Friday, July 17, 2009


So I told you all about me taking my mother to a casino in Pennsylvania earlier this week. My mom was a willing and complicit participant in said casino raid. What I haven’t told you, is that on the weekend leading up to my casino trip with my mom, I kidnapped an old woman and transported her over the state line without her knowledge. Now before you get all F.B. I’s most wanted on me, let me explain . . .

My mother in law is a terrific gambler. She taught me to play poker, craps and roulette and this has practically shaped my idea of recreation. Now, whenever we are planning a vacation, my first question is “Do they have gambling there?”. Mind you, this not a requirement. It’s not a hurry up and get her to GA, kind of situation. I love to travel and I will go anywhere, regardless of whether there is legalized gambling available. It’s just that the presence of a casino is a juicy cherry glistening on top of my vacation sundae.

My MIL is a good bit older than my mom, twenty years to be precise. So, her ability to endure long car rides and walk around is not what it used to be. In addition, her vision and hearing are failing and seem to get a little worse every day. Her memory is a little wonky too, but all in all she’s actually in pretty good shape for an 88 year old.

My first trips to Atlantic City were with my MIL and FIL and my husband (then boyfriend). Those initial trips are some of my best family memories. The two of them were willing and able teachers in the “gambling arts” and I drank up the education readily. I learned the very intimidating game of craps wedged between the two of them at a five dollar table in the Bally Grand in Atlantic City. They made the game easy and fun. Before I knew it, I was yelling “dollar yo!” on the come out roll and telling the dealer to “press my five” with complete authority. Sadly, my FIL passed away in October and she’s been grappling with the process of being alone for the first time in many years, maybe ever.

Over the past few years, the two of them had their share of health concerns. Eventually, they lost their confidence driving down to AC on their own. They allowed us to drive them down once or twice after that, but they eventually stopped going all together. We offered to take them all the time, but in recent years my MIL never wanted to be far away from her doctor and lost confidence about going out.

Since my FIL’s passing, we have been able to convince my MIL to stay overnight with us on a few weekends, which she did this past weekend. On Sunday morning, Dave started making secret plans to drop the kids off with his niece and to get on the ferry to Connecticut. We whispered back and forth about whether we should tell her what we were planning, but we knew that if we asked her, the answer would be a firm and resolute NO. The plan then became, tell her that we were “taking a ride out east”.

When we pulled into the lineup to get on the ferry, MIL did not seem the least bit suspicious. I’m not even sure that she registered where we were. We pointed out the water and boats and everything and she talked about what the area was like when she used to come out there 50 years ago, but no questions about what we were doing or where we were going. We pulled the car onto the ferry and walked her out to the back of the boat, took a seat on a shady bench under the overhang and still nothing. It was a gloriously beautiful summer day and the water on the Long Island sound was as smooth as glass. It took the boat just under an hour to steam the sixteen miles across the sound to CT and we chatted and traded gambling stories the entire way. She even mentioned (as if I were not acutely aware) that there was a casino just a short ride past the ferry dock in Bridgeport. When the boat landed in Connecticut, I casually mentioned going to Mohegan Sun, but she did not register any reaction. Then we continued on for another fifty miles through Connecticut and arrived at the valet parking area in the Casino of the Earth at Mohegan Sun. Dave asked the parking attendant to get a wheel chair so that we could whisk my MIL all over the giant complex with speed and ease. When we stopped in the ladies room for a post-trip pit stop, my MIL grabbed my arm and asked me “Did you know that we were coming here?". My answer was "Of course."

We took her to the buffet for lunch, only because, that's where she asked to go. The food was not so good, but this was not a trip about eating and MIL seemed to enjoy the meal. When we asked her what she wanted to play, she did not hesitate for a second in replying "Craps!". She asked us to find a five dollar table, which seemed like a lot to ask on a weekend, but sure enough, there were several.

We found a table that seemed to have a good energy and asked the pit boss for a stool for her to sit on. MIL propped all 5' 1" of herself up on the chair and bought in for $100. Initially, I just stood by, prompting and reminding her how to bet, how much to throw down for each number and reminding her when she tried to cover a number that she already had. She could not see the numbers on the board, no less the stacks of chips in her assigned slot. After about three point rolls, I realized that I was being a dumbass, I should be playing, not kibitzing! So I bought in as well and started to play. It was such a great feeling to be elbow to elbow with her after such a long absence and we played for over an hour like it was the old days.

When she started to tire, she asked me to cash in her chips for her at the cashier window. She did not win very big, but she did come out ahead. She was $43 dollars over her initial $100 investment. I did slightly better than that, netting a $75 profit. By this point, it was clear to us that she wanted to go home. We didn't hesitate and moved quickly back to the valet, retrieved our car and headed home. The whole car ride back, I worried whether she had a good time or if she was angry with us for taking her there without asking. Outwardly, it appeared that she had a good time. She certainly still had her craps mojo.

The next day, Dave's brother went to visit MIL at her house and asked her about the trip. From what he said, she had a good time, but her scrambled memory had "tweaked" some of the details. First of all, she told him that it was HER idea to go and that she had to make us aware of the fact that there was a casino in CT. In addition, the $43 dollars that she won, became $439. Lastly, she told him that when she got tired, she had to beg us to leave because we didn't want to stop gambling. But I can deal with the little inaccuracies because I know she had fun. I just hope she doesn't go somewhere expecting to pay for something with four casino-crisp one hundred dollar bills only to find $43 dollars in her wallet.

9 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

KimberLeigh said...

I wonder if the story your mother in law tells will change again and she starts telling people that you robbed her of her $439 at gunpoint and left her for dead in the casino.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! That's hysterical. Hey, wait a minute. That could totally happen.

If I suddenly stop posting, then you'll know why. I'll be doing a stretch in county for armed robery of a geriatric.

Mare said...

I love that story! Sounds like a wonderful day! I've never seen her play Craps but I can picture it. Afterall, isn't she the source of most of the things we've learned about poker over the years (like Brooklyn!)?

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

She is the source of all my favorite poker games. I might not have learned to play poker at all if not for her.

JStantonChandler said...

Fun story. You have such a marvelous voice for storytelling.


DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Thanks Jen. That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me, ever. You just reversed my crummy day!

Mel said...

And when I asked her how it was, she said it was GRRRRRRREATTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!! (Like Tony the Tiger).... I love the inaccuracies in the report of the day. That is SOOOOOO her!!!!!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I am so happy that she had a good time. If she hated it, she'd have been equally as vocal about it, maybe more.

somebody said...


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