[425/441] Exposure

Yesterday, when I was listening to the radio, I heard B107.3’s Four and No More. In this game, two contestants have to guess a person, place, or thing with no more than four clues.

It is their current game show at 07:40 each weekday morning.  After “Battle of the Sexes” ended last March, there was a week where there was no game show, but rather a preview of a new game, which turned out to be “Who’s Singing In The Shower.”  It was a big flop, and was discarded after a few months, replaced with “Four and No More.”

The clues for yesterday: “Not for kids,” “Comes in different varieties,” “Spin to win,” and “One-armed bandit.”

It got me thinking about “age 21 vices” and how both are addictive, yet low-risk introduction to them could possibly avoid problems later.  For reference, those two “age 21 vices” are drinking alcohol and gambling.

When I was young, I had plenty of exposure to zero-stakes gambling.  I had already written about one of these–blackjack, in a post a few weeks ago.  How funny that the critical number in that game corresponds to the age (in the USA) that it is legal to play in casinos or gambling houses!

Also, I was exposed to slot machines, minus the actual stakes of money.  My grandparents had several slot machines in their house, but they didn’t have arms on them, and instead had buttons to stop the reels manually and individually.  They also had hand-held slot machine games there.

I also remember learning the rules of poker one night with Dad and my other siblings up in Molly’s room on an evening in 2000 (other details have since faded).  There was no anteing, just five-card poker with a draw-up-to-3 option.  Obviously, the ante and bluffing is a big part of the game, but sometimes if you are just being familiarized, the risk doesn’t need to be introduced until later.

Well, actually, I did get exposed to poker chips at Grammy (z”l)’s house, but never used them for poker.  (Now that I think about it, I can’t remember what I used them for… but I always enjoyed getting into the cabinet and playing with them).

Alcohol is the other adult vice, and although I had not been as heavily exposed to it, my early tastes of it (e.g. through synagogue events, or occasionally at home) left a bad taste in my mouth.  The health classes in middle and high school successfully convinced me to tee-total throughout my early college years, where it was illegal anyway.  The horror stories of overdrinking that I had heard were enough to dissuade me.

Still, in other places (e.g. Europe, Russia), drinking is not seen in as much of a taboo light… the legal drinking age is 18 or younger, and it seems that they have fewer problems with binge drinking.  It could be that I just don’t peruse the news abroad, but hearing about alcohol problems, especially among minors, is a common thing in the States.

Both of these suggest the same thing: even if people have vices, it pays to have light exposure to them in a low- or zero-risk environment. Despite my exposure to slot machines and blackjack well before I was 21, it didn’t cause me to become a gambling addict.  And just because I didn’t really have a significant exposure to alcohol, the avoidance education was sufficient to prevent me from getting in trouble, even after turning 21.

Now, of course, I know that there are cases where a moral system, as opposed to a country’s laws, will forbid drinking or gambling.  If that is the case, the question is: Does education on the matter plant a seed for immoral behavior, or does it help someone avoid it?  What a question…


Today is the four-hundred and twenty-fifth day of Mission 441. Sixteen days remain.

Post-script: Today’s Four and No More was really funny too… the clues were “Greek,” “Supreme being,” “Goddess,” and “Love.”  Each clue got people off-track… from The Parthenon, to the last name “Pope,” to trying to get a fifth clue or fifth chance after neither person could spit out “Aphrodite.”  How I love lively game shows and participation on the radio!


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