Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Don't Wanna Brag About Living in Vegas

People see me all the time and they just can't remember how to act.
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.

-Bob Dylan

725 miles behind the wheel and just like that we're back in Vegas.

Our last night in Taos I had an encounter with an older woman at a dinner party.

If I was a reality TV show you would have complained that it looked scripted. It couldn't be real. After all, I had never met this woman before. So why would she be critical of my choices?

It began innocently enough. She asked me where my wife and I lived.

Hindsight now suggests she already knew the answer.

"Vegas" I said.

Still not giving too much thought to how she'd react.

The word Vegas seems to elicit a very strong reaction from people. Tell them it's where you live. And they'll let you know what they think.

When you tag it with "I play poker" it pushes all sorts of other buttons as well.

People just love it or hate it. But either way they have an opinion. And it's usually stronger than seems warranted especially when coming from a person you've never met before.

Some strangers are supportive. They bond with me over the experience. We discuss the journey. This is fine.

Others try to rescue me. Poker is wrong for them so it must be wrong for me. This is unnecessary.

This particular 74 year old woman heard the word "Vegas" and then looked at me like clearly I had given her the wrong answer.

"Why would anyone ever want to live in Las Vegas?"

Later on it occurs to me that I'm being heckled about my choice of residency by a woman who lives in Dixon, New Mexico.

Her town's population is 1500. I think that's how many people we had in my freshman year dorm.

"Why would anyone ever want to leave Las Vegas?" I say. It feels playful.

I get a laugh from the table.

"Why would anyone want to stay?"

She was back in the lead. Clearly she was going to get the last word.

And why not?

She was certainly ahead on all of the judges scorecards.

The only problem for the other 8 people at the table was she wasn't finished yet. She turned it up slightly harsher. She actually said something referencing my intelligence and the fact that I play poker.

Her words were harsh enough for my wife to get involved and defend me.

He he.

I completely understood my wife's reaction. I would have done the exact same thing if someone started like that with her. The only difference is I would have been ruder.

The point to all this, the reason I share this story, is my behavior in handling this situation mirrors what I do at the poker table.

At the poker table I listen to what everyone has to say. I'm present and aware. But it's never personal.

Never personal is much easier said than done.

And there's a delicate balance of proper sensitivity in poker.

I need to be sensitive because I need to pay close attention. I must notice and feel everything that is going on.

I can't be sensitive because I need to stay even keel. I can't be sensitive and react emotionally to bad events. I must remain confident when bullies try to scare or intimidate me. In all these ways I cannot be sensitive.

Sensitivity in poker. It's the great contradiction.

I must feel everything. Yet feel nothing.

Maintaining serenity and calmness in life is just like a using a muscle. The more you do it the stronger you get. To go to a place where not much bothers you. A healthy detachment.

Don't be sensitive - I must be an emotional rock to my opponents.

Be sensitive - I must be a sponge soaking up all there is around me.

Later on the discussion turned to Trader Joes. How they manage to keep their prices so low.

"We just might happen to have a couple of Trader Joes in Las Vegas" I said.

"You might?" this same woman inquired.

"Well I don't wanna brag about living in Vegas...."


PJS JR. said...

Well, I for one am jealous that you live in Las Vegas. Also, I have been anxiously awaiting an update on your next poker session, and was hoping to hear about it today. I have extremely enjoyed your blog, and look forward to hearing about your continued success at the tables. Good luck!

Joe said...

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Check Raise Chin said...

Vegas is cool bro.