Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Fear and Clothing in Las Vegas

I told this story during a real poker game the other day and thought someone might find it amusing to write about it here. The story took place on my first trip to Vegas, about 10 years ago. We were staying at Treasure Island and back then, Treasure Island had a poker room, which is now gone. One night I’m playing a little 7 card stud game and into the game comes Jane, and this is her story. In order for you to understand the story, I have to paint a mental picture of Jane.

Jane was about 60 years old, I’d guess, with a gleaming white afro. On this particular day, she was wearing a pair of skintight Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with an electric neon blue short-sleeved v-neck sweater tucked into the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and, of course, a gold lame` pipe belt and gold lame` pumps. She had the entire Liberace starter kit on her fingers, and enough gold chains around her neck to give Mr. T a sore back. And it probably goes without saying that peering out from behind her rhinestone-rimmed glasses was eyeshadow that matched the blue of the sweater. In short, Jane was exactly what you expect to see on your first trip to Vegas. Oh, and one more thing about Jane…..Jane was a bitch.

Nothing was ever right for Jane. The lights were too bright, the chairs uncomfortable. Everyone in the poker room, from the attendant who showed her to her seat to the chip runner who brought her chips to every dealer who sat down for their 30 minute rotation at that table to the cocktail waitresses who brought her drinks that had to be just so, was treated rudely and it was obvious that they were used to being treated rudely by her. They all greeted her with that highly contrived mock-politeness that just barely masks utter contempt, all while exchanging quick glances and eye rolls with each other at every opportunity.

This was a 7 card stud game and there was a 50 cent ante for each player every hand. At the start of each hand, Jane would put out a blue ($1) chip and the dealer, while collecting the antes, would take it and give her a 50 cent piece in return. Then on the next hand, Jane would ante another blue chip and the dealer would again give her a 50 cent piece. She didn’t want to ante the 50 cent pieces, you see, because that was “bad luck”. This would go on hand after hand until Jane had a sizable stack of 50 cent pieces in front of her, which she would then ask the dealers to change into blue chips so the whole process could begin anew. And God forbid anyone should suggest to her that this was annoying behavior.

This game had been going on for several hours, with Jane repeating this behavior over and over again, each dealer politely doing her bidding with an eyeroll and a slight sigh of exasperation. All the while, of course, Jane kept up a steady stream of bitching about everything. She didn’t like how this dealer collected chips, or how that player slow rolled their cards. And of course, that drink just isn’t right. It never is, I imagine. At some point, Jane decided that she needed her 50 cent pieces changed in for blue chips in the middle of a hand that she wasn’t even involved in because she was going to take a break and wanted to leave immediately. The dealer correctly told her that she would have to wait until that hand was over, he wasn’t going to delay the other players to exchange her chips in a hand she had folded out of.

Needless to say, Jane was not happy. And when Jane isn’t happy, no one’s happy. She began to berate this dealer, following up the inevitable “do you know who I am?” by telling him that she was the worst dealer she’d ever seen. He replied, in a thick Iranian accent, “I won’t sleep tonight.” At this point, I’d had about as much as I could stand. I was at the other end of the table from Jane, so as loudly as I could without yelling, I said, “You know, I’m starting to wonder if Eva Braun really died in that bunker with Hitler.” Jane was flustered by this, seemingly in shock that anyone would dare to speak that way to someone of her stature. She began to sputter, “Why…I…I’ve never been treated so rudely in my entire life.” To which I replied, “Stick around, lady, it’s gonna get worse.” Jane got up and stormed away from the table, and as she stopped to tell the floorman that she would never step foot in that place again, the table spontaneously started applauding me. And I’ve loved Vegas ever since.