Engaging Your Endorphins |
by Kathe Campbell
Isn't it wonderful how our endorphins work? In their simplest form endorphins release drugs from the brain that cause the body to abruptly activate our senses. They are often prompted by persons, places and events, or even an idea to get us all revved up - or down. What funny things they are, and yet, we're pretty dreary souls without them.
My husband, Ken, and I are lazily slogging around our daughter's house trying to make Saturday banter with grandsons. A real test of patience for this granny and papa as the boys speak only one word of English . . . "Uh!" Meanwhile, the girls can't shut up five minutes. We love it. Endorphins half-way engaged.
It's a drizzly day in Wenatchee. Gardening is out, river rafting is a bust, and it's too wet to ride ATV's. We had shopped and dined at a quaint German village the day before, and laughed and scratched over board games half the night. What to do - what to do?
"I know what lets do," chimes in our son-in-law, Russ. "Why don't we drive around Lake Chelan to the Indian casino?" Engaging eager endorphin number one.
The scene perks up. We girls drown scraggly bed heads, blow dry, and jump into sweats. Guys do considerably less for the 40 mile trek.
"What's taking those boys so long?" queries our daughter, KT. "They're no doubt conspiring a way to take two cars," Russ states with absolute certainty. "After all, wouldn't it be dangerous for the eight of us to cram into an Excursion traversing narrow two-lane roads mere feet from a deep lake?" One of the boys appears twirling KT's car keys on his thumb. He suggests that he is more than happy to drive the other car. "There's plenty of room in mine." retorts a firm Russ. Number one endorphin shot down.
Understandably, the Native American and Las Vegas versions of gambling palaces don't quite jibe. No liquor on the reservation, but the smoke rings can choke a horse. There's a fair cafe, unlimited soft drinks, and kids are welcome to watch their parents lose their shirts. Spotting an area for playing video games, second endorphins engage.
Ken and I have no idea why or how gaming talent emerges in our KT. She is our lucky girl. She and Russ have demanding careers and head for Vegas and sunshine a few days each year. KT plays anything that makes noise or shuffles while Russ bonds with poker and golf. The slots shower silver dollars in her lap and she's a whiz at Black Jack. The word is that whoever sits beside KT, has good luck. She's our good luck omen, our slot machine fairy godmother. Engaging hopeful endorphin number three.
We watch KT stroll amongst the machines, scrutinizing them like an all knowing, all seeing, soothsayer. She can't describe what she's looking for. It's a feeling. Abruptly, she beckons. "Mom, come sit beside me." Coins begin tumbling from KT's guzzler like water out of Grand Coulee Dam. Meanwhile, my famished money moocher dents my social security check. Suddenly, ring-ring-ring-ding-ding-ding. Not a huge win for my daughter, but $500 primes our pumps as engaging endorphin number four commences.
After KT's ceremonious war dance, she gives her seat to her father. Moments later my quarter slot also rings out loud and long. Curious players line up behind me as KT shrieks, "Mom, you just won a thousand dollar jackpot!" In total shock, I manage a "Hot Damn" as endorphin number five engages.
Two seats over, Ken is still nursing a sorry gobbler that KT now urges him to forget. We never ask her why. We just follow orders. After a few more plays, Pops reluctantly saunters off to watch others. Engaging six optimistic endorphins.
Having worn out jackpots side by side, KT meanders. She warily and peripherally eyes every person and every machine down several rows. She beckons her dad to follow her to ultimate glory. Seated beside him, she ignores his unrelenting grumbles over vanishing silver dollars. But, utter misery ensues for this Scotsman who engages his sixth painful endorphin.
Meanwhile, Russ wanders over to inform KT his poker machine has wolfed down his last quarter. He needs to pick her brain. She leaves Pops in his despair while surveying the poker wall. She whispers to Russ that the machine third from left in the first row is hot. "Well now," Russ sarcastically queries, "How would you suggest I extricate the guy who has been playing there the last hour?" KT tells Russ to watch and be patient, that the fellow looks discouraged. Sure enough, the poker man leaves and Russ slides onto the hot seat. Engaging expectant endorphin number seven.
KT returns to cajole her dad by coolly poking in more silver dollars. Another five minutes, and flashing lights and clanging bells, more patrons show up. " Dad, you did it, you did it. "$750," hollers KT while again exhibiting whoops and hollers. Pops immediately falls head over heels for the pretty girl who comes to check out big wins. She hands him a voucher, a young man opens the back of the dollar monster, readjusts this and that, and we all move on. Engaging victorious endorphin number eight.
"Three out of four ain't bad," the casino manager states as he hands us our winnings and free tickets to the restaurant.
"Mom, dad is working on making it four," pipe up the girls. "He told us to go ahead and eat. He has a 'feeling,' and it's not hunger." Engaging expectant endorphin number nine.
Alas, 'twas not Russ' day, but who's complaining?
Tomorrow it may be our grandson playing first string football, or a granddaughter as the catcher in her fast pitch game, or it may be someone's wedding or funeral. Our unique endorphins gazump our psyches.
Our endorphins never engaged again under these same circumstances. What's more, we're all savvy enough to realize they probably never will. But, I wish you could have felt my endorphins engaging as I penned this remarkable day for our family story album.