OH my... I double checked my set up and I had entered my info in the wrong place (under calendars instead of contacts). User error. Once I fixed that ... the default was listed and everything sinked beautifully! Sorry.
In regards to deleteing contacts on my mac. I did the sync without doing that. As a result I had everything duplicated in gmail. There was a way to merge duplicates and that helped a great deal. A few small messes to clean up .. but it all worked fairly well in the end and allowed me to merge these two databases. On my Laptop, however, everything was also duplicated. This was an easy fix by going to the front of the address book and checking the box to only view my Gmail contacts. I just need to realize that the contacts 'on my mac' will not be altered when I make changes. I'm going to keep them there as sort of a back up and I also made a backup copy of my cards.