I just returned from a two day trip to Reno. The main purpose of the trip was to conduct a draft for the fantasy football league I participate in....
See, this is the part where you feign interest in my fantasy football draft.
Uh, for example, you could ask if I like my team, or if we got any big-name players.
Well, let's cover other aspects of the trip then. The other attendees on this trip were a bunch of great guys that I used to work with at Hewlett Packard, back before I became a work-at-home hermit. Some of these guys I've barely seen in the last 10 years. In that time, I've gotten married, had a kid, bought a house, run marathons, and done various other life-enriching/ruining activities.
So, after a weekend of getting back in touch with these fellows, what astute observation did one of them make to me?
"Mike, Stan and I were talking about you. We both agree that you haven't changed one bit. Not physically or mentally. You're exactly the same!"
This coming from a guy whose idea of a good time used to be getting his dogs stoned and now he's an award-winning vintner. I have no idea if I should be offended or appreciative. For the time being, I'm going with "hmmmph".
Gambling was fun, as always. Although I got my butt whipped at blackjack and poker, I had a great time taking in the casino ambience. One cocktail waitress charmed our table of geeks by making a "Lost in Space" reference (just a standard "Danger, Will Robinson", but still). We applauded her geek chic and suggested that we'd be even more impressed if she tossed out a few Star Trek quotes. She paused for a moment and then overconfidently threw out a "Nanu nanu".
Naturally we were horrified. She was one Shazbot away from losing her tips.
At one table we were introduced to a fellow player who claimed to be the owner of a brothel. You know, I took a couple of career aptitude tests in school and never once did "brothel owner" appear as a career choice. I should have known not to trust the tests since, in all seriousness, the results indicated that I should consider being a bus driver or a member of the clergy. I think it's safe to say that I'd be a better brothel owner than clergy member.
In general in Reno, it's pretty easy to spot the locals, even those who aren't pimps. Almost all of them have a haggard and bedraggled appearance. If you took a cowboy, housed him in a trailer park to break his spirit, and then made him smoke 2 packs a day for 20 years, you'd have a good idea what the locals look like. And the men ain't too polished neither.
My favorite part of the weekend may have been playing poker with the boys. The casino didn't have a poker room, but one of the guys had brought his own case of poker chips. All we needed was a big room with a round table. It just so happened that we knew of just such a place. We had conducted our fantasy football draft in a casino conference room hours earlier, but our reservation had ended and the rooms were in a locked hallway. My coworker, Al, went to go check out the situation while the rest of us played blackjack. He came back a few minutes later.
Al: Ok, we're all set.
Me: The conference room was unlocked?
Al: Sort of.
Me: What do you mean "sort of"?
Al: It's unlocked now.
Me: You unlocked it?
Me: Al, what did you do?
Al: I've had some experience with doors like that. I learned in college that if you simply apply enough torque to the handle, there's usually some plastic in the lock that will snap.
Me: You're my hero.
So, we skulked back into the conference room and held our own poker tournament for the next 4 or 5 hours. Everytime I walked in and out of that room, to get drinks or to go to the bathroom, I smiled at the broken door. Mind you I'm not endorsing vandalism, but I'm pretty sure the casino can replace the lock with the money that I donated to their blackjack tables. We'll call it even.
I didn't do too well at poker either. In fact, the only gambling where I won any money was on my baseball bets. I placed 12 bets during my 2 days there and ended up with 30 cents of pure unadulterated profit. If I could keep up that pace for an entire baseball season, I'd take down a cool $27. Easy money, baby. Day jobs are for chumps.
And on a final note, I am going to say one thing about my fantasy football team. Since I am basically ignorant about the NFL, I usually help our team make at least one totally bonehead move where we draft someone who has recently been jailed, or died, or maybe developed a limb-threatening case of gangrene. This year, mostly due to luck, our team is surprisingly able, and fully-limbed. Look out, world!