Friday, December 22, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins Part V: Pride

The Seven Deadly Sins and Las Vegas Series concludes with this final chapter.

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In almost every list Pride is considered the original or most serious sin, and the ultimate source of all other sins. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive to others, failing to give credit due to others, or excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, Pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the famed Doctor of Paris, Cenodoxus. Pride was what sparked the fall of Lucifer from Heaven, and his subsequent transformation into Satan. Vanity and Narcissism are good examples of these sins, though both imply a more empty feeling of Pride, with little to back it up. In the Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with their heads bowed while they were whipped in order to induce feelings of humility.
"Fuck pride!" Marsellus Wallace said in Pulp Fiction.

I wanted to get unstuck and Pride was fucking me in another one of those abusive relationships. Pride is a fickle thing. There's a fine line between being confident in who you are and crossing that line and acting like a narcissistic baboon. Pride is the root of all assholes on the planet. Pride is what prevents you from admitting you made a mistake. Pride is what makes you belittle the short comings of others in order to make you feel better about yourself.

My most embarrassing moments happen to occur when several of the deadly sins are dancing and cajoling the guy inside my head who calls most of the shots. Pride is the ring leader and parades Gluttony and Greed and Lust in front of me like scantily clad nubile lingerie models. It's impossible to look away and I'm immediately distracted. And when I'm paying the least attention to life, Pride takes control and things start falling apart.

I wanted to get unstuck, but I couldn't accept defeat and walk away a loser. Instead of a small loss, I chased and my losses grew bigger and bigger. Pai Gow? Loser. Craps? Loser. NBA? Loser. NFL? Loser. The hole got deeper and my mood got darker. I became pathetic character in a Raymond Carver short story... somber, desperate, and intense.

Pride was making me chase my losses when at best under optimal conditions, I was a long shot to break even. I hadn't slept well in days. My mind was frazzled. I had been drinking an increased amount than I normally do when I gamble (to ease the pain of the heavy losses). And my decision making abilities were clouded due to Severe Mega Pai Gow Tilt (SMPGT). I was lucky enough to make it out of Las Vegas alive without having to dig into my poker bankroll to cover my losses in the pit and at the sports book.

"You wanted to lose so you bet on the Rams against the Bears," Change100 said in a hushed tone.

"I love home dogs, especially on Monday Night Football," I blurted out trying to justify my losing pick.

I sounded like the poor guy who bet on the Washington Generals every night they played the Harlem Globetrotters. I was pissed at her because she was right. Where the fuck were you when I made the pick to try to get unstuck?

Sometimes you do the wrong thing even though you know fully that you're about to do the wrong thing. Yet you do it anyway. Gambler's suicide. It happens every hour on the hour in Las Vegas, synched up to the Bellagio Fountains. Everytime the fountains spew water thirty stories into the air, a gambler somewhere on the Strip decides to end their misery. They "go for broke" and bet it all on the Pass Line. They push all in with a questionable hand. They toss the rest of their redbirds on one last hand of Pai Gow. The bet it all on the Rams. They know the result before they made it. They were born to lose that day and wanted to end the slow torture.

No wonder that more people come to Las Vegas commit suicide than any other city. I think the other one is San Francisco, so people could jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. There are no big bridges to jump off of in Las Vegas but there's plenty of other ways to kill yourself under the bright lights. Most fugitives end up in Las Vegas on one final bender before they get caught and go to jail. Vegas was where the Ohio highway sniper ended up before he was caught by the federalies at a sister property of the Redneck Riviera if you can believe that.

America's most desperate souls flock to Las Vegas for one final bender before they off themselves in one of those no-tell motels in North Las Vegas with a vague suicide note written on the back of a $10 off coupon to the Thunder from Down Under. Or how about the tenebrous souls who spiral into a fit of morbid depression and jump out of the Excalibur? Those are the stories that get covered up the most... the suicides on the Strip. The powers to be don't want you to know that someone either did a drug deal, nailed a hooker on the bed spread, or tried to kill themselves in your $79 room with a Strip View.

We call it Sin City, but like the fallen angels who left God's side eons ago, they encircle the city and prey on the weak. They whisper words encouraging deviant behavior to you while you sleep and the city that you thought would be the place to fulfill your dreams is nothing more than a mirage in the dessert with an all you can eat buffet that crushes your dreams after getting your Aces cracked by Jack-Shit.

Las Vegas is a sham, a fabricated city and nothing more than an adult Disneyland with single deck blackjack and $300 hookers. Part of the charm is that we know it's a rouse, but like Hunter Thompson said, "Buy a ticket. Take the ride."

We know we're supposed to go to Vegas and do things we normally wouldn't do in our 9 to 5 lives. If you were playing cards with a guy who just got released from prison while drinking at 10am on a Wednesday... without a doubt, your wife would divorce you and your boss would fire you on the spot. In Vegas, that's the least weird behavior you're going to see that day.

That's what's supposed to be the allure about Las Vegas that the mobsters who started the town envisioned it to be... a place in the middle of nowhere away from the cops and the federalies where they could drink, gamble, fuck, and have a good time without anyone breaking up the party.

The suits took it over and turned it into a shopping mall with slot machines. Thank God for the hookers. At least they give Las Vegas a semblance of purity.

It's when you lose sight of what Vegas is supposed to be about and project other romantic and unrealistic notions that the dark side sets in because you were not prepared for it blindside you. You're supposed to go to Las Vegas and lose money and drink too much and do stupid shit. And if you win some money in the process.... then that's awesome because you got paid for your degenerate behavior.

It's when Vegas doesn't meet your expectations that Pride sets in and ruins the trip. Instead of surrendering to the flow of Las Vegas, you fight the fallen angels. You flirt with the deadly sins. And that's when the town turns you on your head and you wake up at odd hours clutching the porcelain god wondering where it all went wrong.

Las Vegas owes you nothing. You flew into town with your sole purpose to use Las Vegas perhaps looking for a quick score and a shortcut to financial success. You wanted to get laid, get fucked up, and totally use and abuse anything in your path including the locals, the other tourists, and the casinos itself.

And when Vegas kicks your ass, takes all your money, and puts you in your place... you can't get pissed. You can't sue Las Vegas. You were dumb enough to tackle on the darkside of human nature and lost. Man loses against nature every time they go to battle. What makes Las Vegas and you any different?

Pride makes you think you can beat The House. Pride lulls you into a false sense of security that your poker acumen far outweighs the short term luck that seems to be wedged up the assholes of the luckboxes on the Strip who suck out flush after flush on the river. Pride makes you think that you can move to Las Vegas and tame the wild beast by going pro. Eventually your pride gets you in enough trouble that you put that ugly fucker to sleep and you get your shit together and leave town.

Las Vegas is an awesome place to party, but it's one hellacious of a town to live in.

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Read the other installments...
Seven Deadly Sins Part I: Lust and Gluttony
Seven Deadly Sins Part II: Wrath
Seven Deadly Sins Part III: Greed and Sloth
Seven Deadly Sins Part IV: Envy

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