Having to spend an evening in Detroit brought upon me a sense of heavy, albeit not overwhelming, dread. Fattest, most crime ridden city in the country. Shitty economy. Dammit.
A Detroitian I had been meeting with said, "Well, there is a bunch of things you could try. For example...blah, blah, blah...and then, there are always the casinos, if that is your
sort of thing."
You just spoke to me. "I dunno. Didn't bring enough cash."
Which was right. But, that didn't stop me from hitting the ATM machine in the lobby of the Renaissance Marriott. $200 should be more than enough. Then, I was on my way to the creatively named People Mover to take me to the casinos.
Have you ever been to the Renaissance Center. A bizarre, poorly laid out monstrosity. I felt like I was in that scene in Spinal Tap where the band was fired up, but couldn't find the stage. I finally found it, and it took all of two minutes to get to the Greektown Casino.
I spent the first half hour wandering the place. It wasn't terrible big, and most of the people were zombies. Saw at least two people tooling around with oxygen tanks. And, yes Detroit was fat.
I sat down at a $10 minimum blackjack table, and and bought $200 in chips.
"Yeah, a Heineken."
She came back $40 dollars in losses later. "That will be four dollars."
Are you fucking kidding me? You have to actually pay for booze when you are gambling. I handed her a $5 chip and turned back to my losing. I was tapped out in all of 58 minutes.
And, I was out $10 on beers. At a casino. While gambling.
I went to a bar to grab another beer and have a cigarette. I bought another Heineken (somehow drinking those made me feel sophisticated at this joint). The bartender got me one and said, "Good luck." There were video poker machines at every chair at the bar. I felt obligated and plopped $20 into the thing. I was done in five minutes.
"Another one?" the bartender asked.
I still had half a bottle left. "Yes."
I lit up another cigarette and scanned the room. Bartender came back, plopped down another beer. "So, how's it going," she said pointing to the video poker machine.
"I lost enough on it." I pulled out my cell phone and was then forced to make an ill-advised call.
Four beers formed a chorus emploring me to go to the cash machine. Stupid, stupid me. $300 in cash in my pocket, I went back to the tables. The $15 minimum table.
I was in the first chair. I went in in $100 increments. The first $100 went in 15 minutes. The second $100 in 30 more. Then, something started to happen. It all started to turn. I started playing $50 and $75 hands. Blackjack, 20s, everything hitting.
And, the people at the table seemed more interesting. The guy on my left was clearly jealous. He kept looking at my stack of black ($100) and green ($25) chips, then trying to match my bets ($50 or $75). He was out by 10:30.
To his left was a cute girl, maybe 20, who was dressed a little older than her years. She was playing the minimum and seemed statiated by the minor ups and downs of doing that. To her left were two loud Arab guys, who chain-smoked, drank water only, and cursed in Arabic, English and a couple of other languages that surprised me. At the end was a weather forty year old women with bleached blond hair and bad teeth. We were a family.
Things got so good that I bet $5 for Susan, the dealer, almost every hand. I kept winning. I must have ended up tipping Susan (and Johnny who spelled her for an hour at some point) $100. I even apologized to her when I pulled a bad hand. "It's alright, baby, we'll get it next time." And usually we did.
I stopped caring about the $4 per Heineken, and was tipping $6 on each. I must have seemed like the classistest cat in Detroit to her. That is what 6 Heinekens was telling me.
I am not quite sure how far up I got. Definitely had over $1000 at one point. The table started to thin until it was me and the young girl left at the table.
I was betting $100 a hand at this point, and it was going bad, bad, bad.
"The deck's gone bad, baby. Stop now," Susan whispered to me.
I ignored her the first time, lost another $100 and said, "Susan, as always, you are right."
"You still up?"
"A bunch. I'd buy all of us a round, but since you are on duty still...you up for it?" I asked the youngish girl.
"Why not, I don't have to be up early tomorrow."
That makes one of us. I had my alarm set for 7, and it was 12:30.
We went to one of the two or three depressing bars in the joint. I stuck with beer.
"A Belvedere martini. With a twist." She didn't strike me as a martini girl.
"So," I said,"if you don't mind my asking. How old are you?"
"Twenty-four. People all think I look sixteen, though."
"Well, my money was on 19, so I feel better about...uh."
"What?" she said with her mouth agape. She had an unusually large mouth. If she could unhinge her jaws, I could imagine her swallowing a guinea pig.
"What's you name?"
"Amber. Dutch, right?"
"How'd you know?" She was pretty. Long brown hair. Maybe Latina, Mediterraean, the name notwithstanding. Tall, too. In her heels, she came to my 5'10" eye level.
"You had quite the thing going with Susan," she said smiling.
"Yeah, I guess we were on a first name basis. Frankly, Susan gave me more than any woman has ever given me. How could I not fall for her?" Susan was short and fat, but she did have a nice smile. I took out my Camel Lights and offered her one. She took the first drag slowly, savoring it. The smoke dribbled out evenenly from her lips. She'd turned on the maturity thing.
"So, Dutch, what has you in Detroit?"
"I don't like to talk about work when I'm out."
"You sound like a cop. Cop? Agent?"
"I am just out having a beer with a new friend. And it looks like I need another. You?"
"Sure." The bartender must have overheard us; she was already starting the martini as I turned to get her.
"What about you?"
"Nursing student. Wayne State."
"Yeah. Today was rough," she said leaning in to me.
"How?" I put my arm on the bar, and my chin in my palm.
"We were learning anatomy. Using cadavers. The lungs were especially disgusting," she said putting out her cigarette.
"I've probably made mince meat of my innards. Partying, smoking. I'd only be good as a cadaver for a pathologists course."
She laughed. I was officially drunkish, and was starting to seem wonderful.
"I gotta get up early tomorrow."
"I should head home too," she said.
"Share a cab?"
"Yeah, that would be great."
We grabbed a cab. It was a real short ride to my hotel.
"I really don't feel like going home."
"Come on," I said taking her hand and leading her out the passenger side of the cab.