The Seven Deadly Sins and Las Vegas Series continues...
Like Greed, Envy is characterized by an insatiable desire, however the two sins differ for two main reasons. Firstly, Greed is normally associated with material wealth, whereas Envy can apply to other concepts, like love or success. Secondly, those who commit the sin of Envy desire something that someone else has. Dante defined this as "love of one's own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs." In Dante's Purgatory, the envious have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low.Over the long term, I'd rather be good than lucky. But over the short term, particularly on a weekend in Las Vegas, I'd take ephemeral luck over skill or competence in a heartbeat. Las Vegas can be frustrating because you see complete jackoffs walking away with huge sums of cash. Some have stacks of black chips that they're spilling on their way to the cage that they scored after a hot run at the black jack tables. Or the push monkeys that bad beated their way to poker tournaments with hyper-accelerating blinds that are throwing a rubber band over a wad of Benjamins. Or the chain-smoking blue haired octogenarians that pocketed $30K on a single slot pull.
I want their money. I want those intoxicating looks on their faces. I want their luck. Badly.
Just take a walk down the Strip on any random week night at 2am and you'll see the hiccups of modern society dodging the porn slappers and filtering into the IP at odd hours to gamble their dreams away like an overzealous rookie bluffing off half his stack with a gutshot that never fills in.
The capitalist pigs of big business prey on your envious ways. The majority of good citizens like you and me are insecure about some aspect of our lives, which makes us easy prey for marketing. Turn on the TV and watch a few commercials and you'll see that if you are not already insecure, The Man will do anything possible to make you feel like shit so you will go out and buy their product to make you feel better.
Feel like a crappy husband? Buy diamonds. Losing your hair? Buy this drug. Can't get it up? Pop this penis pill. Have a small penis? Buy this Hummer. Want to hide those homosexual tendencies? Drink this beer.
But if there was a product to increase your luck, I'd be the first person in line to buy it. Cyndy Violette has her lucky stones and I'm very close to asking her where I could score some lucky rocks. I've done everything possible to attract good luck. Nothing. I avoided $50 bills. I avoided a few bloggers who have been known to have "Cooler" abilities. I gave money to homeless people on the subway the last time I was in NYC. I adopted fourteen Malawian children and even backed one of those wastrels on PokerStars sweating my table begging for $5. I said the Our Father in Latin before every Pai Gow deal. I even sacrificed three virgins in The Rooster's room with a Haitian witch doctor sitting in the corner drinking Wild Turkey. And I still got fucking cold decked by those demagogues in Hawaiian shirts at the Pai Gow tables.
I know why I'm prone to fits of crappy luck at the tables... it's the karmic balance of all things in my life. At any given time, there has to be at least one thing completely fucked up going on with regard to my career, family, friends, relationships, health, finances, and my personal self. When most of those things are flowing smoothly, the powers to be decide to fuck me at the tables. It's a Philip K. Dickian struggle between good and evil as I develop a paranoia that everyone in the gambling industry is conspiring to get all of my money. I think the origin of my psychotic paranoia was all of those bad things I said about Harrah's during the WSOP. Sometimes those suits will go to the extremes to make field goal kickers with lots of vowels in their names miss chip shots so I lose my bet at Caesar's sportsbook or they set up cold decks at the Pai Gow tables at the IP just to drive me insane.
How else can I explain my horrible run of bad luck? Was it just a coincidence that guys with 2-2 flopped a deuce against my Pocket Aces. Or when I had a straight and Kings up in Pai Gow, the dealer miraculously has a higher straight and A-A?
There something called the Envy Bonus in Pai Gow and for $5 you're gambling that someone at the table is going to hit a bonus hand. Grubette is a staunch proponent of betting the Fortune Bonus at the Pai Gow tables, so much so that she gets visibly upset if you don't play the bonus. She'll furiously tap the table and question your manhood until you throw your $1 chips into the circle. F Train and I refused to give in and that set Grubette on Fortune Pai Gow Bonus Tilt. She had to get up and walk off the steam spewing out of her ears.
The best cure for envy is to repeat that stupid fucking ubiquitous mantra that's been repeating itself in my head continuously since 1986.
"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."
I knew some hippies from my Seattle days that used to say, "The grass is always better, when you smoke your neighbors' grass."
The "grass is always greener" mantra is about understanding that there no absolute perfect place or moment in life and that if you examine everything you will find some faults and come to the conclusion that the alternative is better. Sure sometimes it is, but the entire point of the saying is accepting the Zen philosophy of being in the moment.
That reminds me of an old saying from Lao Tzu, "To not want is to be."
By eliminating desire, you have a better chance at living completely in the moment. To think about having other things (material or non-material) makes you lose focus on the now and instead of living in the present.
Being able to live in the moment in Las Vegas became impossible for me when my mind started drifting and I began desiring the luck of the other gamblers. I was soon coveting my neighbor's wife and my neighbor's oxen. I wanted that winning hand. I wanted to be betting on the winning team. I wanted to be betting on anything that won. The number 23 at craps. The under in the Suns/Bobcats game. Anything.
I knew it got ugly when I was offering to shoot Odds or Evens with F Train in the lobby of the IP. I didn't think it was possible, but I fucked that up too. It was 33% less difficult that Roshambo. I had to only pick one of two numbers. Cold decked in Odds and Evens.
Humiliated, I peeled a bill out of my diminishing bankroll and paid my debt to F Train. My bankroll used to look like Fat Elvis. At that point, it looked like the ever disappearing Nicole Ritchie.
When people in recovery talk about the moment they decided to turn it all around, they speak about the flashpoint where you hit rock bottom. I had been at that destination too many times before in life. Like a bus station in the middle of nowhere that smells like cat piss and desperation, you know you've been dropped on Death's doorstep and only you can find your way back. It's when you having nothing left to cling to... that's when you decide to take the first step and improve yourself.
That's why I understand how people quickly trade addictions and find religion or God or spirituality after dabbling in booze, gambling, drugs, sex, and capitalism. As humans, we need to get off for one reason or another. Either it's for excitement or to dull the pain, whatever the root of the problem... it's there. That thirst has made many men and women wealthy. Depravity and decadence is profitable. And as long as there's that urge... that want... that desire... a place like Las Vegas will always make money.
I finally got my shit together when I realized that I envied those lucky folks who were at the airport ready to get on flights to go home. I don't have a home per se, but I wanted to get the hell out of Las Vegas before I lost any more of my money, my hair, and my sanity.
... to be continued.
Read the other installments...