Tuesday we took Steffie to college and came home without her. Maybe she doesn’t realize this was a seminal moment, but Helaine and I did. We may joke about diapers and Desitin but it’s all true – all part of the fabric of our lives.
Steffie should still be a baby in much the same way candy bars should still be a nickel, phone calls a dime and the subway fifteen cents.
We came home ’empty nesters.’
With nothing to do Wednesday (I took another vacation day), we decided to head to Foxwoods Casino¹ to try our luck. We’re lucky because Connecticut’s two casinos are close enough to get to with no problem and far enough to keep us from going more than a few times a year.
As a poker player I’m always looking to see how my brick and mortar skills stack up against what I do online. I think I’ve become a good player and this would be a test.
I sat down at a $10-$20 table, hoping to hold my own and setting a ‘stop loss’ amount in my head. With a break for dinner, I played around nine hours.
My bankroll went up and down like a cork bobbing in a stormy sea. I was up early, then watched the money bleed away. After a few hours I went ‘all in’ on a hand, risking my limit, but winning the pot.
As I approached our time to go home, and my last hand, I was down enough to note, but not enough to matter. I was big blind – forced to bet. My two cards were King and Four of Spades.
Normally, I’d throw them away, but I was in by virtue of the blind bet.
The flop came with two more spades… and then the betting. The odds were less than 50:50 I’d pick up another spade. On the turn, nothing – what poker players call a rag.
More betting. Now, with one card left, my odds were under 1:4. Because of the substantial money already in the pot, over the long run it made sense to invest in this hand. Sure I’d lose most times, but when I’d win it would more than make up for the busts.
The river card brought the Ace of Spades. My flush was made – and I bet.
I had ‘the nuts’ – an unbeatable hand. The one other person in the pot (I’d later find he had two aces already, giving him 3 of a kind) immediately knew I’d hit. He called my bet, adding twenty more dollars to the stack of chips.
That one hand took me from small time loser to substantial winner.
I got up and cashed in my chips. Then I walked across the casino floor to where Helaine was playing Caribbean Stud Poker. She was sitting at a moderately full table with at least one semi-obnoxious drunk. Everyone else, including the dealers and bosses, were very nice.
After a few minutes my cellphone rang. It was Steffie and she was very upset. There had been a dance to culminate her orientation session. When she returned to her room, her Ipod was gone!
She had done all the right things – spoken to campus security and filled out forms. That isn’t the point. Even the cost of the Ipod, substantial as it is, isn’t the point.
Having someone enter your private space and go through your belongings, then take something of yours, is unnerving. You feel unclean. You have been violated. It has happened to me and I feel her pain.
That this would happen in her second night in a dorm is awful.
I told Helaine my hope was there would be a silver lining in this cloud – and there was. The kids Steffie had become friendly with stayed at her side. She said a contingent actually slept on the floor of her room.
Today, when we came to get her, it was obvious she had been bruised by this experience – but not scarred. That is an excellent sign.
Other than the Ipod incident, everything went perfectly. She got the classes she wanted at the times she wanted. She wouldn’t go to school too early on Mondays nor too late on Fridays.
I am so jealous.
I have a good feeling about this college thing. Steffie exudes a confidence and maturity I haven’t seen before. She wears it well.
She had always been told, kids from her high school found college to be easier than what they’d just experienced. As she began to hear this year’s expectations of her from the school administrators, she realized that was no fairy tale. They were scaring kids with stories of work less demanding than what she’d just completed!
She has the preparation and ability to thrive.
I will miss Steffie when she goes to school. The truth is, life with her has never been better or more fun. I’m not writing anything she doesn’t already know.
¹ – Connecticut has two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. They’re both quite nice. Mohegan Sun is a little closer. It used to offer poker, but mysteriously (about twenty minutes before the big poker explosion) they closed their room and moved in slot machines.