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Absolutely wonderful. At the age of nineteen, in 1966, I moved to Lake Tahoe, NV with a lover and obtained a job at Barney’s Casino, in the office, where I had to undergo a massive FBI check, fingerprints and all, mugshots, and go up the back stairs to the office because I wasn’t allowed to walk through the casino to work. Of course, next door and across the street were Harrah’s and Harvey’s, and when I got off work at 6am after counting the old punchcards that used to spit out from the slot machines, talleying countless things, etc., in an office whose walls were covered with various coin-type things people had put into the slot machines trying to get away with theft, I went directly to one of the other casinos, where they thought I must be over 21, and I would sit down at the blackjack table with my $2 bet. If I won, I told myself, I could stay. If I lost, I had to go home to my brutal boyfriend and get beat up. I usually won, until one morning I won too much, and they busted me when I tried to cash in my huge winnings. During that time, the union organizers were in town, trying to organize a casino workers’ union, and a bomb blew out one of the top floors of the casino, and one of the men involved was found in the Lake in his Cadillac. Then winter hit, and my boyfriend had a new love, and I left Lake Tahoe forever. What I remember best is that, at 6am the same people who had been sitting there at the tables, when I had come into work at 10pm the night before were still there, drinking their free drinks and giving their money away, and having a terrific time. That six months cured me forever. Years later, in Marina del Rey, another boyfriend took me, strictly as an female observant, to a secret backgammon game where the minimum bet was $1,000 per point (up to $64,000 per point, if the doubling cube went all the way). I was terrified, and broke up with him soon after that. But you know, after all of that, sometimes the gamble is worth it, and you just have to take the leap of faith, especially in love. Winning is never a given, only an attractive possibility.

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