It was obvious that I hit a raw and exposed nerve and she was coming out swinging. You could hear the pain in her voice and see the vinegar in her eyes. You leave me alone with anyone long enough and I will likely walk into a personal door jam or catch a case of foot-in-mouth disease. I don't need any help; I can make an ass of my own damn self. As luck would have it, the Seanachai was there to push me into the throbbing nerve.
The Seanachai was in town working and we caught up with each other on Wednesday night. He, Miss W and I ate sushi and I spent all of dinner catching up (he lives in Charlotte now). We then retired for some after-dinner poker at Mandalay Bay. I am a very social poker player. I like to get an atmosphere of casualness at the table. By getting everyone talking and laughing, it is much easier for me to win. Money flows if everyone is taking the game a bit less seriously. Seanachai fell right in step and we got everyone chatting it up and betting away.
After an hour of cards a new player joined the table and sat between S and me.
She had a scarecrow's physique and, despite the enormous time and money spent on her facial skin, her hands confessed her age. I venture she was in her late thirties and something about her smelled unmarried and unattached.
She fell into the flow of the game and jokes and chatter at the table. Seanachai and I kept the mood of the table going (and it was already paying off in our stacks). Miss W showed up to check on me and I walked over to the rail after I folded my hand.
Apparently, in my absence the subject of me came up (what else would anyone talk about?) between Miss Scarecrow and the Seanachai. When I returned I caught the tail-end of the conversation.
"You two are talking about me... I can tell."
"I was explaining to her how you are definitely not the bad guy but you not the good guy either", offered Seanachai.
I motioned to where Miss W was a moment ago, "So you explained the whole 'me and her' thing?"
"Yep, I could have handled the thing better but I could have handled it worse as well." I settled back into my seat and got ready for a new hand.
Then the probing started. "Why have you not told her how you feel?"
Her questions were simple, harmless and obvious. She sounded very curious about the situation. I explained the state of affairs and justified nothing. My clarification seemed to satisfy her and she continued playing.
I thought the subject was over.
I restarted some conversations with some of the other players and the dealer kept dealing and chips kept flying. Little did I know, Scarecrow was climbing up the ridge to get a good angle on me in the gully. She took careful aim and fired.
"Is it really that you are so cruel and insecure that you can't function without someone tagging along and adoring you?"
She is aiming for the head but the shot only grazed my shoulder.
I took a second before I responded. Your first reaction when blind-sided is seldom the best reaction.
"Nope. I have the insecure in spades but lack the cruel. I see how it can seem that I am just keeping her around but it's not like that." I went on to clarify, again, how the trip and the other couple complicated things.
"You are a liar and cruel jerk and you should feel ashamed of yourself."
The second bullet flew and this one was probably going to hit its mark. I will talk to anyone all day about my behavior. I will let anyone critique my actions and choices. I don’t stand for name calling. Never been a fan of it and I never will be. It is one thing to say what I am doing is cruel, it is another thing to say the I AM a cruel person.
As great friends do, Seanachai saw it all unfolding. He was the guy on the wagon train that saw the flick of the sun off the gun barrel at the top of the ridge and yells "Bandits!" just in time.
She fired and he pushed me out of harms way.
"You mean you've never allowed a situation to slide farther than you wanted?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"...and have you ever hurt someone - you know - broke their heart?"
"Do you think they saw it as cruel when you did it?"
"Do you think if they told us the story of what happened you would be cast as the cruel one?"
"Are you a cruel person? I doubt it. Well neither is Hofz here. Believe him or not, he was trying not to be cruel and it led him here.
"Remember when he said he could have handled it better? Trust me, he could have handled it worse. He is not a cruel jerk anymore than you are a mean bitch."
She gave some non-committal shrug of acknowledgement and played two more hands, losing all of her chips. She stood up and left with a purpose, "I'm tired and wanted to go to sleep anyway."
Seanachai looked at me, "Where the hell did THAT come from?"
"No kidding, she decided to pull the sniper rifle out and take a few shots from a distance", then I though a bit, "I know what happened. Someone did it to her recently."
"Bingo", Seanachai gave me the finger-gun firing gesture.
A gentleman took her place at the table and caught Seanachai and I recounting what happened.
"Where was this chick from?", he asked.
"I think she said LA."
Then he summed it up for us.
"Shit son, what do you expect? Girls from LA are barely held together with hairspray and bailing wire anyways."