Monday, January 11, 2016

Walking the tight-rope


Sometimes when I write, I find it difficult not to do it without being cynical and self-defeating. It’s almost akin to walking a tightrope.

                He ascended onto the high-wire, his feet tripled its girth. His balance stick waved to and fro, bending with the wind like an overloaded barbell. He tried not to look down, but became consumed with the thought. Not the thought of dying, but of looking down to see just how deep the sky goes. How long he would have to spend cascading to his splattering doom wondering, “did I leave the crockpot on? Even if I did, those things are meant to run forever, right? If there were an electrical problem, it would just cause a short due to fancy technology and safety regulations, right? What if it’s on for several days, and the juices have all cooked out of the roast and the potatoes catch fire..” SPLAT.

                Birds didn’t even fly by, he was so high. His stomach gurgled and he regretted the handle of bourbon from the night before. Like, he would have never bet his buddies he could traverse a tight-rope if he wasn’t plowed from Jim Beam. He was a cab driver for Christ’s sake. Even worse, he would have never eaten all of those greasy tacos in a drunken stupor, which is also pretty bad for your health. He worried that an El Nino fart brewing from bourbon and tacos would be just the gust of wind to undo his equilibrium and send him bobbing for concrete.

                “Get yourself together,” he confided in himself, “this is exactly like that time you thought you couldn’t stay awake through another episode of MasterChef, but you did it, damnit. And that Indian vegan chick cooked a perfect medium rare filet, and it was a beautiful moment. This will be your vegan filet.”

                He neared the half-way point, his knees shook like a white NBA player being chased down on a fast break. He thought about all of the good things in life he would never get to do again if he died, like shining laser pens at oncoming drivers on the freeway, or dipping French fries into milkshakes, cause it’s so wrong that it’s right. Oh how he would miss the euphoria of executing a perfect handshake with a black guy, the rare and momentous highlight of some truly memorable days.

                As he continued he had a slight hitch, and the two people watching let out a barely audible groan, because nobody knows or cares when a cab driver decides to walk a tight-rope. I mean, he announced it on Twiter, but he only had 12 followers despite a ton of witty and controversial posts. Mostly memes. Even most of his friends who dared him to do this didn’t show up because they couldn’t call out of work. He considered his legacy. He would forever be known as an honorable gentleman who didn’t back down from a bet. Like the time he did the cinnamon challenge, and threw up profusely. Or the time his buddy bet he wouldn’t ask a girl if she liked cider, and when she said yes, he said “what about dickincider?” and she punched him square in the nose because even girls train in mixed martial arts now. He started to notice a pattern and his fright began to overtake him. What about his newborn child, growing up without a father? Then he realized it was better than his son growing up with a fraidy cat for a father.

                And just then, as the sun shined in his eyes, he had an epiphany. The rope was just a metaphor for the fear that had held him back his whole life. If it wasn’t for that fear, he would’ve quit his job and became a musician just like he had always dreamed. He would’ve went to the gym and gotten ripped instead of growing soft and doughy on the couch. He could have the life of his dreams, and it was the fear of failure that was stopping him. And then his knee gave out and he fell, realizing that not everything is a metaphor with a deeper meaning you self-indulgent, pretentious dummy.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Feeling sad from a break up? Steak up.

Don't know what to do when you wake up? Steak. Up.

Amount of time spent listening to Drake up? Steak up.

You might be asking yourself: why would he put a picture with vegetables in this clearly steak-biased piece? Doesn't he have the whole world of Google Images at his fingertips and the ability to hand-pick one of six billion pictures of steak available? If you noticed the vegetables, you definitely need to steak upBrussels-sprout a pair, buddy.

            I found myself flummoxed recently. Broken hearted and moping around, I was weak, bereft of all of the power I once felt. My world lacked contrast and seemed to be a collection of grey hues and rain clouds. And then, as if delivered from the dream gods, I woke up and the solution was sizzling on the edge of my tongue. It's not every day that a man comes up with an idea that could change the world. Much less one that is delivered through whatever recent dream-god-technology is out there without any previous prayers or even acknowledging of the existence of said gods. But let us not make this all about them, for they are humble gods, and I'm from a generation of entitlement.

       I got in my car one morning, drove to the store and picked up a pair of Rib-eyes. I slapped them on the cutting board and as I applied the kosher salt and cracked black pepper, I felt a change in my demeanor. By the time the grill had been sufficiently heated I already felt my moribund day reviving.

Did you know that 93% of people aren't getting enough steak in their diets?1 I could just point out with anecdotal evidence how awesome steak made me feel and offer up testimonial after testimonial of proud steak eaters, but that would just be too easy. And my friends are taking their sweet time writing fake testimonials. Lazy writers.

Protein. You may have heard of it. Protein is responsible for things like preserving muscle tissue, supporting brain function, providing energy, and boosting your immune system. Another interesting thing about high protein foods is that they increase satiety and decrease appetite. In short, they satisfy you. But if things like cell growth and repair aren't important enough to you, steak offers other benefits.

Steak is a great source of: phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, niacin, vitamin B6(yes, that's ANOTHER B vitamin), and riboflavin. Steak is also a great source of saturated fat, which has a bad reputation but current science shows is actually good for you.

                                      Practical Application

 I know this is somewhat mind blowing due its simplicity and you’re wondering how to get started. Rather than bore you with a bunch of statistics I made up, I'm going to show you how to employ the philosophy in your own life. Don’t hold off, there’s time to make up. Steak up. Here’s some sample scenarios in which steaking-up can help you.

Problem 1: You’re attempting to get re-elected as the President of the United States. In your first political debate against your opponent, you come out looking soft. Your opponent uses half-truths and some solid tip-toeing around questions to win the debate in the eyes of the public. Your supporting group of democrats start losing faith, the country is at risk of handing the reins to a Mormon. Time to steak up.

Recommend dosage:

One steak chili sourdough bowl from Claim Jumper. Note the way the steak is overflowing from the edible bowl. When you're trying to figure out how much steak to eat, some key words are: overflowing, gluttonous, retarded, or Herculean amounts.

Problem 2: You’re watching Netflix with your boyfriend and he gets a text message. You want to look, but you don’t want to seem jealous. You ask who it is and he says, “oh just a friend.” He announces that he has to “use the restroom” because after two years together he still doesn’t feel comfortable telling you that he’s got to take a shit. You see his phone sitting on the night stand and don’t know what to do. There’s potentially a bitch out there trying to step on your territory.

Recommended Dosage:

5 oz. bacon wrapped filet. That’s right, ladies can steak up too. Jealousy doesn’t look good on anyone. Chances are you know whether your man is cheating on you or not. Imagine if Miles Davis was looking down from heaven on your every move and saw you looking like a sneak trying to check your boyfriend’s texts? You don’t want to disappoint Miles Davis, do you? Eat your filet and search your own heart for the answers. And if he’s cheating on you, use those protein filled muscles to punch him in the dick.

Problem 3: You’re heart broken. You’ve been left in the cold by a girl you thought was the one. You’ve begged and pleaded for her to take you back, promising you’ll conform to whatever would make her happy. You tell her you’ll even stop watching football with the boys and drinking so much. She doesn’t waver, so you go to the last resort, the mix tape. The first song you put on there is “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. The next is “Hey there Delilah” by the Plain White T’s.

Recommended Dosage:

Prime rib. As much of it as you can eat. Listen buddy, she doesn’t want to be with you anymore. Chances are if you somehow manage to get her to stay with you for a couple more months, she’s going to be having sex with the guy she really wants to be having sex with anyways. It’s time to realign your steak chakras and get back out there. Do something amazing. Don’t even worry about getting a new girl, just work on your steak intake as well as time management and following your passion.

As evidenced here, there are many varieties of steak and various uses for them all. It doesn’t take an expert to diagnose and prescribe, it’s a trial and error process. But I am here for questions. This is merely an introduction into the philosophy that changed my life, and could change yours too.

                   Coming Soon: The Steak Scale.
1) lol

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Experience Pt.3

This is part of a fictional series of stories based on stuff that I've seen working on Fremont Street. Just think of it like that guy who wrote all those memoirs and got exposed and had to apologize on Oprah, except I'm telling you that it's bullshit at the beginning. I embellished

 “Climb with me to the highest conceivable pillars ladies and gentleman. It is time that we rise above this bureaucratic malarkey and embrace the human spirit for what it is. Kindness, passion, love, all subverted by the need for material possessions.” A man preached under the thousands of flashing bulbs outside of the Golden Nugget. The sweat trickled down his dark shiny skin and he lifted his tweed jacket to wipe it.

“It is time for the end of capitalism,” he said. The midget Elvis impersonator next to him strummed an air guitar and danced.

“It's time for the end of war... of nationalism... we must unite as one entity. We have the resources to ensure that nobody goes hungry, yet we horde them all to protect our own family and we ignore the fact that we are all brothers. We are all part of this super-organism that is the earth. Merely collections of cells built to work symbiotically for the greater good, but we have been distracted. Oh how we have been distracted.”

I stood against a pillar watching the old man attempt to save society one drunkard at a time, occasionally his sounds were outweighed by the screaming children passing by on the zip-line. This guy didn't have the normal motives of preachers on Fremont; religious promotion(and of course donations). His legitimacy intrigued me. Any minute now he was going to pull out a jingling cup of change.

“Quit your useless job today. Create something. Love somebody. Go somewhere. Love everybody,” he said with a smile, his rage calming into happiness.

“Can I get a picture with you?” a young girl wielding a three-foot long alcoholic beverage asked.

“A picture?”

“Yeah.” She put her arm around him. He faked a smile and she threw up a crooked peace sign. She pulled two dollars out of her bra and handed it to him.

“No, I don't want your,” he started to try to give the money back, but she had already found herself in the arms of Captain Jack Sparrow.

“Yo ho, yo ho!” they yelled together as the black man shook his head and stuffed the two dollars into his pocket.

“We are so transfixed with the idea of being comfortable that we have forgotten to strive for greatness,” he began. A horn blared as a car almost ran over a pedestrian text messaging as they crossed the street. The pedestrian didn't even look up. A chain reaction of horns ensued as the taxi drivers battled for position on the side of the street. The man watched the chaos and felt himself jarred when a security guard on a Segway bumped into him trying to get to the clueless jaywalking pedestrian. He composed himself.

“Stop giving your money to these casinos. We have become so attached to material possessions that we will risk the money we wasted our precious and limited time attaining for the small, unlikely chance that we might double up on Fremont street. Give your money to charity if you wish to unload it that bad. Donate to your child's school.” I wondered how long it would be before somebody stopped this guy, dragged him out by his arms as he preached freedom and peace.

“Who are you supposed to be?” a man with a “This Guy Needs a Beer” shirt on asked.

“Who am I supposed to be? I am you, and you are me. I am earth. I am part of one big cancerous organism and I know the cure.” he replied.

“Oh I get it, you're like...Tracy Morgan?”

“What the hell is a Tracy Morgan?” The man asked.

“That crazy actor from that show...the guy who said he would disown his kid if he were gay. Who are you then?”

“I am the man standing behind the boulder of change, pushing with all of my might and suggesting that you might help me push this boulder. Alone I can not budge it one inch, but together we could throw it through the window of our corrupt government. In a sense, yes, I am Tracy Morgan. Just like I am Alexander the Great. Genghis Khan. Their greatness is in my grasps, as well as it is in yours.”

“Well, you don't really look like Genghis Khan. Can I get a picture anyway?”

“Two dollars,” he said with a sigh.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Experience Pt.2

 This is part of a fictional series of stories based on stuff that I've seen working on Fremont Street. Just think of it like that guy who wrote all those memoirs and got exposed and had to apologize on Oprah, except I'm telling you that it's bullshit at the beginning. I embellished. 

     Two things that should not be combined: heartbreak and swing shift. Could there be any more impetus to make terrible decisions than to be getting off work on Fremont street at two-thirty in the morning with a fresh wound and be expected to make logical choices?

         But even I wouldn't resort to a Fremont street hooker. I was sitting at the bar after my shift the other night, collecting my thoughts and to be honest a little alcohol makes it easier to sleep when you have to unwind at three in the morning. The screen in front of me was desperate for my attention, pretending to show me straight flushes or four cards to the Royal. I decided quickly I wouldn't fall in to that trap. But the free drinks make everything somewhat copasetic. A girl near me started talking to me.

       “You look young, you just start here?” she asked me. Her tiny skirt did not fit with the winter weather. It never gets unbearably cold in Vegas, but she did everything short of having Bruce Buffer announce that she was a working girl. There's little room for discretion in these matters. Or need for it, for that matter. The security guards are in on it, they have to be.

“Yeah, it's my third week.” I told her. I got a good look at her, she had light brown eyes and a great smile.

“Ah, you spend that first paycheck yet?” she asked. So blunt and quick to dip into my financial situation. I don't know if her tactics are subtle to the average drunk idiot at the bar, but they seemed pretty blatant to me. But I was bored.

“Nope, I'm pretty good with my money. Direct deposited right into the old savings account. I just try to live off of my tips and save the paychecks.”

               “You make pretty good tips? Usually the cute ones make bank.” I think the biggest difference between hookers and interaction with normal girls is that hookers like to center the conversation on you, whereas normal girls like you to ask them questions about them. Or at least this is how I felt as I sat heartbroken at the bar. Her ploy was starting to work on me. For some reason I respected her blatant honesty. We could just cut through all of the pussyfooting and tact that happens in normal courting and get down to brass tax. And it was nice having someone who wanted to talk about me.
“I do alright. Had a really good night tonight,” I fibbed a bit. I tried to do the logistics of the deal in my head. Do I get an employee discount? Maybe a non-weirdo rebate that I get back a week later? Okay, don't go down that road. Let's end this now.

“Awesome. Hey this bar is kind of cold, would you want to go somewhere else?” she asked.

“Nah, I'd better get home. Gotta go to the DMV as soon as they open tomorrow.”

“Well, everybody thinks the DMV is empty first thing in the morning, but there's always a line. It's best to go around ten after that line goes away.”

“Thanks for the tip. Have a good night,” I said. I went home and slept well that night. I went back to the bar the next night, wondering if I'd see her spitting game at some other sucker. The bartender set a napkin down in front of me.

“So what did you have to do last night that was so important?” he asked.

“Huh? I went home and crashed, why?”

“I was thinking you might have had a better excuse for turning down that girl last night than the DMV, unless you're just a pussy, which is totally cool.”

“The working girl?”

“That wasn't a working girl you idiot. I work the graveyard shift every night here, I know the hookers, and that girl is not one of them. Notice how she didn't look like a meth head.”

“Vodka tonic, please.” I folded my arms and put my head down while he squeezed the lime into my drink until it was a ball of stringy remnants curled into the fetal position.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Experience Pt.1

This is part of a fictional series of stories based on stuff that I've seen working on Fremont Street. Just think of it like that guy who wrote all those memoirs and got exposed and had to apologize on Oprah, except I'm telling you that it's bullshit at the beginning. I embellished.

I stood in the elevators with two other people cascading down the employee parking garage when one of them said, “sure is eerie riding this elevator knowing somebody jumped off the top of the garage yesterday.” The woman was in her early fifties, wearing a dealer's outfit of slacks and a vest over a button up. Her hair looked like it had been sprayed into the same mold for twenty years straight. It stood in perfect alignment like a Spartan Phalanx, or freshly mowed blades of uniform grass.

Personally, if I were to jump off a building, it would be double digits in floors. I'm just saying, seven stories sounds like if you landed the right way you might just end up disfigured for the rest of your life. I swear I've seen a television special where a girl was skydiving with a baby in her womb she didn't know about and crashed to the ground and the baby survived. I don't want to take my chances with anything less than fourteen, fifteen stories.

This was something like my second week working on Fremont. The Experience. A microcosm of tortured souls. Alcoholics, homeless, street performers, power hungry bosses, prostitutes, all lurking around every corner. Not to mention all of the inconsiderate tourists that don't look where they're walking.
As I exited the elevator I surveyed the area where the man committed suicide the day before. It didn't look clean, none of the pavement downtown looks clean. But it certainly didn't look how I expected it to look; ie blood stains, perhaps a dislodged finger that nobody bothered to pick up. The guy worked there for something like eighteen years. And that was it, even his blood stain was gone after one day. Forgotten. We can't have that kind of bloodshed on display so close to the entertainment.

I think the guy was a porter, which for those who aren't familiar with the casino terminology, is kind of like a janitor. Some tough guy has too many shots at the bar, pukes all over the floor, and who cleans it up? The bartender, right? Nope, the porter. Haven't you ever wondered what happened to all those cups you left on the floor or near a machine when you were drunk and didn't care? Some old guy making a decent wage who has been cleaning up after drunk idiots for eighteen years cleaned it up. Clearly we see where that can lead.

I had a long day at work. Dealing blackjack can be brutal. My table is near the craps tables where every five minutes or so some annoying group of girls yells, “WOOOOO!!!” Blackjack can be a very fast game where people lose a lot of money before they realize it. People are always getting angry, sometimes at each other because one guy doesn't know how to play right. And people are drunk. They think I miscount and they yell. The pit boss reviews the tape and they get a free meal even though I didn't miscount.

“Stay after for a drink?” Rick, the craps dealer asked me.
“No, I'm broke man.”

“The first one's free, you get a free post-shift drink,” he said.

That's a thing? No wonder these people get stuck here. I declined anyways, I had not adjusted to being up so late yet, and I just wanted to go to sleep. Two-thirty in the morning would eventually become the norm for me, but at this point it was foreign. At two-thirty in the morning there aren't many people left on the streets. The performers have retired their costumes for the night, and most people have either overdosed or passed out by that time. It caught me off guard when a guy asked me if I was driving home. As opposed to what? Walking?

“Yeah, I'm driving. Why?” I responded.

“Do you think I could get a ride man? I'm desperate. It's just down a few blocks, I lost my friends. I could really use some help man, please,” he said. He didn't look threatening. Smaller than me, and certainly less sober. Although I'm not sure what he was high on.

“Sure,” is what an idiot would say. And that's what I said. The guy seemed genuinely in need of help. We walked to my car and he thanked me a few times.

“Do any drugs?” he asked. Not the kind of question you normally get within the first five minutes of a conversation anywhere else.

“Not really, no. Weed sometimes. Why?”

“I think I got some at the crib I can give you for the ride. I just really appreciate it man,” he reiterated.

“I'm good man. Don't worry about it.”

He pointed me the direction to go and off we went. He looked paranoid. He grabbed his face.

“I think my jaw is broken,” he said.

“What? Seriously?”

“Me and my homie got into it with this dude over his girl. He hit me first, but we lit him up real good after that. Dude's face was messed up.”

Something I would have liked to had been informed of before I let the guy into my car. I think he was full of shit. I haven't been around too many broken jaws, but I'm pretty sure he would have been in severe pain and his speech would have been messed up. Either way, he was a dick.

“Shit. See the cop cars over by 7-11? We've got to keep driving a little bit. Go down the road a little further,” he said. Is this where I get lured into the middle of the ghetto and get robbed? I watched to make sure he wasn't itching towards some sort of weapon. I had to take control of this situation.

“Dude I'm going to throw my hat out the window,” he said.

“No, don't do that.”

“They might recognize the black hat,” he shivered out of frustration.

“It's going to look suspicious if you throw a hat out the window. You're being paranoid. Nobody's looking at my car. My shit is registered, my brake lights work, I have no warrants...just tell me where to let you out.”

“Over there I guess.”

Never again would I give somebody a ride anywhere near Fremont.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Experiencing the Animal Kingdom in Green Valley

Although we feel every malicious step the summer takes towards us, the heat has not yet arrived in full force, and the Samaritans of Las Vegas are stuck in between turning on the air conditioner, or opening windows and doors. In a household consisting of three young males, the door stays open.

There are a few things in our house that might be attractive to a stray dog; scattered Kibbles and/or Bits, a bottle of ketchup on the floor that nobody can explain, but namely my roommates’ dog Megan. Megan is a small Beagle mix with a cute face and personality. She tends to chew on shoes, but she doesn’t have the jaw strength to complete the destruction. It still seemed strange when we heard the non-threatening yelp of a miniature pinscher at our door late in the evening.

We looked at the dog as he filibustered at our door. By we I mean me, Scotty in one of his trademark pro-rap or pro-weed shirts, and Ken, probably dominating at a video game at the time. The unfortunate thing about a miniature pinscher, or a mini-pin as some lame people I have run into at the dog park refer to them as, is that they have the markings of the powerful Doberman, but none of the pinache. They’re like a little dog with a Napoleon complex, barking at things that tower over them.

We were intrigued by his brashness, although we didn’t like his manners. We stood up and he ran out into the street. We did what anybody else with nothing better to do would do, and followed him outside. Megan chased behind us to watch the scene unfold. It was clear to me that there was a connection. I suggested that the dog was here not for violence, but for reproductive purposes. The idea didn’t catch on quickly.

“I told you,” I shouted as we looked in the back yard and saw the mini-pin mounting our sweet little companion only a few minutes later. He had slipped his fragile little body through the gate and ran his game. Although the fairy tale of dog courtship is not that cut and dry. Megan was fending him off, she did not want nor need his services.

“Maybe they already finished, and she just thought it was just alright,” Scotty said, connecting the dots first. It was obvious at this point that we had to intervene. We approached it to eradicate it and the mini pin lunged at Scotty with a bark, but to no avail as he just leaned back, balling his hand into a fist in case of emergency.

We discussed what a terrible guest this little dog was. You don’t sneak into somebody’s back yard, have sex with their dog, and then threaten them. Then the dog did the unspeakable. He squatted and pooped. Things got out of hand after that. There were scuffles. Names were called. We chased him out and he retreated into the street. We went and watched television, ten minutes later we see him mounting Megan again in the back yard. We chased him back into the street. It took two or three cycles before we realized that Megan was just crawling out my bedroom window by jumping on my bed.

By this time we felt like disappointed fathers when their daughter brings home a guy who is way less than what they deserve, and despite what they tell her she just keeps seeing him because, “we’re meant to be together forever” at seventeen years old is really going to happen.

It was probably a good thing Megan had a little maturing experience, but it’s times like these that I wish my roommates had a Rottweiler for instances when mini-pins roll up trying to act like a boss so we can get some real nature in this house.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Much ado about Nutting

Much ado about Nutting

Because an eye grabbing headline gets ratings. Irrelevant or not.

Actually a title of a Looney Tunes episode. Turns out I'm not as clever as I thought, again.

I reached into my bankroll with plans on nurturing it. If you live in Vegas and you don’t have a bankroll, then you aint doin’ it right. I had been steadily grinding mine up to one hundred and eighty dollars with some savvy football bets. Basically, I got lucky.

A bankroll starts as a dream. It’s when you tell yourself, “I’m going to do this right. I’m going to gamble the smart way.” It’s delusional, but it seems like a way to keep yourself from gambling your life away. Most people just lose money until they end up sitting at a slot machine just hoping to break even and drink for free.

In theory a bankroll is something you should be rigorous and stern about. In practice, a bankroll is very malleable. It can be used like an instrument tuner; as long as you’re in that yellow zone between in and out of tune, you can get by. Any bankroll expert has their own methods, and current theory would dictate that you never use more than ten percent of your bankroll on one bet. Five percent is probably high.

Sometimes though, you must take calculated risks if you ever want to play in the big leagues.

And if you consider taking a pot cookie and spending about half of your bank roll on a poker tournament with no preparation calculated, then I took a risk just so.

It was ten thirty in the morning and I was on my way from the gym to the MGM. The pot cookie was delicious, with little peanut butter morsels. I could faintly taste the marijuana, but I could see how one might eat the cookie and never even know. I’d never consumed pot in that manner before. I’d heard it is a completely different experience from smoking. Remember that story a few years back when the two cops ate some kid’s pot brownie and called the cops on themselves saying they were leaving the universe? I figured my odds of winning the tournament were very slim. Then I remembered that a major league pitcher once threw a no-hitter in the throes of an LSD trip.

People started trickling to the tables and the tournament started a few minutes after eleven. I didn’t feel high yet, and I sized up the competition to see if anybody looked solid. Across from us circled around a table there were a bunch of cowboys in town for the PBR event. Somebody asked if they were in our tournament and I made a joke that your hat must be “this” tall to play in that tournament. Everybody chuckled and the host of the room announced that the cards were to be in the air.

On the first hand a wispy looking old man with saggy forearms next to the dealer asked, “so how does the betting sequence work? This is no limit, right?” The dealer looked at him like he just asked if he could eat his asshole, and a couple people sighed. Everybody wants an idiot at the table, but nobody wants the guy who holds up the game because he doesn’t know how to play. Part of me wondered if this guy was a shark trying to pretend he doesn’t know how to play. I chalked it up to me being jaded from growing up in Las Vegas. Recognizing shady people like that is integral to survival. I wasn’t high yet, so I ordered a screwdriver. It’s free, why not?

A few hands later this overconfident guy who would play on his phone as soon as he was out of every hand put the old man all in. The old man called and as the lax guy turned over his top pair, the old man turned over a full house and knocked him out of the tournament. He played solid the rest of the day, and my gut feeling was confirmed. This guy probably recited that same line at casinos around town every day, twice a day. That motherfucker. By this point I was thoroughly high, and considering that this whole tournament might be a conspiracy.

How many of these guys work here?

I was starting to lose my grip on things. I looked up at the clock and the first break wasn’t for another fifty minutes. I could get up and walk around a bit, but I had already lost about half of my stack and couldn’t afford to miss the blinds. I remember thinking about how cool the felt table felt on my fingers, then thinking that I was way too high to be playing for keeps.

This is just the warm-up game, right?

The blinds kept going up and my stack kept dwindling. I got very low, doubled up, and was still low in relation to the blinds. About twenty minutes before the break our table split up and we filled up the other three tables. They give you this little plastic rack for your chips when you move tables, but my puny stack fit just fine in the palm of one hand. So I meandered around with my chip stack in one hand and the empty plastic rack in the other until the host finally sat me down in my rightful spot. I asked the dealer where to put the empty rack and he said, “just throw it behind you, and make sure you don’t hit anybody.”

Dude, can you not fuck with me while I’m this high?

The table laughed. I had no comeback, so I sat the thing under the table in defeat. The lady sitting directly to the right of me cackled. She had a big stack and an attitude. She represented a common archetype of the female player at a casino. She was cocky and insulting on the surface, but it was obvious she was trying too hard to compensate. She celebrated with a high pitched squeal after every hand she won. A few hands later I won some chips, and I didn’t immediately give my cards back to the dealer (you try stacking a pile of chips while high), so of course she was on the ball saying, “you have to give those back, no matter how good they were.” I smiled because there’s no winning in arguing with a girl at a poker table, and hated her internally.

Finally the game went to break. I realized I went to the gym and never ate anything afterwards, but I didn’t have time to wait for food to cook. I figured some Starbucks would hold me over. Maybe it would even bring me back down from the stratosphere. I took a minute to check out the lion habitat, which was pretty much the most amazing thing possible at the time, even though the lions were sleeping. I’d probably seen the lion habitat about twenty times in my life, but never under those certain circumstances. I feared for the lives of the two young guys in the glass with the lions. I felt bad for the lions. My mood was plummeting almost as low as my chip stack.

I sat back down and the blinds had grown again. A few hands later I was convinced that it was my time to go home. I got Ace-King and planned on going all-in immediately. The second guy to act went all in, and the guy next to him went all in as well. That’s basically the worst situation AK could be in. It’s the kind of hand you want to go one-on-one with. I called anyways, because I had to, and I was surprisingly far ahead when the cards are turned over. It held up and I tripled up. Things weren’t so bad after all.

The next hand a guy went all in against the preachy annoying girl and she had him dominated with two pair until he got a straight on the river. Only she didn’t realize he got a straight, and she did a Tiger Woods fist pump which she actually had to stand up from her seat to perform. Then the dealer said, “straight.”

She sat down and huffed and called bullshit. I smiled. The guy apologized for the bad beat. Some people do that, I don’t. Maybe he apologized in hopes of getting laid. I might do that.

The next hand I knocked her out the tournament and she threw her cards in like an angsty teenager and walked off. I wanted to hand her my plastic rack and ask her to hand it to the host on the way out, but I would actually need it with my current chip stack. Justice was already had, no need to rub it in.

I struggled to stack my chips, still very high and my arms weren’t responding correctly to what I was telling them to do as they were sore from the gym and needed nourishment. I knocked over my empty Starbucks cup and the guy next to me said, “I think you’ve had too much coffee.”

I’m a writer buddy, there’s no such thing as too much coffee.

I dominated quite a few hands after this, and shortly after we were at the final table.

The red ones are 1,000 and the purple 500. Chip stack: Aprox 55-60k.

That was my stack upon entering the final table. We hit another break and I spent the whole time text messaging my friends that I might actually place in the money. I was no longer high at this point. I got a bottle of water, put in my headphones and decided to get serious.

I played the final table aggressively. The top five people got paid, so I knew that a lot of buttholes would be tightening up with people just trying to survive. By the time there were five of us left, I had three times as many chips as the guy behind me. I cruised the rest of the way, even getting pocket Aces for the first time in the whole tournament and wrecking my nearest competitor. By the time there were two of us left, I had about fifteen times as many chips as the other guy and it was only a matter of time. He seemed so worn down and helpless after five hours of playing that he didn’t even attempt to win. He would be content with his seven hundred dollar second place.

When I knocked him out I immediately took a picture of my chip stack, because I don’t adhere to the phrase “act like you’ve been there before” that coaches preach. I had never won a thousand dollars before. I tipped the dealer fifty bucks(like a boss), bought my girlfriend some flowers, and called it a day.

The brown ones are 5,000 and the reds are still 1000. Chip stack: approximately all dem bitches. Todos. 100%.

Needless to say I learned some things. I learned that pot cookies get you very high, but not interplanetarily high like I had expected. I learned that sometimes you make the completely wrong move and get rewarded for it anyways, because that’s how life, like poker, works sometimes. And now I have nine hundred extra dollars to misuse somehow, because poor people still spend money like poor people even when they have more of it.