I’ll Raise Ya
Radiation Level: Hitting the Kill Button
Listening To: Ricky Gervais Podcasts with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington
Just finished the annual Thanksgiving trip to Solvang to see my mother. It went quickly, even the drive seemed quicker than usual. When I checked in at the hotel, I saw her. She looked sleepy. She had mentioned on the phone she had been getting headaches as of late – really bad headaches. Today was no different. Dinner was scheduled for 4:30pm at Root 246 (owned by the Chumash Indians) and then we were to gamble at the casino (also owned by the Chumash Indians). But the headache was complicating things. I’m flexible – you have to be in my family – so I was up for whatever she was up for. Somehow though, I knew that the smoke-filled air and ring-a-ding-ding-ding of the casino would alleviate her headache. Seriously. She loves to play the slots.
I’m not much different in that I like to gamble as well. Craps is my game, but they don’t allow dice games on reservations, so I’m content with Black Jack. After eating a pile of food the size of my head (I can hear Richard Simmons’ voice, taunting me about my carb addiction) we went to the casino and I settled in at a Black Jack table. I was up at first, then – as always – my pile of chips started to dwindle. I decided to walk the casino and see what my mother was up to. She was steadily losing her hundred dollars into a machine that quibbled odd sounds. What that a gunshot? Or a tiger roar? Too bad Steve Jobs couldn’t have added some creative thinking to slot machine software. iSlot, anyone? (Damn, if there isn’t an app for that) As predicted, Mother’s headache was a mere twinkle in her hippocampus and she was raring to go. “LET’S PLAY POKER!” she exclaimed.
By poker, she meant real, card-holding Texas Hold’em. I know how to play, but I tend not to enjoy it because only about one in 20 or so hands is a good one and I feel compelled to play the bad ones. It takes a lot of discipline to fold those other 19 hands. But hell, I have semi-good self restraint and I decided to try my luck.
I won a couple hands and felt encouraged by this. But then I found myself in a unique, if not uncomfortable, position. After losing quite a few chips to my MOTHER, I bought more but promptly lost those. Some how, my mother was up. Way up. A man at the table looked at her and said, “She’s got the kill button?” Yes, sir. She in fact had the kill button.
Another round and the only two players left in the game were Mother and me. I was not discouraged, however. I finally had a fairly good hand (two pairs) and – to stay in the game against the kill-button-queen, I had to go “all in”. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Then the river card arrived, at which my mother shouted, “I’ll raise ya!” And threw down six chips.
I couldn’t help but bemoan a loud, “MOM! I have no more chips!” The entire table looked at us, making the connection. I dropped my head into my hands. That’s right, folks. Despite me going all in, my mother raised me. Which is a fantastic metaphor for how she “raised me” in life. Then we flipped over our hands to reveal my two pairs and…her flush. And that’s the last time I play poker against my mother.