Monday, April 30, 2012

"I was swimming in the Caribbean/ Animals were hiding behind the rocks/ Except the little fish/ But they told me he swears/ Trying to talk to me coy koi/ Where is my mind?"*

Coachella Part II
        This is a continuing story about my second time at Coachella. Read about the first part here, if you must.
        Scott had convinced/harassed me into stopping at Morongo Casino (“resort and spa”) and I had acquiesced because I was a) up for anything, b) a sucker and c) promised a drink. Indian gaming, he said, gave them license to serve drink for however long they saw fit.
        I’d never been in a casino before, and it was….what’s the word? Gross. Casinos are designed for sad people who’ve lost all other hope: fluorescent green lighting, terrible, repetitive clinking and banging noises, and you don’t get to sit down unless you’re gambling. I learned that right away: I remember watching Scott play a slot machine and the hostess made me stand up because I wasn’t playing. It didn’t matter that no one else in the entire place was playing slots: I could not sit. Assholes.
        Anyway, we walked in over dirty, argyle-patterned carpets and under green lighting and Scott guided me to the bar. I requested a vodka tonic and the bartender explained that last call had already happened, “hon.”. I looked at Scott, and Scott looked at the tables. I got a glass of water, sighing dramatically for his benefit, and we set about the room. I followed him around and checked out the people at the various tables on a Friday night/Saturday morning in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was shaky and green and desperate. It was very intimidating and incredibly depressing.
Inside of Morongo Casino. It does NOT look this good.
        I watched Scott play various games. I tried again to sit down and was asked again to get up off my ass, as the seats were only for players. I could feel my face burning, as I stood up and moved behind Scott. Assholes.
        Scott played multiple hands of black jack before I realized that black jack is the same thing as “21.” I got some bills from the ATM and started playing black jack with Scott. And I sort of started winning. After about an hour, I’d won $200 playing $5 black jack tables. I was feeling pretty good about myself. (And that, dear friends, is why people have gambling problems. Duh. Making money is how we measure success, and if we make money super easily: even better!)
        But I wanted to leave. I was nervous and tired and wanted to find a hotel room so Scott and I could rest up for the concert. But Scott wanted to keep playing. I said we should cut our losses and go home, and he finally agreed, despite being about $150 in the hole. We hit the “bank” and made our way out of the casino.
        We trudged down to the car. I had my winnings in my wallet and was fishing around for my keys. Scott was whining about how if we’d stay for one more hour he could get all his money back.
        I had a sudden jolt of uncertainty and panic. I couldn’t find my keys in my purse. I squatted on the side of the driveway and dumped my purse out on the ground. No keys. Lip gloss, checkbook, wallet, notebook, tampon, book, pen, Chapstick and sunglasses, but no keys.
        Scott was irritated. I’d like to think it had to do with his losses, but it seemed like he was just flat-out annoyed to death by me. He said we should go back into the casino and check all the tables we’d played and the bank.
        So we did: we went through the entire casino. We checked the bank, each table, and the lost-and-found. And the keys were still gone. We talked to security and I scoured the ladies’ restroom.
        Finally we met in the foyer and I said what I’d been dreading the whole 20 minutes.
        “Maybe they’re in the car.”
        “I guess we should go check,” a defeated/pissed off Scott replied.           
        So we walked apprehensively down the long, sloping driveway to my innocent, black Honda sitting in that enormous, hideous parking lot. Part of me never wanted to get there. I thought maybe if I could come up with some other part of the casino we hadn’t explored (the bar! The hotel lobby! the fountains!), we wouldn’t have to face what was starting to feel agonizingly inevitable.
        We approached the car slowly—Scott on the passenger side, me on the driver’s side—and bent over to peer in at the same time.
        There in the flashing neon lights of the Morongo Casino we saw the big, metal blob that was my keys: enough to look like I was some kind of janitor. The ridiculous key chains that featured Aladdin and Jasmine, a basketball, a “hang loose Breckenridge” sign and a USC bottle opener. There were my keys to my apartment, my mailbox, my back gate, my valet key, my parents’ house, my storage locker and my car.
        “Well, there you go,” breathed Scott, in his throaty, Jack Nicholson voice. “You got Triple A?”
        The rest will follow.(You can read parts three, four, and five here.)
*"Where Is My Mind" by The Pixies.

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