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"Dice are out!" the stickman hollers. "Same lucky shooter, number's eight, point eight, hard or easy." "Two bucks on hard eight," a black transvestite yells and tosses down two blue chips. She makes eye contact with me and nods. The dice roll around my palm.

"All right," Steve breathes. "The point is eight. We've got a $5 Come bet with $15 odds on the number six, a $5 bet with $10 in odds on the six, and five on the Come line. Roll us a number."

My hand shoots toward the back wall and the dice come free. They draw a tight arc from my fingertips to the soft foam beneath the silky blouse and lacy bra of the dark man in need of a shave opposite me at the table. Tumbling with clicks and clacks from where they ricocheted to their final stop, the pink plastic cubes land. Before the stickman has a chance to call it out, I know what I just rolled and a string from my stomach pulls my jaw open.

"Seven! Craps seven! Take the Line and pay the Don't! Craps seven!"

"Gosh darn it!" Steve curses in the only way his East Texas Protestant upbringing will allow him. He glares at me.

"Man, don't be pissed at me," I say and point to the dice in my defense. "Be pissed at random chance."

"That's 200 bucks I'm down," he says with accusation.

"That's 400 I'm down," I plead in an attempt to ameliorate Steve's pinched-up neck and shoulders.

"You know what that means," Steve growls.

"Yep, it means I'm halfway through my bankroll eight hours after my plane landed from San Diego," I answer. "We've got three days left. I'm going to run out of money."

"This means we need that Indianapolis game to come through for us," Steve reminds me. Thank you, sweet Jesus. I forgot I had 100 bucks on Indianapolis to cover the five-point spread.

Steve and I grab a cocktail off the tray of a passing waitress and run to the sportsbook. We take two chairs with big puffy padding in the front row. Ignoring the slaughterhouse stains on the seat of mine, I ease down, acclimate myself to the smell of vomit, and scan the bank of televisions for the Indy game.

"Indy takes the lead in the final seconds and that's game!" an excited voice announces.

"YES!" Steve and I share a high five and he turns around in his seat. "Let's collect our winnings. The smart thing to do would be to bide our time, budget our remaining money, and not, under any circumstances, are we to go back and roll dice."

"You're right," I concede. "Let's play blackjack."

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, February 23

That '70s Show

FOX 8:00 p.m. I had a dream where I took the little brunette woman on a jet-ski trip across the reflecting pool to the foot of the Washington monument, and we covered the spire in motor oil and wool sweat socks. What do you think that means?

Friday, February 24

Top 10 Countdown

VH1 7:00 p.m. Have you seen Madonna's butt? Good lord. I don't know what that old woman does in the gym or how she got that big bastard, but it looks like she's smuggling two bowling balls in the back of her unitard. Watch her new video. I defy you to resist hypnotization by that thing. I DEFY YOU!

Saturday, February 25

Skeleton Stories

DHLTH 7:00 p.m. I have a show for Discovery Health. It's called The Fourth Dentist, and it follows the life of the dentist who doesn't recommend brushing your teeth, chewing gum, or rinsing your mouth out with anything other than LSD.

Sunday, February 26

Inside the Actors Studio

BRAVO 8:00 p.m. Douche.

Monday, February 27

King of the Hill

FX 5:30 p.m. If I were Brittany Murphy's husband, I'd make her use the Luanne voice anytime she wanted to speak. If she used her normal voice, I'd hold my hands over my ears and yell, "I can't hear you! I want to talk to Luanne!"

Tuesday, February 28

American Idol

FOX 8:00 p.m. After badmouthing American Idol for a year now, I admit to watching an episode for the very first time. On the program, this woman got up there, and it was apparent she had zero talent, in any form. It looked as though she could barely remember where she was. I think she was drunk. Her name is Paula Abdul. You might remember her from a long time ago. She was a singer or something.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

BRAVO 10:00 p.m. Some think Vin Diesel could use a little spit and polish from the Queer Eye guys. (Some insiders have said that'd be more like peanut buttering a peanut butter sandwich, if you know what I mean. WINK!)

Survivorman

DSC 10:30 p.m. Survivorman is rad! This goofy Canadian guy gets dropped off in some forsaken sinkhole and has to make it out alive. The show is an hour of this guy falling off cliffs, cutting his fingers, starving, dying of thirst, and getting the holy snot bitten out of him by bugs and spiders. It's like Survivor without the group dynamics, mocha latte rewards, and high-pitched whining from San Francisco bank executives in loincloths. If they figure out a way to add a woman in a bikini to Survivorman, it will be the only thing I ever want to watch for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, March 1

Project Runway

BRAVO 10:00 p.m. Project Runway is an hour of men with thin wrists and floating hands standing in doorways with their heads cocked back, yelling, "It'sss time, people. Let'sss go. Let'sss show everyone how fabulousss you are."

Thursday, March 2

Smallville

ABCFAM 8:00 p.m. The kid on Smallville who plays teenage Aquaman is the best looking guy I've ever seen. His presence could make my grandmother pop out of the grave and apply lipstick. I simultaneously want to slap his face and congratulate him on the volume and quality of wool he will be pulling.

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