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Top Zen: Place your bets


Something isn’t right. I’m not used to this feeling, and I don’t trust it. I’m ... relaxed. I’m remarkably calm despite the number of various senior year-related activities I need to be doing right now, as well as the whole “I need a job” thing looming over my head. But I think I can get through it all now, which is a big step for me. Where did I find this newfound tranquility? Well, it’s all due to the fact that I now know exactly what the collapse of global civilization will look like.

I’ve been worrying about the potential “end of it all” for a while now, pretty much ever since Santorum appeared as a viable Republican Party candidate. I thought there was a good chance for America to turn into some sort of GOP “Mad Max” wasteland. Only instead of cool, young Mel Gibsons running around, there would be old, bloated anti-Semitic/racist Mel Gibsons hitting the streets. However, it has come to my attention that this was an inaccurate forecast for the future. The hordes won’t be wandering the streets for their next easy target to replenish their gas supples. No, they will be seated at gleaming slot machines in neon-lit casinos.

You see, my birthday was last weekend and I decided to experience a casino in person for the first time. Friday afternoon, I drove north to the wastes of Tunica in search of a “good time.” It was already dark by the time I hit the town, but there in the distance stood a glittering monstrosity of a building complex. I knew then and there that this is what the end of the world looks like. Barren fields in all directions, as far as the eye can see, save for pocket remnants of the American Dream in the form of penny slot machines and all-you-can-eat Paula Deen buffets.

Yes, that’s right, a Paula Deen buffet. Was I repulsed by such a low marketing ploy? Of course I was. Did I try it out regardless? Well, yeah, that goes without saying. The Paula Deen buffet consisted of a village-sized complex of various food stands piled high with troughs of food. There literally was a bucket of steaks you could choose from. A bucket. Now granted, once the end of civilization comes, the food selection might change a bit (think vermin instead of cow). But honestly, those steaks could have been raccoon meat for all I knew. I still ate it.

Everyone smoked. Everyone drank. Everyone smiled big, toothy (sometimes toothless) smiles at me if I simply looked in their general vicinity. It was an odd paradox. People smiled at you all the time, but they would immediately turn back and grimace toward whatever game they were losing. It was human interaction in its most basic form. Because, really, who needs real interaction when you have bright, colorful lights and the very slim chance of breaking even at craps.

Casinos will become the new city-states of the apocalypse, mark my words. When society crumbles, we will retreat to these vice complexes, shut the doors and cozy up next to some delicious raccoon steaks and video blackjack, barely interacting with the people around us. But really, why would you want to talk to them, anyway? They could be sizing you up for gas money, Mel Gibson-style.