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Great Moments

Rolling with the Karma
Jeff Greenfield
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, Nov/Dec 00

(continued from page 1)

"You have to get in touch with your positive karma," she said. All those years of living in Santa Barbara had given Sandra a keen ear for the loonier aspects of the South Coast--so keen an ear, in fact, that it took me some time to understand that these sorts of comments were uttered tongue-in-cheek. "What you have to do, " she said, "is look around the room and then visualize the winning machine."  

"Right," I said. I lowered my eyelids and began intoning a barely audible "ommmnnn" as I glanced into the casino. Then I stopped, and pointed at a machine a few rows back. "That one," I said.  

"Now, you're sure," Sandra said.  

"Oh, yeah; I'm positive. That's the one."  

As we walked toward the machine, I tried to calculate how quickly I could lose the $50 I had budgeted for this wild fling. We hadn't eaten for a while, and the hotel's version of an "authentic" New York deli was just a short distance away. Visions of novy, eggs, and onions danced in my head (or maybe ham and eggs--it wasn't that authentic a New York deli).  

We reached the machine, pulled over two stools, and sat down. I began stroking the machine while whispering "hare Krishna." Then I dropped in two quarters (it was the maximum bet allowed--they don't call me Diamond Jeff for nothing).   The whirring stopped, and I looked at the pay line: two identical symbols with a different symbol alongside; the same symbol that adorned the front of the machine.  

"I think we won something," I said--a shrewd judgment confirmed by the sudden explosion of sound and light. It sounded a lot like one of those ambulances you hear racing through the streets of a Central European capital. I felt dozens of pairs of eyes rotate directly toward me, as I tried to calculate how we'd done.  

"I think we won...let's see it's 80 times 8--that's 640 quarters; all right, that's $160!"  

"No," said Sandra, who managed the finances of a major nonprofit institution in Santa Barbara. "It's 80 times 80; 6,400 quarters. Sixteen hundred dollars."  

Several moments later, a very large man came over, jotted down some notes, asked for my driver's license, and handed me a tax form to fill out. (Note: it takes a lot longer to collect your winnings at the slots than it does to lose your money; I think the casinos have figured out how to work the float at any hour of the day or night.)

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