A number of years ago, a short-term business partner of mine with a knack for sales said he was amazed by the lengths I was willing to go to avoid regular employment. I thanked him and smiled. His expression showed both admiration and fear. Not too much later, he departed in search of a better income. I hope he found it.

One evening he and I and another short-term business partner, who was and still is a good friend of mine, were sitting in a noisy, smoke-filled tavern discussing our current financial dilemma. It was a Friday, and the place was crowded with blabbing people, the relieved survivors of another work-week. The pool tables were busy, the jukebox was blaring, and the deep-fryer was spattering. In a defiantly agitated outburst, I insisted that we should take our entire cash holdings, which was a pitiful amount even by generously optimistic standards, to one of the gambling palaces in Reno, Nevada, and lay it all on the line, thereby solving our situation one way or the other.

I could tell by the others� faces that they knew I wasn�t kidding, and that all either one of them had to do was agree to the idea and we would be off on a wild adventure. It almost happened. But we weren�t quite drunk enough to be able to ignore the potential consequences of such a bold act. Instead, we talked, and we laughed, and made private, unuttered excuses. We had a great time, a relaxing time, though I still wish we would have gone. Of course, Reno was many hours away and we might not have made it that far. Or, we might have struck it rich while we were there, or never have made it back, or both.

But the evening was far from a bust. Not only did we have a fine time, it occurred to me while I was ranting and raving like an idiot that what I should really be doing was writing. The revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. And then I realized I was writing, even as I sat there shouting at our beer-stained table. I was paying close attention to everything that was going on in me and around me, as a completely detached observer. Naturally, I said nothing about this to the others. The slightest mention of it would have brought my state of awareness to an abrupt end, and also put a damper on the evening.

Now, this reminds me of another trip to Reno, except that this one was really to Lake Tahoe, and it actually happened. Bored by excessive small talk one Saturday evening during a backyard family gathering at my childhood home in the San Joaquin Valley, after a brief private conference with my two cousins, I announced to the gathering that the three of us were leaving for Lake Tahoe immediately, and that we would be back sometime the following morning. Our grandfather thought this was absolutely ridiculous. He didn�t approve of the idea of driving five hours in the middle of the night just to do a little gambling. Many times, I had heard him tell the story about the time he went to a carnival as a kid and lost a dime in some sort of game, and how that one event had cured him of gambling forever. Luckily for us, he didn�t remember the story that evening. When he realized we were going anyway, he said to the group, �Don�t worry, they�ll learn.�

And he was right. We learned that we should have been making such trips all along, rather than saving our tires and waiting for the proper alignment of the stars. After five hours of high-speed driving and wonderful conversation, we were in Lake Tahoe pouring our money into slot machines and having the time of our lives. We didn�t stay very long, just a couple of hours. But when we left, I had thirty-five dollars more than I had when I started. More important, after another five hours of driving, we returned to Fresno far better acquainted than we would have been had we stayed home and swatted mosquitos.

None of us have forgotten that trip. As it turned out, we three cousins haven�t seen much of each other since then. I moved to Oregon, one cousin moved to the East Coast, and the other has lived in the Bay Area and L.A., and perhaps one or two other places I don�t know about.

So what does it all mean? I haven�t the slightest idea � especially since I am just as fond of staying home as I am of sitting in bars and making impromptu gambling trips. Actually, I haven�t been in a bar for quite some time. Gambling, though, I do all the time. My life is a gamble. And so consequently, I no longer feel the need to visit casinos. But maybe I should. Maybe I could gamble myself into the black. At the very least, I could spend the time watching myself and others lose, and then write about it later.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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