What are the odds?

Hark, dear readers, and find comfort in my voice, for I have returned from a BDHS-esque road trip down and up the Western states of the Union. Although my vacation lacked the serenity of twilit nights whiled lazily away with my young family in darkest Canada, it made up for it with big city nights, incredible food, California girls, and a jaunt down the PCH whose jagged cliffs, crashing waves, and pubic hair-straightening chicanes will be forever seared into my memory.

Exorbitant wireless rates and long stretches of driving kept me from imbibing Oilers news (or lack thereof) at the pace to which I have been acclimated, resulting in a severe feeling of withdrawal. However, the cold sweats gave way to a certain ease of mind I haven't experienced since our team officially fell out of playoff contention. For the first time in weeks, I didn't wake up thinking about Dany Heatley (thankfully a non-issue), the Bulin Wall (as divisive as ever), or Andrew Cogliano's feelings (unhurt, I assure you). Instead, I relished the rays of the angry sun and let my brain steam in its own juices, dulling the pain with unbelievably cheap beer. Imaginary rosters and swarming microstats evaporated and I loved every minute of it.

Until I got to Vegas.

It was to be the last stop on our trip that carried us through Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, SanFran, LA, San Diego, and LA again. 4 days of further debauchery to cap it all off, before striking out on the remaining 1500 miles that would lead us home. It started off well enough, with me and my compadre indulging in all the LV standards: giant margaritas in plastic skulls, mindless gambling, the Spearmint Rhino, food in ridiculous portions, and total disregard for the daylight hours. Despite all this, the Oilers fan in me urged me to hit a sports book and check out the futures board.

Big mistake.

One look at those odds, the bloated 50 dwarfing that tiny 1, and it all came rushing back. The uncertainty, the gaping roster holes, the vertigo brought on by the sheer face of competition that must be climbed to summit the mountain that is 8th place in the Western Conference. A week and a half of happy ignorance crumbled as the Mole Man of reality rent its surface with some nightmarish drill, powered on the hopes and dreams of Oilers fans and spewing out the black exhaust of our souls.

Sputtering on my Miller Lite, I braced myself against the swoon that pulled at the edges of my consciousness as my eyes stumbled up the list.

Nashville and Minnesota looked smugly down at us with their 40:1s, while Dallas, Colombus, and even Ottawa guffawed together like old chums, comparing the dimensions of their 35:1 chance of grasping Stanley's Mug. It only got worse from there. Three teams I used to circle as easy wins on the schedule (the Blues, the Sabres, and the Panthers) all sat 20 points up on us. Meanwhile, at 20-25:1, two teams with a Cup since the lockout, Carolina and Anaheim, hobnobbed with perennial post-season dropouts, the Habs and Rags. Calgary at 18:1 put a lump in my throat, the Human Rake's Flyers at 15:1 put tears in my eyes, and the Canucks at the same put me over the edge. My sobbing husk, heaped on the floor, was asked by a large man with a brushcut to bet some money or kindly drag itself off the premises.

It did the latter. As much as I wanted to pull myself together, pry a fifty out of my pocket, and drop it on the Boys in Blue and Orange, I just couldn't do it. I'd heard tale of loyal fans doing as much before the 2005-06 season and coming this close to a huge payout. How they bore the disappointment, I'll never know. Fifty bucks may be fifty bucks, but fifty bucks that's one enormous game away from $2500 would be too much for me to take.

Later on, swaddled in the high thread count of my hotel sheets, I reassured myself that I had made the right decision. I put myself through enough as an Oilers fan without having a dollar amount hanging like Damocles' Sword over the season. Odds are meant to be defied, but taunting Lady Luck is a harrowing pastime.

1 comment:

  1. you should have bet your plastic margarita skull, 50 of those bad boys, everyone you know would drink sweet victory from them, or else the one you bought would kindly return from whence it came