On my trip home yesterday, we connected through Las Vegas, an airport I'd never visited. The terminal featured a prime view of the sphinx-and-pyramid casino (whichever one that is) and a bunch of 25-cent slot machines.
Of course, the kids wanted to play the slots, and so I had to try to explain the concept of gambling to them. The best analogy I could cook up was those crane games - those big glass cases where you use a joystick to maneuver a claw and pick up a stuffed toy, only to see it drop out of your grasp, again and again. You know, the games that small children periodically get stuck inside.
Crane game photo by Flickr user Paul Pellerito, used under a Creative Commons license.
I was going to demonstrate the equal futility of playing the slots, but the machines wouldn't take my quarters! You can see how long it's been since I gambled; I didn't realize that the minimum amount of cash a quarter machine would accept is actually - a dollar. There I was, with $6.25 in quarters, a very big stake by my standards, and nowhere to burn them.
In other words, I needed a machine more like this one, and none was to be found.
Photo by Flickr user cobalt123, used under a Creative Commons license.
Then the attendant chased us away because at ages 5 and 8, the boys really don't pass for old enough to "loiter" around the machines, as the warning signs so charmingly put it.
Still, it was an easy, uneventful trip: We had an extra seat for each kid, they both slept on the long flight, and our plane arrived a half hour early, which I thought violated some unwritten law these days. And now it's great to be home.