The Casino Story

April 5, 2013

By michelle (April, 2013) – 1,250 words – I’ll record it for the Talking People podcast when I find some time! (EDITED AT 1:11 April 5 to fix stuff)

Today in class I told a story that suddenly my memory brought back to me! I have to say I was not totally accurate, so that’s why I’ve decided to write it down – so you can get the Complete True Casino Story!

When I was a college student I had become independent. I shared a flat with two other people. One was an older friend of mine – a misfit just like me! — and the other a young business man who smoked dope non-stop and loved a Spanish singer that I hated! 😀 All of my other friends lived with their parents, so our rented flat was very much booked for all kinds of events, and populated by all kinds of people!

Those were wild days, really. Not like people imagine “wild” – I just mean, days full of youthful ideas and actions! I used to paint my forehead instead of my eyes, with stars and planets or with a tree! I used to walk barefoot and wear all kinds of clothes, from African tunics to a leather jacket! I used to host people who needed a house for a few days, pay everybody’s drinks, organize poker games (we played with “duros”, 5 peseta coins, and “cinco duros”, 25 ptas.) and give away books. I used to walk in the city night and talk to people I met, and I met a lot of very special people. I also had all kinds of friends – friends from my mum’s neighborhood, and from college, from left-wing political parties and from the right-wing, believers, non-believers, cheerful people, depressive people, rich people, homeless people!

One day I was meeting my friend K., her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s best friend. After our last meet up, we wanted to find a new hang-out spot, because in our usual place we had got poisoned for eating river crabs! (And what a night that was!) So that afternoon we went to a different area and walked into an extremely crowded and noisy and smoky pub because it had good music – jazz & blues – and a pool table. After a few beers and a few games, I had to go to the toilet. The Beer Emergency, you know. So that was that!

As I was squatting and aiming my pee flow, next to my right foot I spotted a wad of notes! A WAD of MONEY NOTES! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Once out, we flocked together and counted the money excitedly: 80,000 pesetas! Nowadays that is 500 euros. I wouldn’t be able to pay my monthly rent, which is 1,200 euros. (By the way, my salary is 1,900 euros after 15 years in public education. Regardless of what ordinary people think, this salary is not much for all the qualifications and work we are required to do. Which doesn‘t mean I’m not happy. I know I could earn more in many other places, but it’s the public service I’m interested in! Anyway!) However, in the 1980s, 80.000 pesetas was Big Money! At the time, the rent of the house we lived in was 24,000 pesetas. We just paid a third each, which, plus shared expenses, was like 10,000 pesetas a month. At that time I earned 100,000 pesetas a month for eight months and managed to get by the rest of the months without having to find another job. I was earning a living teaching English in private language schools. Considering the figures I just mentioned, I’m getting vertigo just thinking of inflation! Aren’t you?

Going back to my story, I had found enough money to pay my rent for 8 months! But those were sweet times in terms of finding jobs. I used to find a job whenever I needed money, so I was carefree. On top of that, I was young and eager to experience things. So this is what happened with the money.

We were really excited about the wad of banknotes and started making wild proposals on how to spend it! It didn’t cross my mind to give it to homeless people, because it all felt so merry and so unreal! It was all like a joke, until someone said: “We could go to the Casino!” It was on!!! Never in a million years would we have dreamed of being able to go to the casino TO GAMBLE!! So that’s what we did! We rushed to my house to borrow the business man’s car and then drove to the Casino. We were allowed in, which amazed me – I was sure I wouldn’t be allowed in – because we were wearing our usual clothes! I actually looked like a hippy. The two boys were wearing casual clothes, and my friend looked a little bit better. She actually made up and wore rings and bracelets. We were an odd-looking gang, and there we were!

I can’t remember all we did. I mostly remember the feeling it was all intensely exciting. But I do remember a scene or two. I remember our friends, the men, playing Black Jack and winning. And I remember my friend K and I spending our wads in different kinds of games. Then I remember the boys giving us their winnings. Apparently, they thought we were putting it away, keeping it safe! Instead, we ran joyfully to the roulette, to lose it all in a second! So we went again to our friends, and they kept winning and passing us the money they had won, and we kept betting and losing! Obviously, our intention was to become rich, but the roulette was fast as lightning and had no mercy on us!

After tons of gambling and after having the hell of a time, which included some flamenco dancing in the spectacular toilets, meeting and talking to weird people and giving a hard time to some waiters, the boys came up to us and said:

–Let’s go and have dinner at the Ritz Hotel!

K and I looked at each other, “Did you win more?”

–More? We have won enough to buy a meal for 4 over there! You’ve got the money, haven’t you?

–Well… we did have it! We lost it all at the roulette! But it was fun!

“What?!” Well, they got really upset, but they couldn’t show it too much because the fact was that I could have kept the money for myself after finding it.

K and her boyfriend split up some days later. They had issues. He was constantly feeling threatened by our friendship, by her friendship to other people, too, to anyone! He was so jealous of everything she shared, instead of feeling happy for her.

So here was the inaccuracy in my story today in class: it’s not both of us lost our boyfriends after that! I just said that to make it shorter and to make you laugh. At that time, I would have never ever had a boyfriend. I just wanted to have lovers. I didn’t want to start up a monogamous relationship – it felt suffocating. I had just left my mum’s house and I wanted to live my life, and travel!

In any case, I’m quite sure that if any of the other three people who I spent that day with doing fun things were asked about this night out today, they would probably smile and have a very good memory because we did have great fun!

It’s true nowadays I would not spend any money in a casino. That was my first and last time in one. The world around casinos is an underworld, full of crime (today very much protected by democratic governments behind the facade of “fighting the crisis” — puke, puke, puke!), tragedy and abuse, even if “ordinary” people might go there and just have a drink and a laugh, like we did when we were young.

Today I would probably give the money to homeless people, or keep it for my old age. But the best and the worst things about youth is that — the tons of mistakes you make!


  1. You should write them all down! It could be your textbook! 😀

  2. Hiya, Dakotita!!

    😀 There’s an idea!

    Big hug, and thanks for all that digging!

  3. […] three I’ve actually written so far are: Asking Questions in Church, Dishwashers, and The Casino Story. But for publication I might work on them a bit […]

  4. […] that came up in class! (From this year, I have Language Misperceptions, Don’t Buy Exams, and The Casino Story… I’ll review these and see if I remember more… If you do, let me know!) I don’t […]

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