In the last blog, I discussed my personal policy on panhandlers.
What I didn’t include in that post was my dealings with poker players who ask to borrow money. They are the casino cousins of the street version, with the difference being that the street people who have never played in their lives are probably better at poker.
Because you generally play with the same people all the time, you develop a familiarity and in many cases a friendship with these players. Thus it’s not uncommon to see people passing money back and forth like it’s the guac at a football party.
When I first started playing recreationally, I’d hear stories from the 70s about poker loans that reached five or six figures, and they were told with a level of nonchalance that was shocking to a guy whose net worth was less than the smallest of these loans. Personally I witnessed loans of a couple thousand dollars going to and from people whose net worth was probably not much greater than mine.
Pretty much anyone who has ever played poker has been burned on a poker loan at least once. I never loaned out more than a few hundred dollars, and can only remember being stiffed twice. But those two happened more or less simultaneously, and they more or less ended my participation in the money-swapping business. Missy was probably more mad about it than I was, and she told me to use her as the bad guy anytime anyone asked me for a loan. So I just told people my wife wouldn’t let me do it.
It was pretty stupid for me to ever do it anyway, since I was never on the receiving end of one of these loans. A couple of times I have gone to the casino and forgotten my poker money, which seems like something nobody would be stupid enough to do. Only once or twice have I ever borrowed money to play, and those were from some of my closest friends. Usually I would realize it when I was halfway to the casino and make a slight detour to my bank to withdraw my own money. Once I’m at the casino and playing, if I ever run out of money, that’s the end of my day at the poker table. I always felt awkward about losing someone else’s money, and I can’t even imagine losing money I had no means of repaying. To me, the choice between paying a $5 ATM fee to access my own money or borrowing from someone else is a no-brainer.
But obviously gambling can take a serious hold on some people and cause them to do things they wouldn’t do in their normal lives. And some people are just shitheads. (Poop reference #1! I bet you were wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this blog.)
In 1975 it made a lot more sense to need to borrow money from a friend. Many poker games were held in underground spots that were frequently robbed or busted by the cops, so there was reason to not carry around a lot of cash even if the game you were playing in was pretty big. And it’s not like there was an ATM on every corner like there is now. In 2019, I figure if you don’t have a way to get your own money into a poker game, it’s probably best to just not play that day. There are only a handful of people I’d loan money to and they are my closest friends.
Of course, those people never ask me for a loan because they don’t need one. When I do get asked, there’s a 95% chance the phrase, “You know I’m good for it” will be invoked. Generally when I decline it’s not a big deal, the guy just says he understands and moves on. Maybe he’s pissed at me but I don’t really know or care.
One guy who asked me and my friends for loans several times was named Jack. He was a quirky dude but he was nice enough. Made some crazy plays at the poker table which occasionally led to him really cleaning up but more frequently led to him needing a loan.
One night a few years back he asked me for a loan. I declined. He then went and played at a smaller-stakes game than the one I was in. A few hours later, probably around 1 a.m., I cashed out and was about to head home. Jack cornered me, said he’d just lost in his game and asked me again for a loan. I again declined. He said he didn’t want more money for poker, he needed $50 to get a cab or an Uber ride home from the casino because the guy he rode with had left earlier.
Much like my policy on the panhandlers, I didn’t want to give Jack cash that probably wouldn’t be used to get him a ride home and probably wouldn’t ever be repaid to me. I also wanted him to get home safely. I was heading home and I had a perfectly good car and nowhere else I had to be at 1 a.m. so I offered to give him a ride.
(Several people who know this story think I was stupid to offer him a ride because of the risk of getting robbed by Jack. Obviously I suppose it was in play but he was probably 20 years older than I and not in good health. I didn’t see that as a risk or I wouldn’t have done it.)
We were at Riverwind, which is about 15 miles south of Oklahoma City. I live in South OKC. Jack lived way up in Northwest OKC near Edmond. Basically it added an hour onto what would have been a 30-minute trip home.
On the drive I asked him about his kids. He gushed about his daughter, who was about 9 years old at the time. After talking about her for 10 minutes, he said, “I also have a son who is grown up. He’s a piece of shit.” (Poop reference #2!) Kind of an awkward silence after that because I didn’t know what to say. Jack filled in the void by telling me exactly why he was a POS for the next 30 minutes.
Finally we get within a couple of miles of Jack’s house. We’re off the highway but not into the neighborhood yet. Out of nowhere Jack yells, “Pull over right now. I’ve got to take a piss.”
I ask if he knows if there’s a convenience store nearby. He says, “I ain’t got time for that. I’m about to piss all over myself and your car. You need to pull over now.”
I’m not really sure what to do because we are on a 40-mph street with no open businesses in sight. Jack points to a house on the corner of the street and yells, “Right here! Now!!”
I slam on the brakes and pull off the main road onto the side street. Jack is mumbling under his breath and fumbling with the car door. I unlock it and he sprints out of the car but only takes about three steps. He whips it out and lets it fly. I mean, he’s square in the middle of someone’s front lawn at 2 a.m. taking a whiz. My first thought was hoping that the owners didn’t happen to be gun owners who also happened to look out their window and see this. I thought about moving the car so I wasn’t in the line of fire but Jack’s door was still open. I was also sweating a police officer driving by. I wondered if I could be charged with accessory to public urination. I damn sure didn’t want to have to go down to the police station or bail him out of jail.
When he got done, Jack calmly got back in the car and told me how to get to his house. I still have no idea why he went from 0 to 60 on the need-to-piss scale so quickly. He hadn’t been drinking (in fact his liver was failing, and it would claim his life a year or so later). He never said anything about it, just thanked me for the ride when I dropped him off. It definitely ranks near the top of the list of bizarre incidents in my life.
Slightly less bizarre, but also involving bodily waste, is an incident that happened to me just a few days ago. For some reason I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I wasn’t overly depressed or anything but while I was laying there I was thinking about how I needed to do a better job of keeping my patience with the kids.
We were watching our friend’s puppy while she was out of town working, and she is a typically rambunctious puppy. She knocked over Hawk a few times which concerned me. Then she jumped up and snagged a piece of chicken off my plate while I was eating. Then Addison spilled milk at the table and made no effort to clean it up. All of this happened in a short span and I could have done a better job handling it with patience and grace. So that night while I couldn’t sleep I prayed for an extra measure of patience at home and with the kids.
I got about four hours of sleep when Hawk came into my room and woke me up to tell me he had a poopy diaper. So I’m still half asleep when I take him back to his room to change it. I woke all the way up pretty quickly when I stepped into a warm, squishy substance in Hawk’s room that got right in between all my toes. Yessir, I started my day by stepping in dog poop. After praying for patience the night before. It must have been the timing of that prayer because I somehow managed to hold my shit together, making me the only member of the dog-Hawk-me triumvirate to do so. I had to hop into the bathroom on my other foot so I could clean up the dirty one, then clean up the poop on the floor of Hawk’s room, then clean up Hawk and his dirty diaper.
I took the kids to the gym where I worked out for an hour or so. On the way home, Myra said, “You know Sadie pooped in our room too, right?” I did not know this, or else I would have cleaned that up immediately instead of letting that smell marinate in the girls’ room for a couple of additional and unnecessary hours.
Growing up in the church, I’d always heard the phrase, “Be careful when you ask God for patience, He might give you something to be patient about.”
Now I’ve lived it.