Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jake--Just a friendly game

I decided I needed a break from the festival. The beer has been great, the food as well-- but I needed a change of pace. So I asked around to see if any of the others staying at the Inn would be interested in a game of poker, and I got a few takers.

I travel a lot in my line of work. Sometimes I am gone for weeks at a shot. Television production companies hire me to work on their productions and sometimes they want me on site during “shooting”. Living on the road and out of hotel rooms can be rough, boring and lonely—but then I discovered poker. People everywhere play poker, and they are usually open to a complete stranger joining in a game. It’s a great way to spend an evening, meet new people, and more often than not, make a few bucks.

The Inn has a big open common area, so since I could not locate the Inn keeper, I just claimed it for the night. It was a perfect place for a game. I set up a table, chairs and put a bunch of beer on ice in a cooler.

The room was filled with photographs. Some of them looked really old. The weird thing was that most of the photos were eerily similar: different groups of people all standing in a line, staring straight ahead, with sad expressions on their faces. The photos creeped me out. If these were photos of previous guests, then the Inn has had a lot of unhappy residents over the years.

Art offered to buy pizza for tonight—actually he said he would just expense it out--but I declined, tonight was on me.

I should have taken him up on it. Getting pizza was a bitch.

No one would deliver to the Inn. When the first two places turned me down, I started the conversation with the third by asking where they did deliver. The overly cheerful girl on the other end of the phone told me, and the Inn easily fit within their area. So I ordered and then gave the girl the address. Then there was an awkward moment of silence, followed by “I’m sorry sir, we don’t deliver to the Old Orchard Inn”. I asked why not, and she only gave me “company policy”. I was annoyed by this time, but still trying to get pizza. So I promised a big fat tip if they would bend the rules, and to my surprise, she hung up on me.

I tried three other places before I gave up and just drove and picked up a pizza. I asked the kid at “Mike’s Pizza Eatery” if they delivered to the “Old Orchard Inn” and he gets a weird look on his face and says “No one goes up there, man”. He also wouldn’t tell me why.

Pizza strangeness aside, the game was a huge success. I was a little concerned when Art said he wanted to play—the guy wrote the book on poker...literally. He wrote one of those “how to play poker for dummies” types of books. Fortunately for me he had a huge “tell” whenever he was bluffing. Bad hands really showed up in his face, he even bit his lower lip once or twice.

Mark Lange was a decent player. He’s about my age and had some great stories about college football. He had a cool easy-going demeanor and seemed to be more interested in hanging out than actually playing. We didn’t bet him up to bad money-wise.

Mostly, people walked away with what they brought. No big losers last night.

Everyone did comment on how good the pizza tasted, so I guess everything worked out in the end.

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