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From breakfast to lunch, a study in blind faith, blind stealing, and blindly stepping into an alternate universe

guinness.jpg”What are you looking at, lady?”

That’s what I wanted to say. But, of course, I didn’t. Because slot hoki even as snarky and tired as I was feeling, it just didn’t seem right to dress down the woman right in front of her video game-obsessed kid.

It was 7am. I’d made exceptionally good time on the interstate run from South Carolina to Charlotte, NC. I’d packed just one carry-on bag to carry with my briefcase. Check-in proved to be almost too easy, which left me with time to kill.

I toyed with the idea of finding a coffee stand or a crystal meth dealer. I hadn’t slept but a couple hours before I left for the airport. I felt my internal systems fighting against themselves in what I was sure was a prelude to a greater war that would be fought on the Las Vegas battlefield.

Instead, I wandered into the airport bar and found a spot near the back. The bartendress approached.

“What do you have on draft?” I asked.

“Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Sam Adams, Bass…”

The word “Bass” was forming on my lips when the nice bartendress finished.

“…and Guinness.”

I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was that I’ve always considered Guinness to be the best of the breakfast beers. Maybe it was that I was wondering whether Iggy was going to make the trip. I dunno. All I know is that before I knew it, I was nearly shouting, “Guinness. Yes, a Guinness would be great.”

And so I sat with the tan foam on my upper lip, recording a few notes in a pocket notebook, and wondering where the trip was going to take me.

That’s when Mama Sneer walked to the bar. She’d walked in with her punk kid and taken a table near the back. As she approached the bar, she looked at my beer with disdain, as if to say, “Drinking beer at 7am. The devil’s brews, you heathen.”

I raised my glass, tilted it toward her slightly, and took a long drink.

Then, I overheard her order her coffee from the bartendress. As I watched the bartender pour the drink, I knew that I had mis-read the woman’s look. It hadn’t been disdain. It was enlightenment. The bartendress spiked the coffee with some Irish Creme and handed it to the heathen woman.

Yes, ma’am, here there be degenerates. Welcome to the Breakfast Club.

***

The flight was uneventful. It popped with the expected titter of the people who had not yet lost a month’s pay at the roulette table. The guy next to me read the paper to his wife, much in the same fashion as the drummer’s dad in the unfortunate movie, “That Thing You Do.” I watched “Rounders” on my laptop and only got up to pee once. That’s an accomplishement, if you ask me.

BadBlood had met me at the gate and sat several rows behind me on the plane, lamenting the girth of his rowmates. When we disembarked, we shared tales of the flight, called our wives, and found ourselves in a cab, checked into our room, and on our way to a poker table within an hour of wheels down.

I’d played in the Noon Luxor freeze-out before and knew well in advance that it sucked sideways. After the $3 add-on, players start with a painfully small 300T stack and face blinds that escalate faster than a meth geek on payday. Still, it was a good opportunity to ease into the weekend slowly. So, we went, registered, and headed over to the Nile Deli for a quick bite to eat. Egg salad on rye for me, roast beef for the Blood.

At around 11:45 am, we walked back to the poker room and found that we’d been seated together in the 8 and 9 seats. As we stood waiting, I spotted the blonde hair I’d been waiting to see. With little hesitation, I looked up and asked, “Felicia?” being sure to pronounce it as I had practiced. Fell-eee-see-ah.

I’ll admit, I was nervous to meet Felicia. Her blog is one of the best and, frankly, she makes it a point to write that she’s not a nice person. After meeting her, I found that she was disarming in her demeanor. If one understands her wit, she’s actually quite easy to like. I found this quicky, as I had misunderstood her when she had pointed out Mas sitting at a $2/$4 table. She’d earlier indicated he was Asian. So, when I asked again which one was Mas, she looked at me and deadpanned, “Um, there’s only one Asian guy at the table.”

Her husband, Glenn was with her, and proved to be more than likable himself. He reminded me a great deal of one of my best friends. Warm, funny, affable.

Mas came over to join us for some pre-tourney conversation. We didn’t get to spend a great deal of time together and I regret that. He laughed at my stupid jokes, which always endears me to people.

And so, I began one of my many missions of the weekend: to determine if Iggy, was, fact, a little person. I knew that Felicia had met him in the past and that she knew the answer. I opened the door for her to give me the answer I had so long sought. It wasn’t as if I cared whether Iggy was a dwarf or not. It was that there was so much mystery surrounding the issue. I’m an investigative journalist. I can’t stand not to know stuff.

But Felicia stonewalled. She would only admit that when she first saw a picture of Iggy, she thought he was a woman.

Like that helps me, I thought.

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