench outside the pit of glittery slot machines. And mope. And yes, nice strangers, I’ll watch your bags for you while you run into the pit too.
Eventually I had a great time in Vegas. It was Vegas after all. Seduced me from the very beginning. There was a toy shop in the Hilton, and in it I found the one thing I just had. to. have. It was a stuffed white cat, but not just any stuffed cat. When you pet it, it purred! Squeezed it, and it meowed! Head and tail moved! This was amazing toy technology! (This was ’86 people). I did what every good little only child daddy’s girl would do in such a situation. I asked for the cat. I turned on the charm and asked again. I was told that if my father had a good run that night, it was mine. While I don’t exactly remember my response, I know enough about myself to know that this was not exactly a satisfying answer, but it was OK. [And looking back, what kind of message was this sending to me? Hmmmm…]
What I DO remember is going back to the toy store the next day, and my father buying me that stuffed white cat with a crisp $100 bill, from a roll of $100s, which I promptly named “Lucky”. I loved that cat. I kept him for years, until one day I got really bored and for some reason decided he needed a haircut. Then I got really mad at my parents for letting me give Lucky a haircut, since he had such sentimental value, and I felt like I had ruined him completely. [Yes, I was a teenager. Why do you ask?]
Mid-May I was back in Houston visiting the folks, and my father was flying out to Louisiana to meet up with some of the family before driving off to a wedding. I got up early on Friday morning to take my father to the airport, and as we’re sitting in the terminal area having coffee, we’re discussing the recent trip to Reno he and my mother took. As always, they both have two different versions of it. My mother is a school principal, and they were there as chaperones for a school group. Once the kids arrived, my mother quit gambling. My father…not so much. He hit it big on the slots, winning a $1,000 jackpot. And here’s where a grown man in his 50s precedes to get yelled at by his daughter in the middle of the Houston Hobby airport about something called “-EV”. (No longer 10, she kinda has a grasp on the concept now).
During that little visit, my father mentions his own upcoming trip to Vegas. “Mid-July”, he says. “You suck”, daughter says. “Final table of WSOP”, she explains. “I won’t be able to see any of it”, he says – too busy with the convention he’s going for.
Back home daughter goes, where she recants conversation to mother. And it’s there that mother lets her in on a 18-year old little secret. “That day that you saw Lucky in the toy store?”, she says. “We didn’t buy him then because we barely had the money to get home at that point – your father had lost it all before. So yes, he had to win, but for more than just you to get your damn cat. Why do you think we had that cheap-ass rental car?” A few more Vegas demons are released, and a daughter begins to understand her mother’s worry.
Fast-forward to today. I call my father to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and he mentions again his Vegas trip. I try to contain my jealousy. Ever since I got back, I’ve been seriously debating spending the summer in Vegas, helping out the Prof, spending way too much time at the MGM…it’s been an internal debate between the responsible part of me [where the hell have you been?] and the wild child in me [hello little one!]. Many of you have encouraged me to go. I admit it is awfully tempting. I have the miles for a $10 ticket back. However, I should probably save that for October, yes? Then there’s the whole “where to live” thing…it could be done, but it’s a matter of should it be done. The smart thing to do is to stay here and put my bored butt in summer school and raise up the GPA. This does not appease the wild child…she’s a little depressed by this decision and is going to need some other outlet.
In talking to my father this time, he says that if I want, I can come to Vegas with him. Well OK! I immediately check the calendar for the dates of his trip, compare it to the WSOP schedule, and figure out how many days of class I’d be missing if indeed I do sign up for summer school. I’m not sure I can pass this one up. After all, he needs someone to keep him out of trouble, right? At first thought, sharing a room in Vegas with my father seems like a bit of a downer – I know I’m going to hear it when I come in at 5, 6, 7 in the morning after playing poker all night. And then of course, it’ll get back to my mother, and then I’ll really hear it. But then I realized, no I won’t. Because although he may resist at first, with his work and whatnot, eventually he’ll be right there along with me. And only positive, or at least minimally -EV games this time – like daughter, like father.