When I was eight, Dad bought me a craps table for Christmas.
All I really wanted for Christmas was the pink Barbie flushable toilet to add to my collection. I already had the motor home, the swimming pool, the purple Corvette, the fluffy white dog.... On Christmas Eve, I dressed up Marie Barbie (of Donnie and Marie fame; I lost Donnie a few years back in an "accident" when I left him sitting too long in the homemade "hot tub" on the stove). With Marie in her skin-tight magenta dress, I knew it was only a matter of time before I could roll up her skirt and sit her down on my new, perfect pink toilet. I would spend Christmas morning flushing away.
On Christmas morn, I ran into the family room and scanned the unwrapped presents (Santa never wrapped presents at my house). At the fireplace: new stuffed monkey in a jogging suit. Cool, cool. Underneath the tree: books, candy. Cool. At the TV: Intellivision. Cool, not Atari, but cool. And in the blinding center of the room: the craps table. Christ. The flushable toilet just wasn't there.
I ran to the bathroom and cried, watching my reflection in the gold leaf veined mirror as the tears stained my cheeks.
"I want the flushable toilet! I don't want a craps table!" I wailed, "Doesn't Santa know the odds are 20-1? 100-1 if you're playing numbers? Hell, you've got better odds playing slots."
I could hear Dad slump on the other side of the door. You always feel bad for a gambler. "Sweetheart, please come out. Santa went to a lot of trouble to bring you the craps table."
When I finally came out, he brushed the hair from my damp face and rocked me in my disappointment. With a Christmas voice he said, "Don't worry, I'll teach you how to play. You'll have skills, real skills. And if you hit, you'll win thousands. Thousands could buy you a million Barbies."
Dad's math just wasn't so good.