By Choklatmlk (Choklatmlk@aol.com)
December 29, 1997
A dear friend of mine just accomplished his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant. Imagine my enthusiasm to go out and visit him on his first night of business. What a thrill! Red wine, delicious food, tasty desserts and... slot machines? Oh yes, didn't I mention it? My friend just opened up his restaurant in Las Vegas.
Much to my amazement there is a whole other side to this desert city where people live, work and play, just like regular folks. And they do it without doubling down on an 8/3 card combination with the dealer holding a five of hearts face up. The problem for me was that I love to hit the casinos. Many times I have made that weekend run to Vegas for a couple of eighteen-hour blackjack games where I came home blurry eyed, unshaven and usually a few-too-many buck-a-roos lighter in the wallet than I planned. But that was before Foolishness.
So this trip I decided to substitute my newfound Folly for my older, folly-filled ways. I decided not to gamble. (A golden rule of Fools.) But just because I decided not to gamble doesn't mean I didn't go along to the casino with everyone else after a very wonderful meal. And though I tried to extol the virtues I have recently learned, my friends were all too Wise to listen.
It's not their fault really. All I could offer them was the chance to make a few million dollars over the course of a few decades. At the casinos they were offered the chance to make just as much in a matter of hours. Plus, the casinos offered free cocktails and lots of fancy chips. All I could give them was four simple blue chips -- no drinks. The casinos promised hours and hours of roller-coaster thrills. I only offered about fifteen minutes of not very exciting rotations once every year. They had dice and cards and spinning wheels. I had out-of-favor Dow industrials. They had speed and flash. I had slowness and patience. They had jackpots. I had compounding. As you can see, it was clearly no contest. I was overmatched.
Now don't get me wrong, I love the flash and the speed and the spinning wheels with sirens that announce to the whole world "Here's a millionaire!" But strangely enough, none of my friends became millionaires. As a matter of fact, none of them became anything at all except a bit melancholy. I heard stories about people who put a quarter in the machine and won gazillions of dollars, but as I looked around, all I saw was a lot of folks going to the ATM. My friends, who once had rows and rows of multi-colored chips were now holding nothing. Me, I still had those same four blue chips I entered the place with. Quite boring. But sturdy indeed.
When we finally went back to my friend's restaurant I decided to treat everyone to a late round of coffee and dessert. My friend, the restaurant owner, had already treated us to dinner and I was feeling Foolishly generous. After all, I still had those blue chips and Wise or not, they are my friends.