Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll celebrates as THE COLUMN TURNS 7. She writes:

Well, here we are again, friends. I cannot believe that I just completed my SEVENTH year visiting with you all every Friday. Seven is quite a significant number, alleged to be lucky in a casino’s slot machine (more anon).

It is an important number Biblically. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh; Jacob served Laban seven years to earn his beloved bride, Rachel, and found that his father-in-law had subbed in Rachel’s sister, Leah, a fact that might have flattened a lesser man’s ardor, but Jacob served for another seven years. It’s an odd story and I always felt sorry for everybody involved, perhaps most for Leah who must have had “self-esteem issues,” if not PTSD at being a stopgap measure until her husband got the wife he really wanted.

Of course, the rabbis, scholars and sages have a much more positive spin on it, being God’s will and all, and Leah birthing fully HALF of the sons who would form the Twelve Tribes of Israel. I still would have hated to have my husband lift the veil and see that disappointed look on his face when I’d say, “SURPRISE! Guess who this ISN’T?”

On the downside of the Number Seven, supposedly that is a marriage milestone when couples get an “itch” to stray, the famous Seven Year Itch, promoted in a movie of the same name, starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. And what woman would not want to be off on a little breather to escape the heat of the city and have a 22-year-old Marilyn Monroe move into the apartment upstairs from your 46-year-old husband who is temporarily “batching it”? (In truth, the character she played was supposed to be 22; the real-life Marilyn was an “old hag” of 29, which I’m sure would have made a substantial difference. Not.)

Most of us not only trust our beloved husbands implicitly, but probably feel we could compete with most run-of-the-mill other ladies. But Marilyn Monroe in her prime? The Marilyn Monroe with her skirt aflutter over the air vent in the money shot for the movie? Goodness gracious, it would be like leaving me in a room with a box of a dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts after a month on KETO. Oh, the humanity!

Let me tell you about my slot machine experience. I had been booked for two different shows for the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep – seriously – at their annual convention in Reno. And, no, none of my punchlines were along the lines of “That’s Black Bart’s girl…”, funny though that genre of jokes is. These were serious hunters who paid thousands of dollars to be in a lottery to have the CHANCE to shoot at those curly-horned wild sheep. One fella had spent $100,000 to hunt with guides in the Former Soviet Union. At the time, that was roughly twice what I had spent on the house I lived in for 30 years.

I was going to be spending three whole days in the casino hotel and had budgeted the modest sum of $40.00 a day (in late ’80s dollars) to put into the slot machines in lieu of simply throwing it down a sewer grate. And I bet the slot devotees can guess right now how it’s going to go. So, the first day, my $40.00 disappeared in the quarter slots in less than an hour. Quelle disappointing! That would have left an awful lot of time in the day before the breakfast show the next morning to find something else to do. And so, I reasoned, why not spend $80.00 the first day and then skip a day? (Ah, the “Bargaining” phase of the addict begins.) The second $40.00 took quite a lot longer to evaporate and was kind of fun – win some, lose a little, win some more. I think I was actually “up” at least $70.00, almost back to “break even.” So, of course, I was “hot” and couldn’t quit right then.

No. I waited until I had dribbled away all of my winnings. Now, I was so depressed I reasoned that I may as well use the last $40.00 and then just sit in my room and read for 3 days. I mean, that machine HAD to have a big payoff soon, right?

Eventually I was down to my last 5 quarters. All in. The drum spun and up came one, two, three sevens! The pay-off was $125 — 500 quarters — making quite a jolly clatter. Now the real true gambler would at that point tell his friends that he had “won” $125. But, unfortunately, I can do Math. So I knew that I had played for the better part of an entire day and had spent $120 to get $125. In other words, I had won $5.00. I would have been richer working a shift at McDonald’s, with some free fries thrown in. I cashed in my chips, pocketed my $5.00, plus my original $120 and got out of there as fast as my short little legs could carry me.

Once, in Tahoe, I watched a curvaceous young lady win a Large-sized movie popcorn bucket full of $5.00 tokens. She was playing on money her sugar daddy had given her so she acted much more nonchalant than I would have. It broke my heart to watch her throw it all back in the machine until her great big bucket was empty. I wanted to shake her and scream, “You had won! This was full to the brim. That’s called ‘winning.’ How much more did you even THINK you were going to win under the best of circumstances?!” Which is probably just one of many reasons why I don’t work in a casino, another being that I cannot walk in high heels.

But what is mere filthy lucre compared to the jackpot I landed with the gift of a platform once a week to entertain, buck up, reminisce with, and rant at my fellow Americans? The famous novelist Max Cossack knows better than to expect much in the way of housework or errands because “Friday is MY day” to engage with my commenters, to learn, laugh and share. I do, naturally, make challah for Sabbath and prepare a nice dinner but that’s about it.

You, the readers, bring me more joy than you will ever know. Additionally, I have gotten to meet and know, either in person or on-line, a variety of impressive human beings. You know who you are. Our four hard-working hosts here, without whom none of this would be possible, are smart and know a great deal about a wide variety of things. But it never ceases to amaze me how the collective commentariat gathered here can weigh in on virtually any subject and deepen and broaden the discussion. Lawyers, doctors, lawyering truck-drivers, military folks, astronauts, teachers, EMTs, law enforcement, writers, seamstresses, veterinarians, and a whole bunch of people who really did Learn to Code. Pick a subject, and somebody will know a ton about it, no matter how arcane or specialized. What a country!

This last year has been so depressing and stressful that I never did release the compilation book for year 6. But it’s done now, as well as year seven! We will be releasing the year 6 book (Ammo Grrrll Reloads) in early June, after we return from a long road trip, and year 7 (Ammo Grrrll Gets Shot) in mid-September in time for holiday gift-giving. Both will include attractive discounts! So thanks for all the gracious, hilarious and generous comments and stay tuned for the upcoming book releases. May you all stay healthy and go from strength to strength. Onward to Year Eight! Onward to Herd Immunity!