Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hell's Bells

“What are you wearing?” I asked my brother, referring to our plans for Mother’s Day. “Shouldn’t we take it up a notch from our usual attire? We might end up in a restaurant.”
Joe is the kindest brother. Every year he takes me out on Mother’s Day, knowing that my son and his family live in Atlanta. In turn, I treat Joe on Father’s Day if he is available. Both of our parents have passed on.
All of these outings deliver us to the same place: a casino. We can talk it to death, but that’s the fact.
“What time do you want to go?” Joe asked. “I like the early morning, but I want to be able to stay a while.”
Here’s the thing about casinos: You might win or you might lose, thus the term gambling. Joe and I like to go early because it's not crowded. However, if luck isn’t with us, we can be heading home before most folks have their coffee.
“Don’t you need some sandals?” I asked. “We could go to the outlet mall later.” Translation:Let’s make a backup plan in case the casino thing doesn’t go well. I don’t want to sit home all afternoon on Mother’s Day.”
This year, as noted in yesterday’s blog post, we have a mission. The day isn’t all about me. Joe and I are going to remember our mom with a toast at a slot machine called Hell’s Bells. I’m going to suggest that we put twenty dollars in the machine. That was always Mom’s gambling limit.
She was a timid player, but one time she won over two hundred dollars. We had taken a bus trip to Canada. That was back when coins were used in the slots. Mom was playing a quarter machine called Black Tie. Suddenly it got loud, loud. Quarters started pouring into the coin tray and Mom sat back, stunned at her winnings. That was fun.
The same morning I had been awake around 5:00 a.m. I looked over at Mom in the other bed and could tell that she was still sleeping. What was I going to do, stare at the ceiling? I silently dressed, left our hotel room, and headed to the gambling boat in the dark. When I next saw Mom, she let me know in no uncertain terms that I had scared her half to death when I’d vacated my bed without telling her. I don’t remember her tirade exactly, but I’d bet twenty dollars that “Hell’s bells” was part of it.
See? I was probably in my fifties and Mom was looking out for me--or trying to when I didn’t give her the slip. Thanks, Mom.
It’s time to get ready for my Mother’s Day outing. Joe will be picking me up soon. Something tells me this Hell's Bells thing will become a tradition.

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