a crappy evening.

Early last week, my boss sent around an email regarding the upcoming holiday party. Apparently, if he got rid of the craps table, he would be allowed to add another blackjack table and poker table for no charge. He asked how the rest of us felt about this arrangement.

Picture a shot of me, sitting in my cubicle and reading this email. I stand up, reach one arm out to the sky as if trying to grab something and shout "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" The camera pulls away as I scream, showing my building, then the town of Raleigh, all of North America, and then finally the whole world. The astronauts turn their heads as they hear my cry. True story.

Faced with the situation of a casino night with no craps table, I wrote an impassioned plea. I explained the group fun mentality of craps, the thrill of winning along with your friends. In my mind, I was worrying about the possibility of being forced to play roulette all night. Apparently some other dice-lovers wrote in, too, and the craps table stayed.

I got to the table last Friday night and suddenly realized that I had forgotten everything I ever learned about playing the game. I knew that I needed to put chips down on the table, but I couldn't recall when and where. Everyone else seemed to suffer from the same sort of amnesia. But the dealers patiently explained it all to us, making terrible puns as they went. I put chips down, and sometimes I got some back. I asked questions when I wasn't sure about something or when they used some of their hip dice lingo. By the end of the night, I knew what I was doing and could even use some of that slang myself. "Double up on the hardways and give me a bet on the horn, high three." I even know what a hoppin' fifty-four and a cocktail waitress are.

At the end of the night, Josh and I had each earned an extra three raffle tickets at the table. He gave me his and told me to put them in whatever box I wanted. There was really only one thing I wanted, so I put most of our tickets in the box for a Roku video player and 12-month gift subscription to Netflix. I put a single ticket in a couple of other prize boxes (spa treatment, restaurant gift certificate, tickets to a show) just to say that I diversified my portfolio. I put most of our tickets into the Roku because it seemed to be the best thing that we could both use. I would have felt like a dog if I'd used his ticket to win a mudbath and a manicure. A very pampered dog, but a dog nonetheless.

I had no idea what a Roku was until last Thursday, when my boss sent out an email saying what the prizes up for grabs this year were going to be. It's basically a little wifi-enabled computer that hooks into your TV and plays streaming content. I use the Netflix instant viewing quite a bit, but watching it on my laptop is less than ideal. This way, I would be able to do it on my TV. Even my pathetic 15-year-old 26-inch television is better than my 17-inch monitor. You can also rent or buy content off Amazon.

I know all about the Roku now because we won it. The astronauts looked again towards North America as they heard a great "YAAAAAAAAYYYYY!" This was my first win at the holiday party. It's fun even when you don't come home with a fancy gadget, but it's nice to feel like you got more than plastic chips and a lesson in dice-related slang out of the evening. I set it up early Saturday morning and added a season of Spongebob to our instant viewing queue, just for Josh. Later this week, I'll watch a musical and appreciate not having to squint to see Ginger Rogers' feet. It's a cool toy, and I can see how TV in general is probably going in the direction of on-demand streaming content. I'm glad I didn't have to wait until a fortuitous yard sale to find it.

Maybe I should be concerned that I had such fun gambling; that can't be a good sign. Josh says it's probably not as fun when you're playing with real money. He also says you can probably play online, but I can't imagine the game without having people around me, cheering on their own bets. So my craps habit will have to be just an annual thing. By then, I'll have to be reminded what a hoppin' fifty-four is.

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