It bothered me all week.  All week. Only today did it fall into place.  NOW I get it. That feeling—I’ve had it before. That specific sting. That violation.

Last time it was the early 60’s—one of those rare times we played tackle at Greenview. A Saturday afternoon. There used to be a practice field between Green Road and the school; somehow we were there.

A pileup and we recovered the loose ball.  No, wait! The runner, (who was and is a lifelong friend), looked us dead in the eye declaring he’d been down before he lost it. Dead in the f’ing eye.

“No you didn’t!”
“I wouldn’t lie about it,” he responded.
They kept the ball.

A moment in time forgotten until just now. But as I drove downtown this morning I once again saw his white sweatshirt and yes, again heard his lie.

It wasn’t just a game.

Fast forward: It’s Sunday night, there are no shoulder pads, and the “game” is poker. We prioritize it; we schedule around it. Vacations end on Saturdays, weekend jaunts by noon Sunday, and at 7PM sharp everyone is where they are supposed to be. Every week. Count on it. For nearly five hours there are no cell phones permitted. We laugh; we insult; we share fellowship. No shop talk allowed—just deal the cards and let’s go. It is a respite from the real world…until…..

Half the ten regulars are Jewish; there’s a married couple, an unmarried couple, an ex-nun, a black, a metrosexual, a few clean-cut degenerates and an assorted collection of recovery friends…oh, and one guy I don’t like, but I can’t remember why.

Well something happened last week that had stuck in my craw. Not major, but ugly.

Sparing detail, I was coerced into splitting a pot that was mine. Not the end of the world, but the culprit knew better, and others sat silent. And no, it’s not about the money; I wish it were that simple. It’s about honor.

“Forego resentments,” they counsel. Generally I succeed. Why “let someone take up space in your head rent-free?” Sometimes though, this is easier said than done.

It went down about 10:30 and I didn’t make an issue.

My heart told me to speak up but my mind said let it go; I chose the latter. How important is it, really? Folded the last hour away, played on a soft tilt, left quietly before midnight.

I woke Monday to the same bad taste in my mouth. Instinctively I knew I had to let go, but I still wasn’t ready. This, I decided, would be a two-step process.

First I wanted to assure myself I was right. I knew I was, but I just had to make sure. Perhaps I didn’t know poker etiquette as well as I’d thought.

So I called Maryanne; she knows poker. We needed a “one time talk.” Absent editorial, absent emotion I clinically narrated the story. I just wanted the pure poker answer. The news was both good and bad. The good news was that I was indeed right; the bad news was the same: I was indeed right.

More work. More processing. Why was it bothering me so much? If it wasn’t the money, what was it? Did I have a part in my funk?

I replayed the hand envisioning every person’s reaction to the events.
Why didn’t I speak up? Why didn’t they? Was I intimidated? Were they? Was discretion the better part of valor or do I lack balls? Would this have happened if Chuck were still there?

It occurred to me that the wrongdoer has no idea I’m upset. Is this good or bad? Does it get back to the fact that I’ve never thrown a punch? Am I a wimp or a mensch?

Wanting to let go, but still compelled to share, I called Dennis. I don’t know if he gets poker but he certainly gets me. He could be caring, yet detached. He would tell me what I needed to hear. And he did:

“When your girlfriend cheated on you with the guy in your office it didn’t bother you as much.”
“I know…but THEN I knew what I was dealing with.”

Four days later it sunk in.

It’s about expectations. Mine were violated.

As best as I can I play by the rules; maybe I’m naïve, but I expect others to follow suit. You sit down for 1-2 No Limit week in, week out…well, ain’t no virgins at the table. We all know the rules.

The fumbler at Greenview, the poker player….pillars of the community.
And they’re each good friends, don’t get me wrong. But you can wipe your ass with “cash register honesty.” Better you can look me in the eye.

So, ok, now I’ve worked it through. From frustration, to anger at myself, to anger at them, to resentment…………to understanding.

I’m dropping the rock of resentment, letting it go, and remembering that I too am not perfect. (Far from it).

I feel light again; I feel cleaner. I’ve indeed sorted it out…and, as usual, it’s “all good.”

Sunday night at 7 I’ll be at the table, chips and smile in place, and I’ll know what I ‘m dealing with.

So I’ll cut the deck.

        “Your lips are moving, I cannot hear
        Your voice is soothing, but the words aren’t clear
        You don’t sound different, I’ve learned the game.”


4 Responses to “I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU”

  1. JS says:

    A) he knew he scammed you;

    B) you are a wimp for not saying anything

    C) the fact that your thinking about it 5 days later shows how lame it is you said nothin; and
    D) aunt helen wouldn’t have been happy you were out so late on a worknight.

  2. Marc says:

    You feel violated because you have come to expect total honesty at your game when it concerns your game. Now you don’t know who you can trust and who will speak out when something wrong happens at the table. There always feels like a trust and comraderie among players you play with on a weekly basis and many you count among your good friends. Friends don’t screw friends. Integrity is sacred at that type of game. I don’t know if I could let it go very easily. I feel your pain. I am posting this message at 5:30PM on 8-21 and have already read JS’s message which is dated at 8:52-why is that?

  3. Susan says:

    At times like these, I like to think about what my father would say. He would tell me that I learned a lesson that night and that the money lost was worth that lesson. You now know something about all those folks at that table that you did not know before. My father would occasionally test people on purpose and smile after these kinds of lessons. He did not smile out of superiority but because he learned who and what he was dealing with and now, he could choose if he wanted to continue to deal with them into the future. Some people he did and some people he did not.

  4. JS says:

    JS has mad skills and can post whenever she wants.

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