I’m not much of a gambler. Sure, back in the day I used to play a little poker but I never knew when to hold ‘em nor when to fold ‘em, which is apparently pretty important; just ask Kenny Rogers. Today, if playing, it will be with reluctance. Since 5 Card Stud doesn’t hold any interest for me I will invariably lose patience after a few hands and just become an irritant to my fellow hustlers. Then I’ll be asked to leave the table and amuse myself somewhere else. So, since winning big at poker is not gonna happen, I look for opportunities to cash in somewhere else. At work I’ll lay down a wager. Usually some random sporting event. Just to inject a little drama into the 9-5.
Who Do You Like?
I never care which team I pick. Or athlete. I leave all that up to the randomness of the universe. I am in some sense an Existentialist Gambler. American Football, golf, boxing, boxing while golfing, hockey, nude dodgeball (aka Nudgeball), European football, Olympic events, lawn bowling, Chinese kite fights and so on. I don’t care. I’ve bet on them all. Usually ten bucks on the outcome. Sometimes I’ll be given odds if the matchup is so wonky and lop-sided that I’ll surely lose my money and the person feels bad for me. Yes, there’s honor among gamblers. Then I’ll be given 2:1 odds. I lose more than I win which leads me to believe that gambling is a bit of a skill and some type of numbers game.
With This Ring
Before my father retired from the Department of Highways, he ran the stock room. If you worked in any capacity under his workplace umbrella and you needed anything: from a handful of screws to equipment, tools etc. you had to go through my old man. He was the Gate Keeper, and with “great power comes great responsibility”. Spiderman’s Uncle Ben has been credited with this quote, as is François-Marie Arouet known by his nom de plume Voltaire, which actually sounds like he could have been Spiderman’s arch nemesis. You know a quote is notable when no one knows who said it first. My money is on Voltaire. Wanna bet? Ten bucks? C’mon. What? Are you chicken?
As my father’s career with the department inched towards twilight, I was finishing up my degree. I was busted. Broke. Skint. I was also engaged. The tricky thing about buying an engagement ring and subsequently a wedding ring when you’re broke is that you’re broke, which means you’ve got no dough to buy an engagement ring, let alone a wedding ring. That’s where the Gambler came in. I was still living at home during the summers, and for a few months post- grad. No job. Seems like I wasn’t the only grad looking for a job. So, my father would come home after work and would routinely hand me whatever was in his pockets. He’d walk in and turn ‘em out. This was when the quarter dollar was the biggest coin in general circulation. I knew he had a good day at work when I could hear the coins coming up the walk. Crumpled green and black one-dollar bills. Bunched up orange two-dollar bills. The odd blue five-dollar bill. On a great day maybe a purple ten-dollar bill. On an epic day a few green twenties. Piles of quarters, nickels and dimes. All the daily spoils into an emptied Nabob coffee tin. His donated poker earnings paid for my wife’s two rings. Times had changed around many workplaces. I have no idea if it’s allowed. Back in my old man’s day, he played with his boss, supervisors and anyone who wanted in on the action for a little extra scratch. I don’t think it was a sanctioned coffee break activity, but it was informal and friendly, and for everyone peeking out from behind a hand of five cards fanned out just right, the playing field was even regardless of your position.
My old man knew when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em which is a good thing: if he sucked at poker my wife would be wearing a second-hand Mood Ring from a pawn shop. (Google it if you don’t know what a Mood Ring is. I always thought they were pretty cool.)