Monday, April 21, 2008

One game of poker

Ever since I was a child, I knew that there was a teeny tiny part of me that had a certain disposition that one of my uncles had. I don't really see it in any of my other relatives except him. It's something I don't admire at all, in fact, it's something I've grown to dislike.

It's a competitive side.

I don't know if it's a Yellow thing or just a human thing. From what I can remember, my uncle had a very particular attitude. He had to be number one. He had to be better than everyone and outperform everyone (including my dad, his brother). He liked to call my dad once in a while and taunt my dad with the grades his sons got over me or my brother, or brag about the schools his sons got into -- all for the sole purpose of rubbing it in. And any time he (or either of his sons) fell short of number one, he would get enraged. Almost violently enraged.

I really didn't like that about him.

Yet as I grew up, I realized a tiny part of him was in me. During certain games or certain events, I would sometimes lose. And it would hit a nerve. And then I'd get angry. Really angry. Really pissy and angry. I typified the sore sore loser. And then I'd want to get back at my opponent again. And if/when that opponent beat me again, I'd have a temper tantrum and be sulky for the next day or two.

It just didn't seem like a healthy way to be. So over the years, I've learned to quell that competitive tick. I managed to tuck this part of me away in the farthest part of the lowest drawer of a locked cabinet that is in the back of my closet behind the skeletons. So when I lose a game or even get my ass whooped, I'd laugh it off and say "good game, good game." I'd be a good sport. Once in a while, a small thing will set it off. But for the most part, I have it under lock and key and in control.

Until last night.

Yesterday the boyf and I had a nice little bbq in his friends' backyard. We had chips and picante salsa, burgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken. We drank wine and beer and chatted about the weather, politics, the news, television, anything. It was fun.

Then one of the guys said "Okay I'm setting up the poker table! Who's in?" A few guys raised their beers. I looked at the boyf who had his "It's on"-game face.

I remembered how, on our way to the bbq, the boyf told me they might play poker. It was at that point I decided to tell him about my Competitive Side. I assured him I'm usually laid back about stuff. But every once in a while, something will hit a nerve and I'll revert into an unreasonably pissy and angry sore loser. "At that point," I warned him, "just lay off. Don't egg it on. Because I get seriously pissed. Seriously."

"Oh okay," he said as he pulled into the driveway.

Back to the present -- we're sitting at our poker game. Each of us has a stack of chips in front of us representing $20. And we start playing. I get shitty cards all night. A 2 of hearts and a 4 of clubs. A 3 of diamonds and a 7 of spades. I'm slightly annoyed but whatevs. It's just a game. My chips dwindle away from the blinds. I'm pretty conservative and I won't bluff unless I feel like I have a modest hand. Which I don't.

So one game, when I was dealt two queens, I felt like it was my time to win. I decided to wait until later in the game to bet seriously, thinking I had it. Then I get beaten by a flush. When I showed my cards, everyone moaned. "You should have gone all in in the beginning." The guy who won (my boyf's Best Bud incidentally) remarks to me, "Yeah, it really doesn't make sense for you to bet like that when you had pocket queens," as he's taking away my chips and adding them to his mountain of chips. "You're just going to lose," he added with a smile and a shrug.

The cabinet in the back of the closet began to rumble. But I keep it shut.

"Wow Yellow Gal, your chips look really low! You've lost a lot, huh?" a passerby said.

I remained silent. The boyf was next to me, being ever so observant, fully warned, and obedient, remained silent.

In the next several hands, my chips continue to dwindle from the blinds. Then I am dealt a king and an ace. I go all in. Two other guys call and raise. The dealer then deals three cards on the table: an ace, a king, and a jack. The betting begins. Best Bud ends up with ( you guessed it) a queen and a ten. He again, along with several onlookers, begins to give me unsolicited advice about my poker playing, my betting strategy (or lack thereof) and how I should have predicted X, Y and Z and my failure to do so resulted in losing all my chips.

This was my first time playing poker. So instead of gladly accepting all of this wonderful advice, I said, "Wow, most of what you said is over my head, but thanks anyway."

I watched in silence as my boyf, his Best Bud, and another gentleman played on. Best Bud's girlfriend remarked, "Wow, you guys analyze the game so much." Best Bud remarked, "Well, it's precisely because we analyze the game that we're the only ones here playing with everyone else's money." The girlfriend laughed and slapped his shoulder. "That was so mean!"

"What," he said, looking around the table, "it's true isn't it? Am I wrong?"

I suddenly remembered all those old cheesy western films where in some dusty saloon in the wild west, a couple cowboys are in a game of poker, when one cowboy reveals his hand of four aces and gleefully pockets the cash and change into his sack. The loser then gets bent out of shape and flips over the table and aims his gun at the winner's forehead. It seemed like such an overreaction at the time. Who gets that pissed over a game of poker?

The answer was me. I was stunned by Best Bud's cocky comment. And livid. And as he mused over his mountain of earnings, the tiny piece inside of me that was tucked inside the bottom drawer of the locked cabinet had escaped by now and was rampaging around the closet, but I kept the closet door firmly shut and my face stoic.

We decided to cash in our earnings at a certain point and call it a night. My boyf managed to win back my earnings plus his, so together, we broke even. Still, as we walked to my boyf's car, I said, "Can you beat Best Bud next time and take away all of his money?"

Boyf replied, "Hmm, he pissed you off, didn't he?"

"Uh huh," I said as I got into his car.

On the way home, I stewed in silence, feeling the rage pour up from my stomach, through my chest, into my throat and, irritatingly, up to my eyes.


"Aw Yellow Gal," the boyf said. "Is this what you warned me about?"

"DON'T worry. I warned you, this is my pissy side. It'll go away."

The boyf said, "Okay, we shouldn't play poker anymore."

"No," I said. I knew it was my first time playing with real money, and that the boyf's friends probably have been playing it for years and years, but a part of me, the competitive side, wanted to learn the game, master it, and stick it to Best Bud and laugh at him as I buy myself a pair of shoes with the money he donated to me.

So PETTY, I yelled at myself, You're letting the terrorists win. You're letting Best Bud under your skin. You're letting him get the best of you.

Then the thing that was bursting out of the closet said, He will so rue the day he lectured you on poker.

So yes, the pissy DNA strand that I share with my uncle is alive and kicking. I'm not sure whether I should relent to it and let it drive me to kick the ass of and humiliate Best Bud. Or get over it and take the high road.

Needless to say, I'm still pissed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Conversations with an Asian Parent

Conversation 1:

Asian kid: "Look I got an A on my test!"

Asian parent: "Did you get a 100%?"

Asian kid: "No...a 97%."

Asian parent: "What did you get wrong?"

Asian kid: "A couple questions on--"

Asian parent: "I thought you said you studied."

Asian kid: "I did!"

Asian parent: "If you studied, you would have gotten a 100%. You didn't. You didn't study hard enough."

Asian kid: "I did study hard..."

Asian parent: "How many other people got A's?"

Asian kid: "I don't know..."

Asian parent: "So maybe everyone got a 100% and you got a 97%?"

Asian kid: "I don't know..."

Asian parent: " 'I don't know'? 'I don't know' is why you got 97%, not 100%. Study more next time."

Conversation 2:

Asian kid: "Hey I learned Rachmanonov's Piano Concerto No. 3!"

Asian parent: "How old are you? 12 now? Jenny Lee learned that when she was 10."

Asian kid: "It's really hard..."

Asian kid: "Well, if you were smarter or worked harder, you would have learned it before Jenny Lee. You must either be dumber or lazier. Study more next time."


Conversation 3:

Asian kid: "Hey I got into Harvard!"

Asian parent: "And?"

Asian kid: "And...I got in! I'm so excited!"

Asian parent: "No scholarship?"

Asian kid: "No..."

Asian parent: "Hm, you didn't study enough."

Asian kid: "'s...Harvard."

Asian parent: "If you studied harder, you would have gotten scholarship."

Asian kid: "I was valedictorian of my class--"

Asian parent: "Study more next time."

Some stereotypes have a ring of truth to them.
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