Friday, January 18, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Balling The Jack in Canada and an NFL Pick

A number of years ago the Daredevils played a Friday night gig in Buffalo.  I can't remember much about that show except that we spent the night with our friend Marty, who is always a too gracious host.  Marty makes a mean breakfast.  We were playing Erie the next night, so we had nothing but time on our hands.  I feel like I am imposing by just hanging around someone's house all day.  I mean, Marty's got a life, right?  I didn't want to just stare at him all day and say "What do you want to talk about now?  What do you think you might want to talk about later?" as the clock tick-tick-ticked on the wall.  Krusty was in the midst of one of his advanced degrees, so he needed to spend the afternoon doing a paper on whatever the hell one does in masters classes.  The rest of us had nothing to do.  I hit upon the idea of going to one of the casinos as a time killing adventure.

Let's be honest.  Buffalo is not exactly a top tourist destination in January.  I'm not sure if it was January, but I remembered that it was cold, so let's assume it was anytime between December-April.  Leo, Gary and I bundled up in the van and I drove us towards the general area of the casinos.  "Which side should we go on?  We should probably look at Niagara Falls right?"  The other two guys are no help whatsoever.  "I dunno.  It doesn't matter to me."  My thinking is since we are in "daytime adventure mode" that we will go to Canada.  Crossing international borders and gambling!  Good living!  "Well, the Falls look better on the Canadian side.  What do you say we go over there?"  The was a general grunt of agreement.

We entered the border crossing traffic lines.  This was before you needed a passport to go to Canada, so we just have to show driver's licenses.  I hand them to the Mountie.  Well, maybe it was a border employee, but it's better to assume that it was a Mountie.  That seems more exotic.  Anyway, the guy clicks our information into a computer.  "Any of you ever have any legal situations in Canada?"  Huh?  I tell the guy "no" and the other guys quip in from the back.  "No".  The Mountie frowns and tells us to pull over to the side and go in the building as he marches in with our IDs.  Now we are sitting in a crowded room filled primarily with Arabs.  About 20 minutes goes past and from behind the counter a tough looking cop yells across the room.  "Gary!  Who is Gary!".  Gary gives a slight hand raise and walks towards the cop.  Before he is even two steps, the cop begins to dress Gary down in front of the entire room.  "Godammit when someone asks you if you have ever had a legal situation in Canada you had better think twice about lying about that!  I don't know who you think you are but blah blah blah!"  Even I was wincing.  It was really bad.  It was like being screamed at by a really pissed off college football coach.  All the Arabs that were trapped here at the border looked at each other shaking their heads.  This man was the angriest Canadian I have ever seen.

It turned out that Gary had some vague traffic situation years earlier in Toronto that had been sort of resolved but maybe not completely resolved to The Nation of Canada's level of comfort.  We never got any more of the story than we heard the Canadian cop yell at him.  Gary was not the most forthcoming with basic information that would benefit the group.  The good thing was that they let us come in the country for the afternoon.  It is still unclear to this day why Gary didn't speak up when I asked "which side of the Falls" and say "Hey, let's not mess around with a border cross.  I have an unpaid traffic ticket."  I guess when he hit that next crossroad he thought maybe he'd get lucky when the border agent asked if any of us had ever had a legal situation?  It doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what happened.  I still have no idea of the real story.  Regardless, now we were in Canada.  Let's go to a casino!

I had this idea of "balling the jack".  The concept is that you take all of your money that isn't absolutely essential and gamble it.  It's feast or famine.  I convinced the guys that we should take our money from the Buffalo gig, back out gas money to Erie, and then we gamble the rest of it on one roulette spin.  If we won, we would go out for the best meal we could buy in Erie.  If we lost, we'd have to eat gas station hoagies.  Let's add some drama to our afternoon.

We walked over to the roulette wheel.  Quick aside, a roulette wheel on a Saturday afternoon in Canada does not have the same looking crowd as in a James Bond film.  There were no beautiful women in sequin gowns saying playfully sexual things to us as we approached the table.  There was a fat guy in a mustache with a Bills knit cap on.  He looked like a walrus wearing those tennis shoes with velcro straps.  At no point did I attempt to order a martini "shaken not stirred".  I did get a comp Labatt Blue though.  It was served in a plastic cup as I recall.

There was one way to go on choosing between red or black for the big bet.  Leo.  If anyone could win a bet like this one it was Leo.  I have a theory that because Leo has such a good heart that the cosmos looks out for him when he does stupid shit.  Everything generally works out OK for Leo despite the obvious foresight most have of his impending disastrous next move.  "Yeah, I got this idea about riding a unicycle across the telephone line..."  Somehow he will land harmlessly in a shrub when he immediately falls from the second story from his unicycle.  It's just the way it works out.  I would like to go on record that he will likely win a major lottery prize before he dies.  He will also lose the ticket afterwards and never claim the prize, but he will at least win it.  I knew he would be our man for this wager.

Leo stared at the table.  He watched a few spins.  "OK.  Play black."  I took all of our cash (Cash plays!  Cash plays!) and placed it on black.  The clicking of the roulette wheel began to slow. Click, click,  "Black!  Black's a winner!".   Of course, Leo picked the winner.  The guy is absolute gold.  We get our chips slid across the felt to us and head directly to the cage to cash out.  It was time to leave Canada, take our money and eat the best meal we could find in Erie (which wound up being a sort of awful seafood meal at some joint down by the Public Dock).  The whole incident does provide a couple of life lessons though.  1.  Do not try to bullshit your way through Canadian customs.  2.  Sometimes a coin flip will come up a winner.  Don't overthink it.

I don't have a real clue as to who will win either conference championship game.  The Saints are at home with a crowd already wasted on cheap hurricanes and wearing plastic beads.  However, Brees clearly has some arm injury that will limit his game to dink-n-dunk passing.  The Rams are loaded, but Gurley's knees are being held together by prayers.  Does that mean Goff can carry the day?  Shit.  I have no idea. 

That leads me to the Kansas City v Patriots game.  It's in Kansas City where the weather is going to be "cold as shit".  Playing football in 12 degrees really sucks.  That is going to limit KC's ability to run deep routes, which means The Hoodie will come up with all sorts of wacky ass defensive tricks for Mahomes to deal with on Sunday.  The Patriots looked awesome last Sunday, absolutely unstoppable.  Will that translate to a repeat performance this week?  Shit.  I have no idea.  I do know this.  Of all 104 teams that made the Super Bowl, only 2 had a losing road record.  The Patriots went 3-5 on the road this year.  That is attention getting.  OK, I want some action.  I am on Kansas City -3 in a coin flip.  Well, unless Leo tells me "New England".           


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