Turn left at the dirt road

by Jennifer on April 22, 2008

For a few hours yesterday, I lived the life of a degenerate gambler. And I liked it.

While the kids were in school, my dad and his wife and I went to play poker at the casino where I like to play. I don’t do this often, but it always feels decadent to play poker during school hours.  It always feels like playing hooky.

On Monday mornings, the poker room is mostly empty, with just a few tables running games. A couple of $3/$6 limit tables, an Omaha table, and a $4/$8 table. The crowd is made up of a lot of regulars, many of whom I have played with over the past few years. I know some of their names, but I know them better by their style of play.

I like the daytime crowd more than the one that forms in the evening. These guys–there are few women–are the ones who make their living at the tables (though I suppose a few of them lose their living, too), and I like feeling like one of them for a few hours. There’s a part of me that feels very comfortable in dive bars, and part of me comes out a bit when I get the chance to play with the regulars, in the middle of the morning on a Monday.

It’s that part of me that tips its hat to the fact that I was raised in the country in Missouri. The part that misses the days when I would hang out with friends at bars like The Black Duck in Westport, Connecticut and The Repair Shop in Springfield, Missouri. The part that likes country music, the county fair, and used to go to the tractor pulls with my family.

That part of me needs things to be gritty and imperfect sometimes, and balanced a bit precariously on the farthest edge of good clean living, even though I really am more comfortable when everyone minds a few manners, uses a napkin, and doesn’t do anything too shocking.

I lost $67 at the tables yesterday. It just wasn’t my day, but I still had a great time. Poker teaches a good lesson: to shake off a loss or a bad beat, because eventually the luck will go your way again.

There’s another thing I know. That no matter where I go, or how much I admire fussy things like nice stationery and $4 coffee and Victoria magazine, inside of me and pointing true north, there’s an old dirt road running through my soul.

And that last part, I think, would make a good country song.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Madge April 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

you left out Lincoln? what they heck is wrong with you? all those wide open Nebraska spaces…..

great post.

Jenn @ Juggling Life April 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

Oh yes it would make a great country song.

You are a woman of many talents!

we_be_toys April 22, 2008 at 10:37 am

“Inside of me and pointing true north, there’s an old dirt road running through my soul.”

I love this image! It would make a great C&W song! I think I must have one of those internal dirt roads too, also pointing due north, though I doubt I could play poker nearly as well!

“Being bad feels pretty good” The Breakfast Club

Lisa Milton April 22, 2008 at 11:07 am

Poker player, huh? I’m impressed.

(My husband loves those tournaments and is headed, right now, to Vegas for a work convention. I imagine he’ll squeeze in a little Texas Hold ’em.)

Gwen April 22, 2008 at 11:14 am

How cool are you that you can play poker? (okay, I’ll answer: very cool). I can manage blackjack, but that’s just not quite gritty enough, is it?

ByJane April 22, 2008 at 11:20 am

I played poker in the card rooms of Jackson, CA all through my master’s degree. I think that’s what saved my sanity: to come back from an evening of highbrow to good ole lowball.

Nap Warden April 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Great country song…you should write it:)

TEOM April 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

I’ve got one of those running through my soul too.

Brenda April 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm

You need to write the song.

I’m glad you got some poker time. (I hope at a different table than the family?)

Tractor pulls. I have a little warm spot in my heart for them, too. But I wonder if it’s for them (and the loud noise which was the best part), or for the fact that my parents were so into it that they wouldn’t move from their spots one inch which allowed me the freedom to roam about with my friends and sometimes cousins (right?), unchaperoned.

flutter April 22, 2008 at 3:45 pm

That would rock a country song, woman!

david mcmahon April 22, 2008 at 4:40 pm

My favourite sentence:

The part that likes country music, the county fair, and (Mr. H laughs at this) used to go to the tractor pulls with my family.

Angela April 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm

I have always wanted to play poker. I never have. Not once. Must do.

Nicole P April 22, 2008 at 5:50 pm

How cool that you play poker!!!

I am sooo boring.

Hatchet April 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm

I think you should write the country song as well and if you make it a rockin’ country song, I’d listen to it!

I’m not normally into country music, you see.

JCK April 22, 2008 at 8:07 pm

It WOULD make a good country song. …an old dirt road running through my soul. LOVE that.

Oh, and Jenn, we must talk again. Although I may not know the Black Duck, I lived in Westport, CT as a child! On Center street. Went to Greens Farms elementary school. (I don’t think it exists anymore.)

cce April 23, 2008 at 5:48 am

Thanks for painting this image today, of you and the seedy bars and the tractor pulls and the gambling, it’s a perfect foil for my life here in New England suburbia. It feels a little like living just to read about an alternative life style. I’m so glad you’ve got that dirt road you’re willing to share with the rest of us.

HRH April 23, 2008 at 8:09 am

I do love the country song idea. I can hear the chorus in my head…

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Monday morning. I would be super jealous if I didn’t have a tournament lined up for Friday night…

AMomTwoBoys April 23, 2008 at 8:56 am

Great post!

I lost $99 at Target yesterday. I would have had A LOT more fun losing it at a poker table, though. I’m pretty sure babies are frowned upon there, though.

Melissa April 23, 2008 at 10:21 am

Actually, your whole post would make a great country song. Tractor pulls, dive bars, poker…you have it all, girl!

Mary Alice April 23, 2008 at 10:41 am

I think you should make up a country song for our amusement.

liv April 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm

oh, you. i don’t know how you gamble. it must either be in you or not! although i concur with amomtwoboys in the losing money at target.

Suzanne April 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm

This is one of your best posts, I don’t know why, it may simply be the complete honest pleasure of reading it. And I know nothing of poker. I think it’s that ‘true north’ thing that got me…..great stuff.


Milena April 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

All souls need an earthly grounding. Glad that yours recognizes that necessity.

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