283. Deal me out, Bro’

Jerry Garcia sang it clearly…


Since it cost a lot to win
and even more to lose
You and me bound to spend some time
wondring what to choose
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
I been gambling here abouts
for ten good solid years
If I told you all that went down
it would burn off both your ears
It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
Since you poured the wine for me
and tightend up my shoes
I hate to leave you sittin there
composin lonesome blues
It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
Don’t you let that deal go down, no
Don’t you let your deal go down
Image result for human poker player pictures
Simple formula, dontcha think? Cards are the metaphor for life. We all play each day, week, month, year, hoping to win. But win what?  We all have different goals. Real estate deals, job interviews, car deals, drug deals, dating deals… what’s your deal, man? Are you in all the way or just posting up on the ante? How many hands will you invest in?
I’m only familiar with poker hands, whether five card stud or draw poker or seven card stud. Folding is an option all along the way, if you must fold to protect your assets.  No shame there. If you can figure out odds, then you know when you have a useless hand. On the other hand this dearth of good cards could call forth your acting, i.e., bluffing skills. Though you have a nine high nothing, you may choose to play it tough, stare down your competitors, hypnotize them with bluffery. What a victory that would be in a hand of poker or a real life deal.
I’m imagining a called bluff scenario that must be fairly common in the online dating world. If your profile picture is from ten years ago and fifty pounds lighter than the present day, you know you’ll  have to show your cards at some point, most likely at hello. I know even less about dating than poker, but I believe they are both very risky activities, sometimes ending in mayhem or murder when things go wrong.
After some time spent flirtatiously suggesting chemistry and connection on line, Sally and Harry decide to meet in person for the first time at a local dimly lit Irish pub.
Image result for awkward first date in a bar pictures
Harry enters the bar, smiling stiffly and blathers unedited, “You must be Sally, right? You look fabulous, just like your profile picture. Harry, (reaching out his hand) Mc Featers, like feet, or defeat, you know, like we are walking on de shoes, ha ha.” (Nervous as a nun at a strip club.)
Inwardly both are groaning at the awkward dissimilarity to their online repartee, as if Cyrano De Bergerac had been outed as clumsy, inarticulate and gender conflicted. Meanwhile Sally has positioned herself with her best side showing from the corner of the booth with the television above and behind her left shoulder, knowing all men will tend to zone into the screen and not pay such close attention to her dyed hair and half a second chin. Of course, she is wearing an all black outfit over her spanx for the sake of illusion. Bluffing goes both ways.
Reaching up to shake, “Sally, uh,  Myerson.  Harry, glad to meet you.”
“Yes, really great. Wow. It’s amazing to see you in person. There’s just so much more to a person in person, don’t you think?”
Sally starts to cringe and blush at his ghastly speech. ‘Could he possibly be this stupid?’  “Yes, let’s order a drink, why don’t we?” she hurriedly suggests to get something in his dry, nervous mouth besides pigeon dropping comments.
“You betcha. Waitress a double vodka tonic for me and, Cindy, I mean Sally, what would you like?”
‘I’d like to slip into a coma right now, but I can’t.’ “Uh, do you know how to make Sex on the Beach?”
Harry, “Whoa, no but I can learn, Sandy, I mean, Sally, ha ha!!”
Waitress, “Sure, Honey.” Then with a knowing glance and a half pitiful wink she whispers, “Good luck with him” as she takes the drink menus away.

“So, Harry, how would you like tonight to go, you know, what goals do you have for our evening?” she probes a bit drily.
“Oh Sally I don’t set goals; I score them, if you know what I’m sayin’. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, first I want to know if we should order dinner or not.”
“Whoa, baby girl. Settle your jumpy heart. We have the whole night. We can have dinner, dance a little, cuddle up, and then get naked.”
“Harry, yeah, to tell you the truth I’m about to leave right now. The only naked you’re getting from me tonight is the naked truth. Understand?”
“Um, Um, whoa. Here are our drinks. Just a sec.” Waitress smirks and leaves the online hopefuls to their self-inflicted condemnation.
“Yeah, I think we got some wires crossed. I thought you were, you know, pushing the envelope with your drink choice. I’m sorry if I got too frisky too fast for you.”
Sally chugs the entire drink and belches. “Whew. Excuse me. This damn diet is killing me. I only eat celery sticks on Saturdays.”
“No, no problem, Sal. You want another one?”
“Yeah, what the hell?”
Waitress, “You’re staying?”
Sally, “For one more drink.”
Waitress, “Don’t you want to let that first one settle, Honey?”
“Who’s settling?  I’m fifty three years old, Honey. All the good ones are long gone.”
Waitress, “I’m sorry, none of my business. Just thinking of that old song, ‘don’t let your deal go down’, ya know?”
Sally, “It’s a little late for discretion, Sugar. My desperation clock struck midnite. I’m in overtime, ya know? Just deal me out, Bro.”

276. The Necktar of Pain

Okay, I spent last night at the ER because I did not listen to my wife. No, she did not assault me or beat me with a ball bat, though I believe if she did, she’d get off with a jury trial… because she is so stinking pretty and my daughters would all testify against me. “He’s impossible to live with. It was justifiable strangulation, your Honor. The man is made for a good domestic beating; just look at him. He needed to go. It was a public service.” No, she’s been after me for months, yes months, to exercise, get a massage or go for physical therapy to treat my suffocatingly tight neck.  And I said, “Uh huh”, which means I am my own worst enemy while doing the male fake listen nod. In Arabic this attitude translates as “mi nek tar”, which is an old Persian expression that roughly means “pain of the camel’s neck”.

Actually the truth is that my neck muscles seized up like a pit bull chomped down on an industrial strength vacuum hose and would not, perhaps could not, release. (Think of the pounds per square inch that would be required to hold a 65 pound hunk of pure canine muscle locked down on a rubberized turkey neck toy.) I used ibuprofen. Nothing. I used patience, like four and a half minutes worth, I swear!! Nothing. Finally at 3 a.m. I used Tramadol, damnitall. Nothing. My neck was like kiln fired clay that had set up, crystallizing into bronze. Agony is the closest word I can think of. I was in Agony, a small town in a  Steven King novel where bad things happen to decent people lost in rural Maine, where Kathy Bates finds me stuck in a snow bank and tortures me with an ice pick in the neck for six months or summer, whichever comes first. I was a desperately hurting white boy with no possible hope.

All I could hear from across the lonely valley were strains of Aretha Franklin singing “Rescue Me.”


I reasoned that since I was not sleeping and three attempts at remediating this pain had failed, I might as well go to the local ER. I got dressed while my wife slept. I had to wake her up and worry her so that she would not worry when she woke up on her own and I was not there to beat with a ball bat. I moved like the Tin Man without WD 40 to my car and onto a deserted Route 30 festooned with teal green traffic lights all the way into town. I could not pivot my head. I had to turn at the torso to check for traffic. I was a danger to humanity.  Like Jim Morrison sang, “Killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad.” Wow, that seems really dumb forty five years after those lyrics charted.

With my squirming toad brain I expected no wait time at the ER. Wrong. “We only  have one doctor on duty, and he has a very long Middle Eastern name which takes about five minutes to pronounce, so we are backed up about two hours at least. When Dr. Smith works nights, we save all that translation time and see twice as many patients. But tonight it’s Dr. Rolexia Al Sirabi Hamadi Sirramboisiamani the third. Sorry about your luck. So, maybe around dawn we’ll get back to you. Until then, here’s the remote for the television. What? You can’t turn your head? Oh yeah, that sucks to be you, sir. Here, I’ll just leave it on QVC. Oh, faux pearls!! Well would you look at that?”

Not much was on television as I cruised through the menu, finally settling on The Return of Zorro with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones and endless car commercials. I’d close my eyes with commercials on mute and try to sleep. The pain and stupidity of my situation would wake me as Zorro was about to blow up a train or CZJ ran wildly through a vineyard in the strangely bright night. I didn’t care. I was a miserable audience of one, alone in a dark Emergency Room corner at 4:00 a.m. waiting for an exhausted Dr. Rolexia who had to keep repeating himself in soapy English syllables. I imagined that he sounded like an automatic dishwasher spraying medical terminology around at accelerated speed onto muted patients who lay nearly comatose beneath him like hand painted china. That’s it. I am a dinner plate with a human form painted on it. My mind was confused. “My twisted muscles must be twisting my squirming toad brain”, I reasoned from under the hospital gown.

“Rescue me, Zorro. Forget CZJ. She’ll leave you by the next movie, but I’ll forever be your buddy if you will cut my head off and end this agony. Just look out for Kathy Bates. That’s a tough woman to kill.”

I may have been dreaming or hallucinating or alternating between alternate states of consciousness.  Finally the day doctor showed up and by 6:30 I was given toridol, my muscle declencher. It worked magic on my neck, prying it out of the jowls of the imaginary rabid pit bull. Oh sweet release!  I could swallow without pain. And like Botox, I could see clear proof of wrinkle reduction around my face. I could move ever so slightly and not have electrical shocks fire off at points of insertion. I had to sit still for a CT scan of my neck to rule out shrapnel, ice picks, tumors, arthritis, and internal serpents. The doctor told me I had the spine of a 59 year old. “I am 59.”

“Yes, but you look much older in the flesh.”

“Hey, I can go home and be insulted for free, Dr. Cornflakes.”

“And I can expedite your check out. Sign here and here.”

“Is there any prescription or advice for me, Doc?”

“Yes. Listen to your wife.”