Tuesday, November 28, 2006

(not) in the cards

The other day, Mom and I took a day trip to Atlantic City (because the family that gambles together stays together). The casino we favor is old school, with over-the-top d├ęcor (chandeliers the size of cars, filigree on every available column, railing, and archway, carpets with dizzying patterns and colors) and more old ladies at slot machines than you can shake a stick at. Going to Atlantic City is like a little escape from reality. I can pass the hours at a poker table, drinking free mimosas and marveling at the pot-bellied, mustachioed men and permed, over-bejeweled women sitting around me. Every other time I go, I am also mistaken by one of the dealers or pit bosses for a former cigarette girl ("you could be her twin!"), which is amusing.

The ingenious design of casinos, from the bright din of slot machines to the absence of windows and clocks, make it easy to get lost in the moment. Add to all of that the possibility of losing/winning lots of money for doing nothing more than pushing a button, putting down a few chips in the right square, or gesturing at a few playing cards, and you have yourself a place of vague squalor and surreal possibility.

I was dealt a full house my first hand out. Still groggy from the ride to New Jersey, my win didn't fully register. I didn't feel that rush of adrenaline that usually accompanies a gambling windfall. Gradually, I became more alert and started to enjoy the game and the people-observing. There was the pretty Asian lady who provided non-stop commentary at every hand and called out, "Gimme lady! Gimme lady!" whenever her hand contained a queen. There was a group of dopey Kevin-Federline-types who shouted monosyllabic comments to each other across the tables, proclaiming their dim-wittedness for anyone within earshot. There were the usual elderly married couples in sweatsuits. Then there was the young guy in a leather jacket who bore a passing resemblance to Peter Krause (Nate) from Six Feet Under, who sat down next to me--

Wait, hang on a second. Huh?

This wasn't possible. I rarely saw guys my age at the casino, and never, ever, ones I found attractive.

The second he sat down, I won a hand.

"See, you won because of me," he said.

I laughed. "Are you saying you are my lucky charm?"

"Clearly. Of course, I expect a half of your winnings for my cut."

"Oh, is that your commission?"

"It is. My name's Mark," he held out his hand.

I smiled and shook it. "Dolly."

Mark took his chips and placed a bet.

The dealer pointed to the spot for the bonus bet.

"I don't play it," he shook his head.

My eyes widened. "I thought I was one of the only people who don't play it. People even get upset with me. But it's a sucker bet."


I liked this guy already.

The next half hour or so was spent chatting and flirting, and being thoroughly distracted from my cards. I learned Mark is in marketing and lives one borough over. In fact, we're on opposite ends of the same subway line, which we take to the same stop to go to work.

"So what else..." Mark would ask, evidently wanting to keep the conversation going.

"Did you get here today?" I asked.

"Yeah, a little while ago. You?"

"I'm here with my mom, just for the day."

"I'm here with my mom, too," he seemed faintly sheepish, which was very cute.

"Mom doesn't really play the tables, though. She's more into slots."

"Same with my mom."

More pleasant chatter and then he said, "Well, I'm going to try my luck at roulette. It was nice talking to you."

"You too."

Just like that, he left.

Okay, so I can't always tell if a guy likes me (case in point, Neighbor Neil). In Marketing Mark's case, however, it was more than evident that he was into me. We were vibing and clearly had things in common (I mean, how many people go gambling with their mothers?). He was bold enough to sit down beside me and chat me up, yet didn't close the deal by getting my number. I don't know what happened. Could be that my avant garde movie tastes were a dealbreaker, or he just lost his nerve, or changed his mind. Either way, disappointing. Pretty much the theme of the season.

Ah well, at least I took some money home playing poker. Lucky in cards and all that.


Anonymous said...

If I met someone cool when I was with my mother, and I knew that she and I used the same subway stop, I'd play it cool, too.

Give him about a week.


Dolly said...

To do what? Do you have any idea how big this city is? We're on totally opposite ends of the platform and take the train in different directions. The odds of us running into each other are infintesimal. If he wanted to play it cool, he could have asked me to lunch, since we work less than half a mile apart. Lunch is totally low key and no pressure.

Anonymous said...

There could be a million reasons.

Naturals come in all types. Some really want to be in exclusive relationships, some are just good conversionalists and don't have a clue how to detect attraction or how to isolate/esacalate/close.

Why didn't you give him your number? You had nothing to lose.

CallaLily said...

"Why didn't you give him your number? You had nothing to lose."

Because she shouldn't have had to. We want to be asked.

Ugh, this has happened to me too, where the sparks are flying and all the signs are there, and I'm doing my best to give him the subliminal go-ahead......and nothing. I think they turn coward at the last second. Oh well. Next!

Anonymous said...

My cynical guess is he was NOT there with his mother!

coasta said...

He definitely lost his nerve. Hell, he might not even have considered making the move....while wanting to nonetheless. Everything in American society today discourages regular guys from making a move, IMO. Maybe cause most were raised by women? Dunno.

Hell, i grew up thinking the girl called all the shots. Never spoke to a girl i didn't know until i was 20.

I comment like this, cause I see a lot of myself in this guy. I used to have this same scenario play over and over.

Anonymous said...

might of been a nice guy but maybe he was married or something. Better to not know and enjoy that moment than to get involved and hate many moments after that.

Not to change the subject but last time I wen to Atlantic City. Like 3 years ago. I was walking on the Boardwalk I think near Ballys and there was a woman that was on a stretcher with no arms and no legs and would play a keyboard with her tongue.

She was pretty good. just wondering if she is still there

Buffy said...

It's a small world.

You'll see him again.

Just wait.

(P.S. Loved the 'the family that gambles together stays together' line!) :)

Dolly said...

I think Callalilly pretty much answered that one for me.

Anonymous and DS,
I don't know, he seemed pretty bashful about being there with Mom and I got single vibes from the guy. But who knows.

I love your optimism! I need to take a page out of your book and get with the positive thinking again.

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, be the man and all that stuff... I won't talk here about my wussing out problems.

Please indulge us young boys, we will get it someday.

Dolly said...

It's okay, Charlie. I've done the asking out before and I know it can be tough. And hey, feel free to talk about wussing out problems. We all have our social retard moments.

dman said...

>>"Why didn't you give him your number? You had nothing to lose."

> Because she shouldn't have had to. We want to be asked.

well d'oh! of course you would like to be asked, a bet every single guy in the world would love to be asked for his number by a hot chick too.

everybody feels the fear, males AND females. sometimes you just have to suck it in and act upon it

Dolly said...

Having done the pursuing and been the pursued, I know the latter is better for me. Call me old fashioned, but if a guy is going to be too lazy and cowardly that he can't ask for my number, he's not somebody I want to be with. I prefer to be with somebody less passive, who is man enough to take control of the situation. But that's just my preference.

zosnut said...

Mind you, I remember doing the same thing with two (Swedish) girls.
I was actually almost proud to say goodbye, without asking for anything. I thought asking for an e-mail would have destroyed the purity of our little discussion.
Or maybe I was just being stupid, after all.

We're not necessarily cowards (well, we are, but that's not the point), but asking for a phone number at the end of a conversation makes us feel like beggars. Some of us, at least. Except if the girl has expressed in some light-hearted way the wish to meet again - in which case asking for her number is an act of chivalry, which we indulge in.

Dolly said...

There are casual ways you can get a number from a girl without actually asking for it. Saying something like, "we should get a cup of coffee sometime..." gets the message across without being needy. If a woman is interested, she will volunteer contact information. And believe it or not, a little nervousness can be endearing!

zosnut said...

I appreciate the feedback.
Yet, my gut feeling is that "we should get a cup of coffee sometime..." sounds even worse ;-)
Or maybe with the right intonation.

And I must say that we too really appreciate when a girl is confident and honest enough to say that she'd be happy to see you again. A good sign, in my book.

When I make the first step, I'm pleased if she makes one small step too. (It's a kind of small dance, which can be very natural and pleasant. Everything becomes simple. Nobody gets pursued.)
Otherwise... well, she's not interested, next one.

Dolly said...

I get what you're saying. There should be reciprocity, always. I suppose I have become more old fashioned recently, but I do think men should lead the dance as far as asking out goes. At the same time, I'm sure women could stand to be more approachable and communicate their interest more effectively. Neither sex is perfect!

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