The Gambler   

I had been smoking a long time now and figure I would put my talent to use. I recently heard of a game called the Gamble and thought I would check it out. I find the building and go up the dark, dusty stairs. Umm...that smell of cigarette smoke, how I love it. This must be the right place, I think. I knock on the door. Come on in, friend, look around, there are a lot of faces you recognize here, says my host. (Hey maybe you know him....Phil Morris) Through the blue smoke haze I look around and recognize friends and family; some Iíve seen recently and others not in years. The host escorts me into the main gambling room. As we walk around he briefly explains the game to me; itís very simple he says. All you have to do is smoke, smoke all you want. What is the object of this game, I ask. That is simple too, my friend, it is life. If you are one of the lucky ones, you will live to be an old, old age. You will see your children grow, and possibly their children. Well, what happens if Iím not one of the lucky ones, I ask. Good question says my host. Take a look over there at that table. Do you see it there, far back in the corner? I strain to see through all the smoke. Slowing I see faces and bodies, but they donít look real. Yes, yes, I think I see them, but Iím not sure, they donít look alive to me. My host replies, because they arenít alive. Those are the ones that played this game; they were willing to risk their life to play, but they just didnít make it.

But hey donít be discouraged, he says, itís fun, come on, weíll walk around some more and Iíll tell you how you get points in this game. Itís really pretty easy. Like I said before, you just have to smoke and youíll get a point. Here are some examples of some things you can do to earn 1 point:

have a smoke upon waking
have one with your coffee
have one while you make breakfast
have one after breakfast
have one if the kids are stressing you out
have one before you get in the shower
have one after the shower and while you get ready
have one while you talk on the phone
have one after the kids get on the bus
have one while you clean the house
have one after youíve cleaned the house
have one in your car
have one more before you get out of the car
have one if youíre happy, sad, anxious, mad, celebrating, mourning, hell,
have one just because youíre alive
give yourself a point if you put out your cigarette butts on somebody elseís property
or if you put one out in a public place that is other wise clean

My host says, "you get the picture now donít you, all you have to do is smoke. Youíll love it, itís so easy to play. Pretty soon you wonít even think about how often youíre doing it and the points will really start to rack up."

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you, says my host, there are certain things you can do to win extra bonus points. Such as, I ask.. You can earn bonus points every time you smoke in one of these situations or a similar situation:

When your kids are sick and you smoke in front of them (5 points)
When your spouse is trying to quit this game and you still smoke in front of him/he(actually give yourself 10 for this one)
When you just lost a loved one from cancer or any other disease (5 points)
When you give birth to your children (5 points)
For an extra 15 points smoke in the bathroom in the hospital room, thatís a real challenging one.
For another 15 points, smoke while you breastfeed, just put a blanket over babyís head.
Give yourself 25 points if you smoke while you are pregnant.
When you are so sick you canít breathe (7 points)
Give yourself 5 points if you have to leave your job to go out and smoke
Give yourself 5 points if you can exercise but then immediately light up
When your kids want you to read to them or play with them (5 points)
Give yourself 50 points if you can drag around your oxygen tank and smoke at the same time.
Give yourself 10 points for every new person you influence, intentionally or not, to become a smoker.
Give yourself 50 points if you quit smoking but got right back into it.
If you are really brave, give yourself 100 points if you can fall asleep with a cigarette and not start your house on fire and kill everyone in it.

Okay, I think I have it now, I say. I think Iím ready to play. I have a bunch of packs in my jacket. Iím feeling really good. I feel lucky. Let me get in this game. The host, waves his hand around the room and says go ahead pick a chair there are a lot of empty ones to choose from. Those faces that you saw earlier, they used to sit there, but unfortunately, they thought they could win this game.

I look again in the corner and I see dad, grandpa, Bryan, another grandpa and some faces that I donít recognize. Then I realize there are more of these faces around than there are of real people like me. Why is everyone so anxious to play this game if your chances of winning arenít very good, I ask. Itís a gamble, my friend. You take a chance with every cigarette you smoke. Maybe you will live to be 80 or 90 but know if you are going to play this game, there is a very real chance you may not see 35. There, go ask Bryan, he will tell you all about it if you donít believe me. I look around the room again, not really sure if I want to play this game called Gamble. I hesitate and turn around to head out of that room. I can hear my host calling after me, "hey,where are you going, are you in or not?"

Are you in or not?
I think I will sit this one out.

by ISM