Experiments in sanity

“So how long have you been working from home?”

The dude had a weatherman’s voice and a sales pitch that even a jaded former-journalist could buy. He was telling me how a few thousands Washingtons could move my home from nearly-condemnable to only-on-the-verge-of-collapse.

“About a year,” I said, without thinking about it too much.

Shortly after the guy left me with three estimates, I turned to my wife and said, “Lock it up,” which is yet another poker phrase I’ve worked into my real life. The dude wasn’t even his truck before I found myself thinking, “About a year?”

Jesus. It’s been 13 and a half months since I removed myself from the all-too-real world and dove headlong into a world so…specific…that I have a hard time thinking in general terms anymore. I see everything through a lens of expected value, drawing odds, and hourly rates. The world stage for me is usually nine-people wide and filled with discourse so inane that it might actually fit in today’s cable news programming.

I don’t know many real people anymore. Oddly, the people I know generally fall into two categories. There are the Poker People and the Other People. The poker people, to be sure, are part of a cast so motley that I could spend years writing about them. To wit: I played in a game Monday night in a loft-ish leather-appointed private game room. Big screen TVs, leather couches, wet bar, pool table, expensive chips, custom table. I was playing against three developers, an unknown, an erratic dentist, and a guy they called CW. The guy walked into the room with a flourish, the sure life of any party he ever attended. Probably 45, graying, a bit of a paunch, and the polo shirt and khaki pants favored by after-hours businessmen.

A hour or so into the game, CW’s cell phone started to buzz on the table.

“I got it!” he shouted, as if anyone else was going to answer his phone. But when he tried to answer the phone, it continued to buzz. And buzz. And buzz. Something was broken. Ten minutes later, after one of the developers started smelling the phone, CW admitted he’d dropped the phone into his Jack-and-Coke, which explained why his Verizon smelled like bourbon. It did little to explain why the guy pissed on the wall in the bathroom twenty minutes later.

Regardless, I said nothing. I took a few hundred bucks off CW alone. He is the guy I’ve come to WANT to see on any given night. In the past, I would’ve wanted to hang out with him because I was a big drinker. Now, I want to hang out with him because he stands a good chance of making the roll in my back pocket thicker.

Still, the Other People are in my life. I, of course, have my family. All of them are usually patient with the extent to which I have emmersed myself in this new world. They hope, as I do, that this new life will lead to some grander understanding of my writing ability. They hope, if only for my sense of self-worth, I can manage some modicom of success in a game that a lot of people play, but few love and understand.

There are also Other People who are also Poker People. Several of my long-time friends have become Poker People over the past few years. What’s more, I’ve made some real friendships with people I met in the poker world. For a guy who thought he was done making friends, I’ve managed to meet a number of kindred spirits in the poker world with whom I’d be just as happy going on a road trip with as playing cards.

Still, despite my frightening level of contentment, I fear I may have let a few of the Other People slip away over the past few years or so. With a focus and work schedule so firmly rooted in poker pursuits and a family that I try to keep happy, I rarely have time for other stuff any more.

Longtime readers here will remember my tales of old. Drinking binges, road trips, concerts, festivals, and back-porch jam sessions filled the etheral pages of this blog. There was a two-year period during which I spent two or three days a week playing frisbee golf. There was a time when I spent weeks planning for parties on Mt. Willis.

To be fair, while other people might, I can’t wholly blame poker or my job. The people with whom I shared a lot of those experiences have changed, too. I have either moved (geographically) away from some of my closest friends or they have moved away from me. In other cases, people’s personal lives have gotten in the way and either dragged them into their own world or away from mine. Plus, we’re all getting old and drinking binges, spontaneous road trips, and the like just aren’t nearly as kosher as they once were.

I woke up yesterday with what felt like a sprained ankle. The pain has stuck around for the past 36 hours.

“It feels like I slid into second-base too hard,” I told my wife. She nodded, which my ever-softening ego took to mean, “the last time you slid into second base, your age didn’t begin with a three.”

“I could understand it,” I said, “if I had been really drunk recently.” Again, the wife nodded, and continued to bob her head as I admitted, “I haven’t been really drunk in a long time.” Not that my relative sobriety is a bad thing, but it was still a reminder of how much times have changed. Now, I have aches and pains (I neglected to mention the pinched nerve in my neck) that are in no way associated with physical exertion or youthful indiscrestion.

As I limped back to my computer to try and find the Best Athletic Ankle Compression Sleeve, it was agreed: I’m just getting old.

This weekend, a good Other People buddy of mine turns 40. He’s not getting old. In fact, in the seven years I’ve known him, he seems to have gotten younger. When we met, he was about the age I am now and he has not only survived, but thrived.

Saturday, I’m going to get in Emilio (longtime readers will remember this is what I named my vehicle on a spontaneous and drunken roadtrip to a two-day concert) and go see my buddy. I’m going to take my guitar. I’m going to meet two other buddies there. They are going to bring their guitars, as well.

Somewhere, maybe along I-85, I hope there is an intersection where my real life and poker life meet. If I find it, I plan to build a Log Cabin Home and live there for as long as I can.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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1 Response

  1. Anonymous shep says:

    I would go on a road trip with you any time to any place.
    lets go backpacking sometime I think you need it! let me know, I try to go twice a year but my age is catching up and if i dont keep it up it will just be memories,
    you, me, teamscott and any other buddies that need a break from the real world.

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