About a week ago, I drove up to the beautiful podunk town of Fall River Mills with esteemed companion Dustin and his bandmate Zach. Two hours into the drive, we had just passed the exotic town of Orland, and our hunger was beginning to get the best of us. We began to debate potential dining locations, with the favorites being legendary Red Bluff diner, The Feedbag, and a shockingly-racist, possibly-imaginary Chinese restaurant possibly called "Mr. Steamy's". But before we got to Red Bluff, fate intervened.
Dustin switched rado stations, and we heard the unmistakable strains of "The Gambler", by Kenny Rogers. Instantly, Kenny had us under his spell, and we were transported into that train, with the gambler, and the whiskey, and surprisingly, a fair amount of sexual tension. We knew from previous listens that when the night gets deathly quiet, that simply means that the gambler is preparing to dispense some valuable lessons about life/poker, but as Dustin pointed out, "It sounds like Kenny and the Gambler are about to get it on."
Thankfully, before we could further intellectualize the homoerotic subtext of the song, an omen appeared, in the form of the Rolling Hills Casino. This was no time to walk away, much less run. Kenny had spoken to us. We had to get off the freeway and get into that casino, and try our luck against the dealers of the Nomlaki Indians. Also, they had what we hoped was a reasonable buffet.
Twenty minutes later we left the casino, collectively up a whopping $115. Since we exclusively played blackjack, we never confronted the classic hold/fold them conundrum, but counting cards makes it a lot easier to determine the best time to walk away. (A sign near the smoking area expressly prohibited running.) We also counted our money while sitting at the table, even though there was obviously plenty of time to do so after the dealing was done. Maybe we didn't follow Kenny's advice precisely, and maybe cashing out right after a blackjack made me look like the coward of the county, but I feel like Kenny's spirit was with us all the same. Since the song only mentions whiskey and cigarettes, we didn't feel too bad about skipping the casino buffet in favor of dinner at The Feedbag.
Ultimately, I feel like Kenny really hooked us up, and for that I will be forever grateful, though not as grateful as I am that he never recorded a song about killing a hobo.