Then the angry man swore at me

So, some time ago, a neighbor asked me if I knew of any local poker games. Umm…no. I don’t know of anything. I sit at home and drink when I’m not working or chasing Moo around the house.

But, my father knows people so I asked him. He put me in touch with a guy (this is starting to sound very Rounders) and I asked about the game. We were invited in September, but I was in FLA. In October, MerlotMan and ChurchBomber were here. They played last Friday and I knew I had to go. Luckily for me, said neighbor was unavailable.

Into the Lion’s Den I went. Fortunately, the game has a $20 buy-in so I knew I wouldn’t lose too much money.

My poker history:
The 2nd or 2rd day on a job I started in 2000, I was invited into an office game. A new coworker assured me it was all in fun and it would be good for me to get to know everyone. I played and actually won the most money that night. I also tried to play 3 pairs in one hand. I had no clue what I was doing. We played rather irregularly over the time I worked there and I lost more than I won, but it was all in fun.

Every Thanksgiving, needing an excuse to not sit around and get plastered, we play poker. MerlotMan likes to make up different games and the 3 of us don’t care because A: we’re not playing for money and 2: we’re drunk. We also play on vacation. It’s all in fun and we have no idea what we’re doing.

JewelrySlut and I have watched Rounders about 100 times.

I watched several episodes of the World Series of Poker back in in 2003 or so.

That’s it. That’s the extent of my poker playing. When I asked for the general rules about how the local game works, I got a huge email back using a lot of words I didn’t understand. I was about to walk into a foreign land. The only saving grace was the $20. It was cheap. If I got knocked out, I could leave or play “the money game” in another room. The latter sent shivers up my spine. They play winner take all and set some money aside for a year end payout.

So, I arrived and walked into a house full of flabby men, all at least 15 years older than me. They were all excitedly regaling each other with tales from their conquests on varied poker websites.

Oh crap…they were REALLY serious.

We drew cards and got seated. $20 buys you $3000 in chips. I had a lovely looking stack in front of me. I’m to the left of the dealer (out of the blinds) and scared to death. I think, to avoid looking horrified, I shoved in enough chips to see the flop. I quickly folded afterwards. That was my plan…fold everything. As long as I wasn’t in the blinds (seats where betting is mandatory), I could play for free and watch the game develop. I was hoping to start noticing trends or something. I just got more confused. I decided to only stay in a hand if I had pocket pairs of 2 cards of the same suit (one bring an ace). I even managed to win a few hands. I didn’t realize I’d won them until people told me, but winning is winning.

The guy next to me busted out and so did a few others in the other rooms. I’d survived the first wave of cuts! It was time to consolidate tables. I was shuttled off to the dining room.

By now, about 6 people were out, so the rest of us had their $18,000. Minimum bets had gone up and I was in a new room. A room filled with VERY serious-looking people. The guy next to me looked like he could be an extra on Rescue Me. Irish as can be and angry. He was also shaking violently. The table was bouncing. I figured it was best not to say anything because I liked being alive.

(Here’s where the story gets really boring)

I folded for a while until I suddenly had something like Ace-5 in my hand. The flop brought out a pair of aces and another 5. HOLY SHIT! I had a full house!!!! I bet a little more. It was me and Seamus McTwitchy. 4th Street brought some card or another. The River (look at me all cute-like using terminology) brought out another Ace. I was stoked. I had a full house!

With determination in my voice and regret that there wasn’t a camera to record this moment, I uttered the immortal “I’m all in” and pushed in all my chips.

Seamus swore. He had more chips than I did, so he called. I turned over my cards and the room went wild.

The host looked at me just before I turned them and said “Nice Ace”. I was baffled. How did he know?

“Did you see my cards?”
“No…why else did you go all-in? You had the 4th ace”

OH SHIT! I had 4 aces. I had no idea. I saw the hand all wrong. I still thought I had a full house when, in actuality, I had 4 of a kind. Seamus, not thinking I had the Ace, called my bet. He figured we’d split the pot because what was going to beat our combined 3 aces and 2 5′s. Well, my 4 aces beat it. He was PISSED! The room was happy to see 4 of a kind.

I scooted ever so slightly out of range of Seamus’s fists and we played on. I was suddenly in a good chip position.

2 hands later, I had another full house. Trying to make hay while the sun shone, I pushed in again. It was down to me and a man with gnarled hands named Bruce. He called my bet. Whoopsie…Bruce had 4 of a kind. I lost half my chips all at once.

Seamus looked happy.

A few hands later, I was in bad shape. I was down to the end. It was Seamus and me. I had 2 clubs in my hand and 2 were on the table. I was close. Seamus raised the pot enough to force me all in if I wanted to see the rest of the cards. What the hell? I only had enough for 2 or 3 more hands anyway. All in I went.

People saw my clubs and, suddenly, interest in the room went up. I don’t remember what Seamus had, but a flush would beat it.

Non-club comes out. I was resigned to my fate.

Club! Flush! Woohoo!
“Get this fucking guy out of this room! I don’t care where he goes. Get him out of here!”

I peed a little bit because I suddenly had a beet-red Irishman screaming at me. Luckily someone had come by asking for players because the group in the kitchen was short. I scurried away, simply happy to be alive.

It didn’t last long in the next room. Minimum bets were $1500 and I only had like $5000 in chips. I went down in 4 hands. I went back to the dining room to report to Seamus that I’d lost and he swore at me again.

I grabbed my coat and left.

They’d started with 20 people and 9 were left when I busted out. I’d beaten half the field. That, of course, left me short $20, but I felt some sense of pride. I’d lasted longer than 10 poker nerds.

I’ve been invited back to December’s game. I won’t be going. Shmuppie will be away that weekend and the rest of us are either going to the beach or staying home and enjoying a quiet weekend. Poker-related stress does not factor into my plans.

But, they start the new tournament in January. Would it be worth $20 per month to piss some people off? It just might be.

Conundrum

Of course, there are far worse things to be worried about. But, I am who I am, and certain things bother me.

Like next September. It bothers me already.

All along, we’ve told Shmuppie that we’d go to Disney World next September. We’ve done a good job holding her back for some time now. We got out of this year by playing the St John card. But, we said that we’d go when she was on fall break next year.

Then…SWOOP! In came my mother. She decided that she NEEDED to go to Disney this year and that she just NEEDED to take Shmuppie. So, the weekend before Christmas, they will be in FLA. The ladies and my father are flying to FLA for a long weekend. They hope to be just ahead of the holiday rush.

In less civilized times, this would have pissed me off to no end because, as always, my mother swooped in on our family activities. But, know what? JewelrySlut and I don’t think we care. Want to take her to Disney over a weekend, mere hours before the holiday insanity sets in? Have at it. We’ll stay home.

The issue of next Sept remains unresolved though. Did I fail to mention that as soon as my parents learned that we may go for a week, my mother invited herself? She more or less said that there was no way we were going to WDW ad not taking her along with us. (Sad horn noise). I responded (charming son that I am) by stating that if she insisted on showing up uninvited that she would foot the bill for the hotel/condo. As it is, they have eleventy billion timeshare points and, odds are good that unless you’re JewelrySlut, and you’re reading this, you’ve been offered to use some of them by now. Everyone we know has used these points…except us. We’ve been “given” them twice as Christmas presents, yet any time we inquired about using some, we were told no. So, if she wants to come along, I’m not paying for a damn hotel room. She can.

So, here we are; looking at a trip to WDW with what will be a 9-year old and a 2-year old…and my mother. Cost aside, this has the makings of at least 12 of my worst nightmares. Throw in a clown or marionette and I’ll be twitching on the floor.

(Did you know that marionettes are evil and they scare me? Wanna know why? They combine the following things: puppet-like appearance, more often than not, clown-esqueness, and the possibility of one day becoming sentinent. A wooden clown that has the ability to move on its own? Worst. Thing. Ever.)

I’m not sure I want to go to WDW under those circumstances. As I just told JewelrySlut, we’d be taking 3 children with us and I’d be a wreck. By about 7:45 the first morning, I’d be furious and ready to leave. By Day 4, I’d be a shell of a man; reduced to rubble. There would be NOTHING enjoyable about such a trip. Every aspect of it would be horrible. Shmuppie would behave horribly. My mother would contribute. JewelrySlut and I would fight because we’d end up turning on each other. Moo, who still isn’t sure how she feels about the big blonde screechy thing, would be pissy. It’ would be a great way to spend $3000 and a week’s vacation.

That said, I just informed JewelrySlut that I would not mind going to WDW; with her…only her. That would be fun. We’d strap on comfortable shoes and have at it.

So, last night at dinner, Shmuppie brought up next year’s trip.

“Are we going to Disney next year?”
“Well…maybe. But, you’re going next month and that might be enough for you. Maybe we could go somewhere else”
(Puzzled look)
“Like…we could go back to Emerald Isle…but it would still be warm so you could go in the ocean! Wouldn’t that be fun?” (Prays she agrees)
“Yea! That would be awesome!”

A flicker of light…the light of hope was spotted in the distance. Could we get out of this? Possibly. Is it the right thing to do? Probably not.

We’re already rationalizing that we’d go when Moo was about 4. That way, she would be able to do things and Shmuppie wouldn’t be too old.

In the end, we’re kidding ourselves. We’re doomed to spend a week with my mother at the Happiest Place on Earth.

What the hell happened to Halloween?

(Puts on old man hat and pulls pants past nipples)
In my day, we went out trick or treating for hours. There were no adults present and people gave out candy! Lots of candy!

I guess if she weren’t such a nitwit, I’d be compelled to feel bad for Shmuppie. But, she doesn’t know any better, so she had fun the other night. JewelrySlut persuaded Shmuppie to play along for one last year and match her sister’s outfit. JewelrySlut wanted to dress them as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat. To say they were sickeningly cute would be an understatement. Moo didn’t wear her huge blue wig for long, but she was aware that something silly was going on and had a good time hamming for the camera for a minute or two.

As always, we went up to my parents’ house to trick or treat. In our neighborhood, nobody gives out candy, so it’s a total waste to even make the effort. Of course, by leaving the neighborhood, we become those very people, but that’s not my point. We had a quick dinner of not quite heated food (a specialty at their house) and went out at about 6:00. Until then, there had been one kid at the door. One Kid. We were out for about an hour and a half, and by then, Moo was getting tired and restless in her stroller, so we went back to the house. Apparently, very few people had come by. We’d seen very few people on the street.

Where did everyone go? Was it a Sunday thing? Was it because Raleigh doesn’t believe in Halloween? I was so confused.

Adults, and sluts in particular, have hijacked Halloween. Folks, it’s not an adult holiday. It’s a holiday for kids. It’s a night for kids to go house to house and beg for candy. It’s not an occasion to dress like a HOAR or to get blindly drunk. We have 364 other days in the year for that. Leave Halloween alone. But, that’s never going to happen. Along the way, some marketing genius convinced people that this was a major holiday and you needed to treat it as such. Whoever “they” are, they managed to build another Christmas out of this.

It’s too damned much.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are some kids on my lawn that I need to shoo away.