Gamblers Anonymous

I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and on Thursdays and Saturdays.  While other kids were at science camp, I was at church camp, and while my classmates were at soccer practice, I was at choir rehearsal.  My parents made sure that the solid academic education that I received at school was supported by a strong spiritual foundation.  They protected me from anything that could be perceived as bad for me — the usual suspects:  sex, drugs, & rock ’n’ roll, and some others: bad boys, rap music, & playing cards.  Dominoes too.  

In our C.O.G.I.C. tradition, cards and dominoes were associated with gambling and casinos, and those were definite no-no’s for Christians (even though I could have sworn that I remember my church’s school hosting a raffle once).  As a result, I am a part of a small consortium of American adults that doesn’t know the difference between Spades & Texas Hold’em. (Note: I had to look up popular card games online cause the only one I could think of was Texas Hold’em.)

Today, however, I made a scary discovery about myself.  I realized that despite my parent’s attempts to protect me from all things evil, I have a serious gambling problem.  And if I were brave enough to mention this to my mother, surely her eyebrows would raise dubiously, eyes bulging like a bug-eyed tree frog’s, because I’ve never put one single coin into a single slot machine. Neither have I placed bets online, nor at the racetrack which is just a five-minute drive from my house.  The only bookies I’ve had contact with are the actors who play them on episodes of

Law & Order

, and the only times I’ve set foot in a casino have been to dance—salsa and Chicago stepping.

Never before did I consider myself a gambler. Now, however, I see that I gamble all of the time — weekly definitely, and daily often.  It’s almost always when I’m driving.  I eat while driving, drive & talk without an earpiece (if it runs out of juice), and sometimes even text when traffic is moving slowly.  (Oprah would be mad mad that I haven’t taken

the pledge

.)

Today, while driving, I realized that I had a problem. I grabbed an apple out of my bag, relieved to be able to curb the hunger that was attacking my stomach. Then I proceeded to start driving while eating. I was controlling the steering wheel with my left hand, while using my right hand (which is also my best hand) to hold the apple.  As apple juice ran down my chin, I realized that I had unintentionally and unarguably put myself and everyone else around me in danger. What if a car turned into my lane, unexpectedly? Or what if a kid ran right in front of my car, chasing a stray ball?  Although I might see them in time, I most likely wouldn’t be able to respond in time. How could I, with only one hand on the steering wheel ready to respond? To turn or swerve quickly, I would definitely need the right hand that had chosen to clutch that red apple.

This conversation ran in my mind, mid-transgression. I discarded it quickly, though, telling myself, “What are the chances? That won’t happen. And even if it did, you could respond in time.  You’d just have to drop the apple.”

I listened to myself. I was full of it. 

There would be no time to drop the apple because I would have just one second to respond, and it could be the difference between a car accident and a close call or maybe even the difference between life and death.

I didn’t want to hear it, though. I wanted to believe that I was the exception — that my life would have all sun and no rain. Surely I was immune to the stuff that other people had to endure. And surely I could talk, or eat, or apply make-up while driving (all legal, moral activities) without any major or life-altering complications.  I knew that I could.  If there was a rule, I was the exception.  And if there were odds, they were definitely in my favor.

So, I kept on driving. And eating.