Being unemployed I don’t get out much anymore. I spend my time usually reading article after article about how our society sucks, how our government sucks, our food sucks… you get the idea. Anyway I think all that reading, and even sometimes delving into those issues for this blog kind of keep me in a perpetual state of either pissed off or depressed. I needed some happy time – some of that by myself in the park, and then a poker trip.
Since I have been trying to get out of the house a bit more, and my desire to interact with people in real life I decided to go to Atlantic City and play some poker. Casinos make me happy and it isn’t because of the gambling it is because you can talk to people you might not otherwise have interacted with in a any other setting. Now before people get all bent about me gambling while unemployed – this trip was pretty much free for me with exception of the gas to get there because back when I had money I had racked up quite a bit of “comp” money that I used to play with, and eat with.
I’ve written before about how much I love casinos and airports and why I like them, and this trip was no exception. When I sat down at the poker table I had no idea just how awesome and fun my evening was going to be. Sometimes you sit at a table and people seem grumpy and serious, and sometimes you get a group of awesome people who are just out to have some fun. I lucked out and got a good table with a rotating group of truly awesome people who all needed a little interaction, laughter, and conversation. Poker was secondary.
Whenever I go play poker I always wear one of my military themed shirts – I do this because it never fails to start conversation. “Oh were you in the Army?” and then boom – we are off and running learning about each other and sharing experiences. Other vets will see me and we will talk about our service, where we have been, what we have done. I was lucky enough to meet a man who is one of the last of those who served in both WWII and Korea, his wife also has a long lineage of heroes in her family going back to the Revolutionary war. It was fascinating talking to them. Some stories you just can’t tell in a blog or a news article – sometimes the story is in the eyes of the people who share these experiences and can’t be understood or truly appreciated outside of a face-to-face conversation. Not only was this couple part of a proud military heritage – they were funny, the were in love, they were kind and jovial. They have a dream to start a battered women shelter in their retirement that doubles as a working hotel to allow women to recover from abuse while not having to worry about child care or finding work while at the same time teaching them skills to go get a paying job. It is a great idea and I hope the realize their dream. Such good people. They made my heart happy once again and reminded me that there are always good people even if we can’t see them through all the nonsense.
As the night went on, different people came and went. The drinks were flowing. The conversations going from lighthearted to serious. There were men and women, from all walks of life, all demographics, and different worldviews. We talked about racism, government, occupations, history, aliens, and gardening. We told jokes, made fun of each other, and laughed together. A rotating table of experiences and backgrounds – all with the same goal for that one night; play some poker, have some fun.
As a smoker, I get the added bonus of chatting with other smokers during breaks – the only thing I will miss about smoking when I do eventually quit is the social aspect of it. Go outside for a smoke and other people are out there too. Nothing else to do but talk to each other. Different people each time for the most part. All willing to chat. I met a man who’s 17 year old daughter just came out to him, and he didn’t quite know what to say to her. They are from a conservative black community that frowns on being gay and he was just looking for someone to help his daughter feel okay about herself. I just told him that he can do more for her than I ever could – and after some lengthy conversation with both him, his wife, and his daughter; well I think they realized the simple fact that being gay really is no different from being straight. I talked about Stephanie and our relationship and when people see that our relationships are the same as theirs; well the homophobia just melts away on it’s own. They just needed to meet and talk to a gay person who was happy and okay with who they were. They were wonderful people with their hearts in the right place who just needed to hear a little validation. Again – they could read about these things online – but in real life they got to see me smile as I shared my life with Steph and they could see that love is love. Read it and you may not get it, but how can you deny it when it is right in front of you? Hopefully their daughter will find herself and be a little less hard on herself, and her parents now really understand that they are an important part of her happiness. Win.
I also met one of the cast members from the “I Love Lucy Live” show (www.ilovelucylive.com) that is playing in A.C and he is a super awesome guy and we spent a good part of the evening hanging out and talking about theater and performing. I don’t want to get him in any trouble so I won’t mention his name, but he gave me a little “behind the scenes” tour of the set and showed me how the set works, the costumes from the show, and stories about how he got the part along with some tidbits about the set and the show. We also talked a lot about the I love Lucy era, and how fewer and fewer people even remember how ground breaking that show was; and Lucile Ball with her craziness and brilliance. Hopefully I will be able to get tickets to see it, because everyone who came out after the show was over was raving about how great it was, and after getting the peek at the set, I can only imagine how great of a show it is. They will be bringing the show here to Philly, and my new friend said he would try and get Steph and I tickets to see it. Even if he can’t get them for us gratis, I still plan on seeing the show when they come here, and maybe take my friend out for a night in Philly while he’s here performing. Great guy.
There are a few more stories I could share with you but I think I made my point. If we just take a moment to take to each other once in a while; you will be amazed at the people you can meet, the conversations you can have, and be able to connect with humanity in our ever technological isolation. You never know, the conversation you have could change someones life. I know that each person I met and interacted with changed mine. I needed that connection quite desperately and the universe as it always does provided what I needed when I needed it. All I had to do was listen and pay attention to it.
If you are reading this right now because you are one of the people I met and came to check out what I do here thanks!! I decided that I need business cards…