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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Enchanted Island

I had a wonderful time with the kids watching the fireworks competition at the park beside the Casino de Lac Leamy on Saturday night. Four countries were showcased in the grand finale, the culmination of three weeks worth of entries from various nations around the world.

We watched breath-taking displays from China, Portugal, The United States and Germany. Germany, set to the tune of Amazing Grace, won the crown this year.

As we walked back from the beach toward the park, extolling the wonder of the pyrotechnics we had just witnessed, a disco band took the stage and the kids ended up dancing and jumping around to tunes that were cheesy when I heard them the first time, in 1978. Still, they were having pure, unabashed fun without the aid of alcohol or narcotics and they seemed to marvel at the fact that this was possible and that they were having more fun than those vices afford without the headache or empty wallet the next morning.

So, it was fun to see them having fun. If “Disco Inferno” taught them that valuable lesson, I will have to concede… finally… begrudgingly… that disco had a purpose.

We ate hot dogs that cost a buck (oh yeah! Thanks for not gouging us!) and helped locate the owner of a set of lost keys that we found under the picnic table where we were eating.

And then, it was time to go to… The Enchanted Island.

We were beside the casino, its superfluous row of fountains spewing out enough water to hydrate The Congo, lights changing the water purple, pink, red and yellow. Limousines pulled in to the grounds. We saw Porsches. We saw Bentleys. We saw any number of cars that cost more than the entire year’s budget for the homeless shelter. Valets waited on these people like they were royalty and that is part of the whole fairy tale, isn’t it?

The kids wanted to experience the casino. I didn’t want to go that badly, but being there would keep them from doing something foolish with their money and would also make sure they could get home as they didn’t seem to think ahead enough to figure out that transit stops at midnight. Like Cinderella’s coachmen, they turn back into mice… or something like that.

So, we went in and they tried slot machines and poker machines and the bells chimed and the buzzers whizzed and the lights blinked and it was all very awesome-looking and mesmerizing at first. Here we were on The Enchanted Island where money floats in the people’s heads like the dance of the sugarplum fairy. And like the sugarplums, the money is a dream too.

We saw reams of money coming out of the wallets of desperate gamblers thinking that maybe if they play one more time, this will be the big one. Another group of singers were murdering ‘The Beatles’, smiling even though people were gambling all around them and paying them absolutely no attention.

Then, after a little time passed by, my daughter, in her wisdom, pipes up. “This is boring, isn’t it? How do people do this every day?”

Well, my Darling, it’s the enchanted island. It seems magical. It seems like another world. It promises big things, but you walk out feeling small and when the spell wears off, and you go back to sweeping the cinders, you just feel like a fool.

I couldn’t have given them a better lesson in life if I tried. They came. They saw. We left a little less rich, but so much wiser.

False hope. You liar. You hold so many people in your clutches and they are so taken with the lights and the bells and the magic that they don’t see the dead men’s bones strewn about the entrance to your lair. Broken families. Weeping souls. You leave nothing but a bitter taste and destruction in your wake.

Turn off the music, Sweetheart, and strip off that gaudy makeup. You’re wasting your efforts on me.

1 comment:

  1. My sentiments exactly about Casinos - False Hope.