Every baptism weekend itinerary for out-of-town-guests should include a romp through a casino. In fact, it should be a mandatory perk if you are serving as the godmother. I’ve come to this conclusion after I agreed to fly 4 ½ hours to Detroit for my nephew’s baptism on Saturday. When I arrived, with the dried residue from the fear of flying still clinging to my face and armpits, I was just looking forward to knocking back a few beers with my brother, attending the service with his family the next day, and then maybe leaving with a thoughtful gift bag filled with soaps and candles. However, my brother tossed the gift bag idea aside and replaced it with something better: He told me he was taking me to the MGM Grand Casino and we were going to gamble a very modest amount of his doctor’s salary away. Woohoo!
Soon, I was imagining glittering lobbies filled with spikey heeled, well-coiffed patrons. Then, the panic set in: I was wearing yoga pants, which I had most likely snagged on a tray table or two when I got up to use the bathroom on the airplane. So, not only were threads just hanging precariously from the seams, but these pants also most likely carried that “airplane seat smell,” which is a delicate mixture of gasoline/fuel and funk. Sure, I had a dress packed for the baptism ceremony the next day, but I didn’t feel like changing into it—or unpacking.
“Here’s the thing,” I told my brother. “I forgot to pack my sequined mini-skirt. Would they even let me into the casino looking like this?”
“Trust me. You’ll be fine,” he said.
Then, he asked the valet at the hotel to pull his car around—and the car was a Maserati SUV. Though I was extremely happy that my little brother was doing well and enjoying life, I got nervous again. People expect glamorous things when the door of the Maserati opens and someone gets out. They’re not expecting a bedraggled woman wearing ragged yoga pants, running shoes, and a red checkered shirt, which is still long enough to cover the back side of the yoga pants, especially if that woman makes sure to pull it down every time she sits, stands, walks, and breathes.
Soon though, the tensions melted away as my brother played his favorite reggae, hip-hop, and rap songs. There was quite a variety from several different decades and he introduced me to new bands as well, so my time spent in the Maserati was productive, I believe. In fact, I’m now trying to convince Nate that a Maserati SUV is an investment in one’s education.
In just 25 minutes, we arrived at the casino and my stomach started churning when I saw the well-dressed valets and gleaming busts of roaring lions attached to white-granite walls that just glistened in the setting sun.
“Isn’t there a dungeon we can park in?” I asked my brother.
“Nope—this is how we do it.”
And my, the treatment! The valets immediately called us “the best couple” and said that the “king and queen” had arrived. I wanted to blurt out, “He’s my brother!” but I decided that could make things weirder, so we settled on an awkward laugh, because that’s what brother-sister-couples do.
Once inside though, I had no reason to worry. Lots of people from all walks of life gamble in casinos. Some wear slick and shiny outfits, but most just wear “normal” clothes and they look like they’ve been there all day. The casino also seems to be the last refuge in the word for smokers—and I saw something I haven’t seen in years: ashtrays. Within seconds my lungs were burning. Luckily, I was distracted by all of the blinking lights from the hundreds (?) of slot machines—flashing out their candy-colored signals and all I had to do was decide which one was best. My brother assured me we could try as many as we wanted.
“I like to find one that has some banter to it,” he told me.
I nodded like I understood what this meant, but I really didn’t. I could have just asked, but I decided I’d have some fun trying to guess the meaning by “bantering” with a slot machine on my own. I found a particularly shiny slot machine called “Lucky Dragon” and when I put my money in and placed my bet, I talked to it.
“You’re the prettiest one here,” I said to the slot machine.
“Thank you. Here’s $8,” it replied.
“Hey! I think you found a lucky one,” my brother told me. “Keep going.”
“You’re also the smartest,” I said to the machine.
“Nice. Here’s $12,” it said.
Then, I was out of compliments. What else would a slot machine want to be told? So, I started over with “pretty” again and started losing money fast. Eventually, we made it to the “Shark Week” machine, a “Munster’s” machine, “The Wheel of Fortune,” an “Alfred Hitchcock” machine, and several more. My brother also showed me how to play roulette, which basically consists of picking lucky numbers and placing bets that are decided upon by the gaming dealer. I forget how much money we lost there, but we still had enough left over to play a few more slot machines. Eventually, I cashed out at 29¢ and my brother called it a day when he was left with .01¢. So, it took us just a little over two hours to end up with about 30¢. As you can see, we wasted very little time. There were still plenty of hours left in the day to include other things in the baptism itinerary, but this godmother was spent.
Here’s what I learned though, if you are planning a baptism and including out-of-town (21-or-older) guests:
1) Feel free to shower your guests with gift bags/pictures of the baby, but also driving them to casinos is a good idea too.
2) At the casino, wear anything you want. No one cares.
3) Set a budget for how much you will spend/lose at the casino.
4) You could try to “banter” with the slot machines by paying them compliments, but that doesn’t always work. You could also just try good luck charms, crystals, or learning math/statistics, but wouldn’t all of the math teachers out there be super rich by now if that really worked?
5) Keep the pace moving so that you can include other outside-of-the-box activities like circus lessons, cat facials, and pogo-stick parkour.
The Real Lesson Learned: I’m so grateful that there are people on my side of the family—and on Nate’s side of the family—who find me competent and responsible enough to serve as a godmother for their children. Thank you for trusting me with your children’s spiritual lives. I must run off now to my pole dance fitness class for beginners. (With enough prayers, I’ll be in the advanced class; I just know it!)
Your Turn: Have you ever been to a casino to gamble? What was your experience? Or, have you ever performed a special role in a ceremony, such as a christening or a wedding?