Yesterday was filled with all sorts of can’t-miss-appointments and other applesauce, though the day culminated nicely with an enjoyable evening with the lovely Vera Valmore. After the long day I had driven two-and-a-half hours to join her at a banquet, part of an academics-related conference she had been attending. Made it just in time, too, missing the salad but arriving just ahead of the shrimp entrée she had ordered for me. (I lied. I didn’t miss the salad one bit.)
After a bit of small talk about traffic and the weather with others around the table, I found myself in conversation with a fellow sitting on my right whom Vera had introduced to me as a “professor of storytelling.” He was actually part of an information and library science program, but did, in fact, teach a class or two about storytelling. An interesting fellow.
After we had talked for awhile, the professor and I discovered one mutual acquaintance, a person I had known long ago who was now a colleague of his. “Yes, I know him,” he said excitedly. “We play poker every other Wednesday.”
Vera and I exchanged looks. I might have raised an eyebrow.
I resisted revealing my poker side to him. It wasn’t exactly the right context in which to introduce my own interest in (obsession with?) the game -- never mind try to explain who “Shamus” is.
I asked him about the games they played. A lot of old timers in the game, so lots of stud games. All nickel-dime-quarter. “If I lose five or ten bucks for the night, that’s a big loss,” he explained. I told him it sounded like a lot of fun.
He said he’d been playing in the game for three or four years, and said something about how he especially liked getting to hear all of his colleagues (most of whom were much older than he) tell stories about the school and other faculty. In other words, while he enjoyed the competition, he was much more enamored with the way poker provided a setting for socializing, and in particular the exchange of stories.
Of course, I didn’t need a professor to tell me that.
Speaking of poker and stories, let me remind you again about the Hard-Boiled Poker Radio Show, where the focus is on stories about poker and/or gambling. And in the most recent episode (Episode No. 2 -- The Killer Cards), Tim Peters offers a thoughtful discussion of the relationship between poker and storytelling. No promises, but I’m thinking I’ll probably go ahead and crank out Episode No. 3 sometime next week.
Meanwhile, have a good weekend at the tables, all. Bring back some stories.