From time to time I, as a fellow with a bit of a sporting bent, am careful to check in with the governing institutions-that-be in order to ensure that I am keeping a healthy balance of the stuff in my life. I found the following test on-line, courtesy of Gamblers Anonymous, which I filled in with much interest:
1. Have you ever lost time from work due to gambling?
As framed, this question quite simply does not stand, as the implication is that man is designed to live as a cog in a 40-hour wheel and that all pleasurable entertainment is secondary.
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
But of course! One can't have highs without lows. Has gambling ever made my home life happy? Again, the answer is yes. The implication here is that we are to live in an emotionless stasis, which I refute with a smartly raised Scotch-and-soda and wink of the eye.
3. Has gambling affected your reputation?
In the finest of ways. I am regarded throughout the peerage and beyond as a man against whom one had better have done his math.
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Remorse is the instinct of the dilettante. The novice hunter may feel regret as he takes the life of a buck or wild boar, but in time he translates these emotions into the philosophy of a higher intellectual plane. In life, as on the felt, there are wins and losses. It is the natural order of things.
5. Have you ever gambled to get money to pay debts or solve financial difficulties?
6. Has gambling ever caused a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
Yes, but so has sleep or time spent in the bath.
7. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible to win back your losses?
Of course! The desire to win keeps the senses alive and alert, and keeps one at the top of one's game. Does Bill Gates slink off into the woods with a cyanide pill after losing an important high-stakes court case? Not a chance! He is back in the office at sunrise the next day, mad as a hornet, scheming to recoup his losses.
8. After winning, do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
It is more my custom to enjoy the rush with a spot of something aged and a hand-rolled.
9. Do you often gamble until you run out of money?
When one dwells within a five-par of Ray Smuckles, all one needs is a dried pea and three walnut shells in order to replenish the old roll.
10. Have you ever borrowed money to finance your gambling?
One evening while a bit light good old Ray loaned me a twenty so that a betting environment could be established regarding what brand a certain pair of shoes hanging from a power line might be. It was his unwavering opinion that the brand was "British Knights," and he was rather staunch in this, citing numerous facts about the fellows who "ran" in the neighborhood, as well as a number of hip-hop culture references, so I took the "any possible brand but that" shot at three to one. I came out the winner when a child with a flashlight was summoned from a nearby house and the dangling "shoes" were revealed to be a few pieces of fast-food trash inside of a heavily knotted household trash bag.
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance your gambling?
Not as such, but I have sold my gambling to finance a purchase. The story involves Téodor, Texas Hold 'Em at Ray's, a hidden earpiece, a small camera disguised into a straw cowboy hat, and a particularly nasty case of food poisoning which kept me in bed with the laptop for the evening. We split the winnings and as soon as I was back on my feet I was one case of Inniskillin the smarter.
12. Are you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
Not in the least.
13. Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself and your family?
Dear Iris Gambol has long since passed, and we had no children to think of, so I am afraid I am the sole heir and benefactor of a long one on the rails.
14. Do you ever gamble longer than planned?
One does not plan to gamble for a set amount of time! My goodness! This is tantamount to asking the United States government if they occupied Viet Nam for longer than they had intended. Things arise.
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
My dear questionnaire writer, all the diversions of life are meant to help us escape worry. The liquid is meant for the bottle, the leaf is meant for the roll, the meal is meant for the palate, and love when not worry makes whole. Or so such a rebuttal, issued by the poet Whiting, might go.
16. Have you ever committed or considered committing an illegal act to finance gambling?
Gambling is illegal in my state/county, so it's all one big quandary. I suppose I ought not to answer this on-line, what with Google and all.
17. Has gambling ever caused you to have difficulty sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
Such contentious circumstances are the fertile crescent of any and all great wagers. This truly cannot be a serious question.
19. Do you ever get the urge to celebrate any good fortune with a few hours of gambling?
Just as good food loves good wine, I have.
20. Have you ever considered self destruction as a result of your gambling?
I once smashed an ice bust of Oscar Wilde with a fairway wood, but it had been the apogee of a long night of revelry, and the occasion was the anniversary of his death-day, so if you ask me I will freely tell you that I had sunk far too many to remember whether or not I had gambled that evening, let alone set fire to prominent government buildings or loudly declared my love for my own genius down the street-level exhaust shaft of an underground parking garage. At my advanced age we regret the things we said as youth, but dearly miss the energy with which we said them. Is youth, particularly the ability to metabolize sausage, truly wasted on the young?
I gamble, and smoke tobacco, and imbibe alcohol, and consume meats, and on the occasion of my hundredth birthday I shall don my slip-resistant booties and dance a brief but vigorous step upon your grave, for I have better places to be and better company to keep, you tired old nag.