December 6, 2023

 

I work in an industry that often receives promotional materials from companies across America. You’d be surprised what we get in our mailbox. Multi-colored duct tape, advance bottles of Vanilla Coke, and the ever-present and, frankly, spooky books from author, Nicholas Sparks. The latter wouldn’t be nearly as spooky if it weren’t for the fact that Sparks usually shows up in person with the books.

Eeeeesh.

It’s the showing up in person thing that tends to be a little slot hoki disconcerting. I’ve successfully avoided being in the same room with Sparks when he comes in. Still, I feel my masculinity draining out of me whenever he’s in a 100-yard radius.

Perhaps the spookiest appearance, however, was when Chubby Checker showed up. He was playing the Frankie Avalon character in a traveling production of “Grease.” Chubby was a trip. He wandered the office, grabbing employees like G-Rob and saying, ‘Get your picture with me.”

When he discovered a young red-headed co-worker who carries with her a couple of ample assets, Chubby spent an inordinate amount of time talking about himself and alluding to things you’d rather not think about involving Chubby. After he invited her to the after-show party, he signed her an autograph addressed to “My Red Velvet Lady.”

Spooky, I say.

But today as I walked by the keeper of all things promotional, she called out “Otis!” I turned toward her and saw a WPT poker chip flipping toward me in the air.

Now that’s a good piece of promotional material.

So, I’ve spent my day trying in vain to perfect the chip knuckle-roll.

This is what I do for a living.

***

In a few hours I’m going to hop in Emilio the SDV and head to a nearby suburbian office complex where 50 people are buying in for $75+$5 a piece in an unquestionably illegal poker tournament. I haven’t played with these folks before and have no idea how good or bad they are. BadBlood has plyed in one of their games before, but got no cards that night.

I briefed Mrs. Otis on the tournament a week or so ago, so it came as no surprise to her this morning when I told her I’d just be stopping by home briefly before heading out to play tonight.

“Is G-Rob going with you?” she asked, still sleepy from a long night up with L’il Otis.

“No, he can’t make it tonight.”

G-Rob is running a 10K tomorrow and didn’t feel like dropping $75 on an unknown game.

“So, you’re going alone,” she said. I knew what she was implying. I’m an average-sized guy with few muscles and a proven inability to defend myself in a fight. I’d explained to her previously that this game wasn’t rough-and-tumble road gamblers, but a group of professionals from around the region who liked to play. Apparently she had forgotten that part.

To pacify her I said, “No, I won’t be alone. BadBlood will be there.”

This should’ve been enough for this very reason: A female friend of mine met BadBlood one night. A few weeks later I told her BadBlood was going to be at my homegame, and she responded, “BadBlood with the guns?”

To which I could only meekly look at my pathetic pythons and say, “Yes, BadBlood with the guns.”

Where I am no sloth, I’m sadly unfit. The only exercise I get is curling my kid when he’s in his car seat (and I’m getting some definition, bucko). So, after offering that BadBlood would have my back against a vicious group of accountants and doctors, I thought she would smile.

Instead, she shrugged as if to say, “Well, I wish G-Rob were going.”

This is what’s sort of funny about the situation. G-Rob is an exceptionally big guy (as he would say in a very public forum one day, “freakishly large in every way”).

But, a few years ago if I had said I was going somewhere with G-Rob, my wife would’ve had a look of disdain and panic on her face. See, G-Rob and I tended to get in trouble together. While it was rarely more his fault than mine, Mrs. Otis’ perception was that G-Rob was often responsible for leading me astray. Sure, it happened (I’m still pissed about a drink getting replaced with straight vodka and a literal body slam), but I was usually responsible for my own indiscretions.

For instance, late one night in an Atlanta, GA club, bohemoth G-Rob was making his way through a crowd of people when he accidentally bumped a 5’4″ punk in a black leather jacket. The punk mouthed off to G-Rob who sized him up and summarily dismissed him. I was having none of it, though. I bellied up to punk and asked him what his problem was with G-Rob. Again, I’m a lover, not a fighter and I still don’t know what led me to go all redneck on the guy. My fault. Had it not been for G-Rob, I probably would’ve ended up in the hospital.

However, in the past year, my wife has become G-Rob’s biggest fan. I’m sure that’s partly because our wild-night lifestyle has calmed down a little bit as he and I have tried to work our way into games all over town.

Still, it’s funny that my wife thinks I need a bodyguard and she’s chosen the one guy she wouldn’t have picked a year ago.

But, she loves me and she has taken to encouraging my poker playing. For that, I can’t complain at all.

Maybe if BadBlood comes over tonight before the tournament and does a few reps of bench presses, Mrs. Otis will feel better about me heading out into the unknown.