Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Conclusion!" - The Bahamas Experience, Part VII

Saturday morning presented itself as a calmer and sunnier version of Friday. Following breakfast, P.O.D., fully suffering from the effects of his head cold, and I packed our beach gear – sunscreen, books, sunglasses – the usual accoutrement - and headed to breakfast and then to our “secret spot” at the Sheraton pool. It was wonderful. Warm sun and not as much wind. We read and sunned ourselves until lunchtime.

After lunch we had plotted our course to the Queen’s Staircase (we were told a “must see” for anyone staying in Nassau) and Fort Charlotte. Dinner was to be at CafĂ© Matisse, a very well-to-do restaurant. P.O.D. has an obsession with gnocchi and we were informed that the best gnocchi this side of Italy could be found here. Tonight was to be our final night and we wanted to share a romantic meal and cap this adventure off on a good note.

However, P.O.D. was miserable. He was wiped out from his virus and really just wanted to nap. I was restless and really just wanted to get out of the hotel. So, a mutual decision was made that he would sleep it off in the hotel room for the afternoon and I would find my own fun.

After tucking him in and heading downstairs. With $40 in my pocket, I headed to the two straw markets across the street and picked up a few locally handcrafted items and took a leisurely stroll through the area just across the road from our hotel. Glancing at my watch, I realized that I still had about 2 hours before I would return to the room. I was cautious about getting too far away from the safety of our hotel’s neighborhood, so I decided to head back to the hotel and try my luck with the “one-arm bandits”. Not one to gamble too much (I figured I had already done enough gambling on this trip, already)…I took and additional $40 out of my checking account via an ATM and determined that when it was gone….it was gone.

Now, you have to understand how I am about selecting a slot machine on which I play. I stalk the casino floor and wait until I feel a vibe coming from one of them that drags me in. This has only proven successful to me once or twice in my life, but I certainly had the time and I really didn’t want to lose $40 of my hard-earned cash. So I stalked. I had decided that a quarter machine was about as “rich” as I would go because I needed to make my 40 bucks last at least an hour or better. I preyed upon what seemed to be the weakest member of the slot machine pack and planted myself in front of my “victim”, a “Lucky 7’s” machine who “felt” like it was ready to hit.

I fed it a $20 bill. 80 credits and I was ready to begin. I learned some time ago that you always select “MAX BET”, which means you bet 3 quarters, or 75 cents. This way, if you hit a “pay line”, you get three times, or maximum, the payout.

I pushed “MAX BET”. I got a two credit pay out. Again. Another two credit pay out. Over and over, I pressed the “MAX BET” button. Sometimes it would pay a few credits, sometimes not. But I had a good feeling about this machine.

When my credit level was at 60, I hit. 1,000 credits - $250! I had only invested $5. I couldn’t believe it! I sat with a “cat who ate the canary” grin on my face while my credits added up, dinging steadily for the next couple of minutes. I looked around thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe I “hit”. I rarely ever win. And now I was watching my credit total adding up before my eyes.

I pressed “MAX BET” again. A few flirts with pay outs. I was not going to let my total get below 1,000. Then, at 1,020….I hit again. Another 1,000 credits! Then another 100 credits.

My total waxed and waned until I decided that at 2,144 credits (or $536), I was going to call it quits. My machine had given it up for me and I was grateful. I printed out my winnings receipt and took it to the pay out machine (like an ATM but the cash is "free" - what a brilliant idea!), a silly grin spread across my face the whole time. I had to count my cash two or three times so that it felt real. Five one-hundred dollar bills, a twenty, a ten, a five, and a one dollar bill. Take the original $20 investment out of the winnings and I had a total booty of $516 of winnings. My biggest “take” ever.

I took a walk, still dazed and confused but smiling like a complete "goob".

One hour and a half left before I wanted to return to the room. I enjoyed some time at the beach, reflecting on the past few days and years of my life, the sun warming my shoulders. Then I gathered myself up and took a slow, yet celebratory walk back to my hotel room, stopping for an ice cream at the hotel cafeteria. Rum Raisin….and it was so good.

Upon my return to the hotel room, P.O.D. and I celebrated my good fortune – a bit of my own legal piracy in the Bahamas. I handed over the winnings and told him to apply it toward our travel expenses – we had accrued a few more expenses than originally anticipated – and we readied ourselves for what would be a wonderful meal and a wonderful end to our “Bahamas Experience”.

Our trips home proved to be relatively uneventful and we were grateful for an experience which would not only test our mettle as a couple but it taught us that even though things did not go as planned, we were able to improvise and enjoy a few small joys along the way.

There is beauty and wonder in everything that happens to us – both the good and bad. Life doesn’t always go as planned but it is how you deal with the curve balls that prove who you are as a person. And it is often the little things like an unexpected dance, a good bottle of wine, a little windfall, gnocchi, or a dish of Rum Raisin ice cream that lets you know that…well….everything is going to be okay after all.

If you are willing to look long enough, a silver lining to each cloud will always present itself. Or maybe…..no matter how bad it gets…..you can always find a little ice cream.

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