Semantic notions about life: an exploration of words and signs, and the stories they are trying to tell.

luck

luck

Corner of N. Williams & NE Prescott,  Portland, OR, USA

Corner of N. Williams & NE Prescott,  Portland, OR, USA

luck /luhk/ 

Noun. Success or good fortune in a person's life, considered to be brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.

We place our bets as one. A shared risk, a joint investment into a single set of chips, but the rules of roulette will not permit us to lay wagers on the table at the same time. Though your arms stretch far longer than mine, with much greater reach, you take on the role of advisor, standing guard behind my seat. Your body, my shield against the brigade of cocktail servers casting free but weak vodka sodas as lures.

We are assigned aquamarine, bright as robin eggs, and I begin by setting anchors on our constants - mine, a straight bet on 29, yours close by on 22. Together, they serve as our greatest potential for payout, 35 to 1. The table is advertised as low stakes, a $10 minimum inside bet per hand, but I position our $1 chips as though each one is an individual, precious diamond.

You whisper suggestions over my shoulder: splits and streets, corners and trios, our strategy nothing more than a series of numbers we've been led to believe hold power, or yield some sort of significance. The month of the year and the day of the month tied to births, anniversaries, deaths. Former and current addresses and phone numbers. And figures that simply keep reappearing over and over again in our atmosphere, a glimmer of shooting stars and northern lights, begging us to stop and pay attention.

We search for the right combination to unlock good fortune, playing through a series of spins, a slight but steady ebb and flow to our stack, no remarkable dips or surge. On the next round, the dealer sends the wheel clockwise, the ball counter. You lean in, voice low but assured, a directive to up the ante on my beloved 29. An instinct that the right time to raise the stakes? Is right now.

I trust your predictions, and when I reach to place more chips, your left hand guides the small of my back for the briefest moment. What should have been just a brush, a breeze, becomes a static shock, electrons moving from one material to another, an excess of positive charge.

The wheel slows, the ball tap dances then settles, the marker placed on 29. Losses are swept away as we hug, cheer, high five, then hug again, celebrating our modest win like a windfall, a sign of what is possible. We are gambling more than money now. The odds are in your favor, and I am all in on you.

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cau·tion

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