by Brian Klems
From The Brain of The Giant Head
Sponsored By Crayola
This past Wednesday was Mama Brain’s birthday, and being the wonderful son that I am, I sent her a card and made sure to remember that birthday phone call. The family was over the house, enjoy birthday Chinese food around the birthday table with birthday cheesecake. It sounded like a lot of fun and I was kind of bummed that I was 300 miles away and unable to partake in the festivities, but I celebrated her monumental day with the family last weekend when I was in Cincinnati. And we did what most families do on the Mother’s birthday.
We went gambling.
Nothing like waking up before the cartoons come on to drive many miles just to drop $100 on slots. If you haven’t tried it you should. Just take $100 from your father’s wallet and gamble it all away. If he asks where the money went, tell him the dog ate it. If you don’t have a dog, tell him your younger sister ate it. After all, when you were 5 and she was 3 she did blame you for drawing all over the freshly painted walls with a red crayon while she just happened to be an innocent bystander with melted red crayon all over her hands. Not that I hold a grudge or anything.
On the car ride over we jammed to the Blue Tape. Oh yes, the Blue Tape. Every family should have a Blue Tape. The Blue Tape is a compilation of some of the finest music ever recorded, or at least the only music we ever listened to growing up because that’s what our folks listened to. From Billy Joel to Harry Chapin to Martin Mull, Papa Brain, Mama Brain, Little Sister Jennie and I sang loud, sang proud, and sang without any idea what the word "harmony" meant. But that didn’t matter, just like most embarrassing things don’t matter when you’re with family. It was fun. Everyone has fond memories of growing up that they never let go of -- mine just happen to be of Blue Tapes and red crayons.
When we arrived a the casino, we didn’t waste any time riding up the elevator and plopping our butts down in front of the colorful slot machine lights. Casinos are an odd place. It’s the one place in the world where class, race and gender don’t matter. The casino does not discriminate -- it robs everyone blind equally.
Without hesitation, I, like my other family members, started feeding the bellies of the machines. The goal to playing slot machines is to make the machine sick. Every time you feed a machine’s belly, it wiggles its eyes at you and, depending on its digestive track, it’ll either give you a happy or an angry face. If the machine is happy, which is generally the case, it’ll just sit there ignoring you, much like Michelle Walton did back in 3rd grade when I passed her a note asking her to be my girlfriend and she responded by saying "Go poop in your hat." Which confused me because she didn’t seem happy later in the day when I handed her my Reds hat filled with "her instructions." Ah ... fond memories, but I digress.
If the machine is happy it ignores you. If the machine’s angry, it’ll throw-up all over the place, leaving shiny silver chunks. What’s odd is that, unlike humans, the machine likes it when you put it’s revisited-lunch back in its mouth. The more you do it the more likely it is to keep throwing up on you. And get this -- people at the counters will actually PAY YOU for the puke. How great is that!
So I kept throwing money into the machines left and right, trying to win enough puke to pay my college loans. But my machine was too happy. It kept smiling at me as I dropped about $50 in its mouth, which is considered a healthy diet according to the Federal Slot Machines Association.
But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my sister getting puked on by every machine she sat down in front of. She pissed off so many machines, that she walked away with 3 tubs of upchuck, which the cashier paid her handsomely for. Mama and Papa Brain were like me, keeping their machines too happy and throw-up free.
As we walked out of there, with the three eldest in the group now as poor as youngest was when she walked in, and the youngest now rolling in riches, I leaned over and asked my sister just exactly how she made the machines so angry. And she leaned over to me and, in a soft voice, explained:
"I’m just better than you in everything."
And I smiled the rest of the ride home, joking with my family, singing along with the Blue Tape and remembering all the fond memories of my childhood and how each new day, including our gambling experience, was filling me with new memories I will cherish forever. I’m sure the rest of my family cherishes them as well, especially Little Sister Jennie once she realizes that her cabbage patch doll, Pearly, is missing and reads the ransom note for 3 tubs of puke.
More importantly, I hope she notices it was written in red crayon.
I hope you all join me in singing Happy Birthday to my Mom. I’m sure she’ll hear us, especially since all of us sing off-key. Happy Birthday Mom.