Casinos apparently are big venues for musicians, and I’ve spent my share of time these last few days watching people play slots while waiting for Toby Lightman, Jewel, and Rob Thomas to take the stage. My husband is on this particular summer tour (he plays keys, organ), so, as part of my official groupie status, I spend a lot of time wandering around during sound check, watching people lose their money far more than they seem to be winning it.

The other day, as I crossed one of the casino floors, with its wild flashing lights and pinball machine-like sounds assaulting my ears, I halted in my tracks. Before me was an enormous window with velvet ropes to guide a line of people in front of it, above which hung gigantic block letters that spelled: REDEMPTION. I couldn’t help but smile at the irony of it all, that here in the middle of the East Coast’s sin city (this casino was in Atlantic City), was a bank teller-like booth peddling “redemption.” Of course they meant chip redemption–the place you go to get what few chips you have left turned back into quarters, or, in exceptional cases, turned into winnings. Yet the oddness of it all was still striking–the word standing alone, hanging above everyone’s heads as if to tempt these gamblers away from the slots and black jack tables and onward to a better place.

I didn’t stop by seeking redemption myself. I don’t gamble, so I suppose in the land of casinos, I had nothing that could be offered up.

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