If you leave my mom alone for too long, she comes up with ideas that are uncharacteristic of her.

Today, she decided she wanted to go to a casino. In the few hours I left her alone, she’d figured out how to get there and how long we should stay.

Such a plan is not typical of my mother because she is cheap and because she doesn’t waste money. “Trabaje muy duro para andar gastando en las maquinas,” she’ll say.

For whatever reason, today she wanted to play the slots. I tried to give her a $20, but she only wanted a $5. I settled in a few seats away and before I’d played my first spin, she was done. Apparently, she doesn’t understand the concept of playing a lot of credits on a lot of lines.

As if to punish a misbehaving child, I moved her into a seat next to mine and gave her a $20. It was as if to say, “Since you can’t play on your own, you’ll play under my watchful gaze.”

Then she took off. In the time it took me to get through $40 in twenty-five cent increments, she made $100. Then some guy started watching her and it freaked her out. Then we left.

I guess I’ve never known what my mom does with windfalls, since we really haven’t had any. I now know she goes to Walgreen’s.

She buys the good over-the-counter medicine for herself (real Tums, Icy Hot) , and candy for the neighbor kid, and a sweatshirt for a friend. Then she got me a milkshake and gave me what I’d loaned her. “Por darme los $20 de todo corazon,” she said.


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