Lost in Vegas

Scott Feschuk writes an open letter to his money
Let’s go to Vegas, you said
Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

An open letter to my Money:

How are you? I miss you so much! You and I parted so abruptly during our recent jaunt to Las Vegas, I feel compelled to apologize for leaving you behind.

Before I get to that, a quick question: have you seen my self-respect? Or my self-control? Or those studded leather chaps I bought from Gucci while super-duper drunk on complimentary margaritas? I left Vegas without those, as well.

I’m still trying to piece together what went wrong, Money. Our trip began with such optimism. Remember how I withdrew you from the bank and counted you over and over? We shared an immediate connection. Together, we were as close as human and inanimate object could be, not including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

True, things didn’t initially go well at the blackjack tables. Bad hand after bad hand. Bad beat after bad beat. It was like Groundhog Day, but with more crying. Even when I put the best possible spin on it, the only highlights of that first day were a) not being murdered, and b) the four minutes I spent in the hotel bathroom because there’s no way to gamble away money in a Las Vegas bathroom. Although God knows I tried: I just couldn’t convince anyone to take the under on that old guy being at the urinal for 55 seconds.

It was a tough start—but I didn’t get depressed about it. I had a system! For instance, before putting you at risk in any wager, I obliged myself to follow a rigorous three-step thought process:

1. I’ll probably win this time, right?

2. Right!


When this foolproof system failed, I came up with something even foolproofer: I would get more of you from the ATM and use that to win you back! This strategy made perfect sense so long as I didn’t think about it in any way. So I didn’t! I didn’t think about it the next two times, either.

By the second day, I was so far down it began to affect my mood. I started proposing subtle tweaks to the city’s famous slogan, such as: “What happens in Vegas is you lose a lot of money and regret having visited.” You could tell the card dealer really enjoyed my mix of sarcasm and combative profanity by the way he said, “Security!”

Arriving in Las Vegas, it had been my dream to mimic that famous scene from the movies—the one where the triumphant gambler rolls around on a bed covered with money. I fulfilled my dream on our second night. I’m not saying my bankroll had by that time been substantially diminished, but the following afternoon I discovered a dime still stuck to my shoulder.

I decided to switch things up and bet on sports. This seemed like a savvy move because I’m highly intuitive—the kind of guy who can cast a quick glance at the array of basketball odds on the big screen and somehow just know which team to bet on. But my gifts don’t end there. I also have a natural intuition for precisely which curse words to use when the team I bet on loses by 25 points. (Take it from a pro: the family of hard c’s is the most satisfying.)

Thirty-six hours in, I was feeling pretty bad about my sudden lack of you, Money. That’s when we wound up having dinner one table over from the Pete Rose. The disgraced baseball great—who passes his days signing autographs for cash and, to judge from his hat, having bad taste in hats—was there with his young fiancée. You could tell the two shared a profound romantic connection by the one time Rose looked up from checking basketball scores on his phone. If memory serves, he gazed into her eyes and cooed, “Huh?”

When Rose was handed the dinner tab, he reached into his front pocket and removed a wad of $100 bills that was roughly as thick as Dagwood Bumstead’s dream sandwich. I was inspired. I vowed at that moment: I will win back all that I have lost! I will not only return my wad of money to its former glory—I will further enthicken it! And I will succeed in doing so even though enthicken is not technically a word!

I rushed from the restaurant, sat down at a nearby blackjack table—and immediately lost 11 straight hands. Dispiriting, yes—but this newest dose of adversity gave birth to my foolproofest system of all for stemming my losses. I call it “leaving.”

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk