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I was sitting the lobby of the Grand in Tunica in January of 2006. C.J. and I were plotting our assault on the $1,000 World Series event when he mentioned that a blogger had just taken down an event at the L.A. Poker Classic for a serious amount of money. Turns out, that blogger was Absinthe. Since then, Absinthe and I have spent quite a bit of time at the tables (both poker and dinner) together and I’ve come to admire the guy quite a bit. [Oh, yeah, I busted out of the Series event in completely boring fashion. C.J. and Iggy both went deepr than me, but, the long and the short of it was, we sucked eggs.]

So, since I wasn’t there to rail him last night, here’s a big Up For sanghoki Poker congratulations to Absinthe for making the final table last night in a $1,000 event at the Legends of Poker in L.A. He ended up chopping the thing five ways for a healthy profit, once again proving that the ability to write a coherent entertaining post and cash big at poker tournaments are not mutually exclusive.

The Rising Tide

At just the moment we arrived, parked the car beneath the condo tower, and loaded our luggage onto a cart, our state set an all-time temperature record.

106 degrees in Columbia, 105 back in G-Vegas, hot enough to make my golf shirt stick to my back like 20 pounds of duct tape in Charleston.

The family went on ahead while I loaded all the gear into the elevator. A man, about my age, was there with his son. “I heard there isn’t much beach left,” he small talked, “because of all the erosion.”

“Plus, with all this heat, it’s a pretty bad idea to go outside,” he continued.

“And here were are,” I said when the elevator reached my floor.

THAT AFTERNOON

Evidently, and much to my later surprise, two people were bitten by sharks that day. It happened on the same beach where my family and I were jumping the waves although we didn’t notice a thing. I will admit that after I found out I was the genius who thought it wise to MENTION the attacks to my 6 year old daughter. I did this because I’m not smart.

Even the next morning, with “SHARK ATTACK” the fancy bumper graphic on the morning news and “Two bitten by Sharks” the slightly less sensational headline in the local rag everyone was abuzz. Oddly, they talked about it as they bounded back into the ocean.So while my parents and wife and kids became bait for tabliod news, I took a walk along the beach heading north to the very tip of our island… the Isle of Palms.

THE BEACH

Random elevator doomsayer was right about the beach. At the tip of the island there was almost nothing left. Flatbed trucks drove along the remaining strip to deliver massive sandbags that were then forklifted into barriers. In theory, they’d protect the million dollar homes. As I walked, I could see the tops of the bags they placed last year, or perhaps earlier THIS YEAR, buried by erosion.

I stopped a guy, he was probably in his early 50s, a black guy with white hair and a plain white T-shirt tight enought to be a tourniquet around both arms. He said he’d been working for the same company for the past 18 years. He’d been putting bags of sand here for 16.

“Does it work?” I asked.

“Does it LOOK like it works?” he non-answered.

“So why bother?”

“I got to work,” he said and put the matter to rest.

Just beyond that flatbed truck there was a walkway, down from one of the hotels, that had been almost entirely washed away by the tide. At the end there was a good 3 or 4 foot jump to the sandbags below. No beach… just bags.

I saw a family, staying in that hotel, climb down that walkway and plop their chairs between the bags.

Welcome to the beach.

THE NEW YORKER

As I turned back toward my family I saw this guy with madras shorts and a Yankees t-shirt chomping on a cigar. He had a cheap frisbee (as a former frolfer I’ve become a bit of a frisbee snob) in his hand. Now, this day on the beach was blessed not only with scorching heat, but a steady, howling 25 mile-per-hour wind. Nobody, I mean NOBODY could possibly throw a frisbee in this weather. This man was no exception.

Nevertheless, this tobacco chomper sent his daughter down the bech to catch his toss. I saw him make 5 attempts. Each one went immediatly backwards, darting past him the second it left his hand. When I walked away, he was chasing the disc into the sea.

YOU’RE WONDERING… what this has to do with poker? I’m getting to that.

THE MOM

Not far from frisbee man, there was a row of about 5 chairs. In the first there was a mom with a copy of the day’s paper. She was reading the story of the shark bites aloud to her family. I stopped to listen for a bit because, at the time, I hadn’t read the report. Turns out, I was the ONLY person listening. One glance at the kids next to her would make it clear they had no interest. Two of them had their iPods on. The rest made no secret about their disdain for their mother’s tale. Then, as I walked past it was obvious why. The wind was so loud that they almost certainly COULDN’T hear what she was yakking about downwind. Her words were lost the second she spoke them.

Not that she cared. I saw her lips flapping in the wind long after I lost the ability to hear.

SO?

So what do these people have in common?

Each is confronted with the awesome power of nature and was left totally unimpressed. Perhaps, uninterested. There were beachgoers who DECIDED to enjoy the beach whether it was objectively ENJOYABLE or not.

The weather is too windy for frisbee? Perhaps if I throw harder.

My kids don’t care? Perhaps if I keep reading.

The sand doesn’t work? But I’m not paid to ask questions.

I wonder how often my own thinking has been crippled by these blinders. I wonder how often I’ve made bad decisions, at poker and more, because of the mindset I brought to the table.

I wonder if I’m screaming into the wind.

I’m wondering these questions now because I totally ignored them then.

I took off my WSOP souvenier T-Shirt and went swimming with the sharks.

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