Wage(r)s of Sin

Coin flipping was the first real betting I ever did. You know, two or more kids get together and take turns predicting the results of several flipped coins…“odd”…“even”. Sure could go through a pocketful of hard come by pennies fast, boy howdy. And those circle flips with as many players as could be rounded up…“no way, it was 6 heads and 7 tails, I called odd, so gimmee the money.”

How about marbles? In our version we didn’t shoot them with the thumb but rather, threw them hard across a big field. Everybody anted up a coin per marble first, then you swapped the unwanted ones back for cash at the end. Once everyone got bored with all the long distance mortar attacks, a rather powerful end game usually occured within about a 10 foot circle. Aggies and cleariess and cateyes - pure gold once. If The Mom could be wangled into sewing up a small drawstring bag out of an old pair of bluejeans that when nearly full up hung real nice from a belt loop, well then, life was nearly perfect.

Lagging or pitching coins up against a wall or curb might have been next. Quarters hefted real nice in the hand, but man, the risk of loss. Then again, the prospect of winning a 7 or 8 quarter lineup because yours was actually touching the wall after a 10 foot toss was a highly motivating prospect.

Mumblypeg. Other than fashioning slingshots, there never seemed to be anything finer to do during the summer, with a knife, than flip or toss it around bare feet. Some would drive a stick into the ground and throw the knife overhand to see who could get closest. Others would balance the knife on blade point, on various parts of the body, then loft it up or let it tip off hoping it would stick in the grass. Hard core combatants played for their knives but us weenies would only risk pocket change.

Of course distance challenges were always popular. Pissin’, watermelon seed spittin’, pumpkin seed pinchin’, slingshot can knockin’, sodipop cap saucerin’, loogie thwppin’. Someone could always come up with a new one.

Later on came all the variations of poker:[ul][li]Cards at a folding table, of course. Yep, strip poker was a real event during those early and ever so hormonal years. Beat the heck outta the Sears catalogue lingerie section or National Geographic’s Balinese extravaganza, to be sure.[]Coffee cups from vending machines, with five cards printed on the side and bottom played for the next cuppa jo.[]Odometer readings at a fixed time in the parking lot before work at a sawbuck a pop. Some guys put a lot of extra miles on their jalopies in the wee hours searching for that winning ‘hand’. []Dollar bill serial numbers as straight or liars poker. Ran into a guy with a priceless four 10s bill once, didn’t play again for a long time.[]Liars dice with the bartender for drinks or free play on the jukebox and pool table.Truly hardcore poker with the ceegars and whiskey and green felt and blurry eyes and those pots - damn, the size of those pots![/ul]Then at some point, the method of resolving a wager became odder. Weigh yourself in grams on a laboratory scale before lunch, play your weight gain as a poker hand after lunch. 1,000.0 grams (2.2 lbs) for four 10s and an ace was a reasonable goal, but 1,111.1 grams for five aces was the ultimate even if you were rather full from the attempt. Carefully calculated, all liquid lunches were considered poor sportsmanship even if only wishful thinking. Of course, no one ever achieved anything other than a more or less completely random weight. The price of a martini lunch could be daunting depending on where the winner chose to dine.[/li]
Or the exiting of a reasonably functional aircraft at altitude with the sole goal of determining who could remove and replace the most articles of clothing before deploying. Many landings were made with the short and curlies fluttering wildly because the pucker factor had seemingly weakened the grip. Road rash could become an issue.

And then there was that darn centrifuge just across town. Who knew the thrill and discomfort lurking behind the position of a rheostat all for the sake of a wager and an imagined position at the top of the testosterone totem. The medtechs would strap you in and wire you up, get some base readings then ask if it was a matter of maximum g force or duration at a fixed load. There were thousand dollar pots on more occasions than most would deem healthy. Some altered their overall lifestyle for the better part of a year just to increase the odds of winning.

Straight poker is all that is done now. I haven’t played or heard of anything odd in years, until last week.

Circumstances led me to suit up and enter the containment building of a reactor at a generating station during a refueling outage. I was told there was an old slide rule buddy from decades past who I hoped to surprise, inside. We swapped a few war stories, agreed to meet later, then I wandered off to find the mechanics who were working on the seals of one of the reactor coolant pumps. These seals are rather elaborate and important and I had never seen an assembly before. After a thorough look-see, I went strolling about just to watch all the activity.

Now, one of the requirements of access to this structure is that a dosimeter is attached in the neighborhood of one’s chest. These are checked out by social security number and read by a device when you exit. Exposures in mrem are recorded to your personal annual history.

Back in an area of almost zero activity, on a large horizontal pipe flange that was well tagged with all the pertinent technical data, was a personal dosimeter. My guess was that it had to have been placed there so I moved away to where it could be watched. This was near the end of a shift and shortly a young man came to claim his PD.

This fellow was an HP (health physics) full time plant employee. He and a buddy were betting on their predicted dose for the day and attempting to effect the outcome by moving the dosimeters around to higher and lower areas of emissivity. The bodily risks from this behavior are actually quite low under normal circumstances, but mistakes can be made and accidents do happen. This was as close to Russian (roentgen?) roulette as I’ve ever seen. At the most basic level they were risking loss of rather lucrative jobs.

Darn youngsters these days.[sub](innocuous grin)[/sub] What’s this world coming to?

Would that hormones could be harnessed for the production of electricity.

The Teemings Transcendental Testosterone Turbine - Unlimited Horsepower for the Masses! [sub](just ask us)[/sub]

It’s a guy thing. I cannot get together with my long time buddies without betting on something, anything. Poker night ain’t as frequent as it used to be, but when it happens it’s still as gutwrenching as ever. My buddy adores wildcards. When I deal it’s straight 7 card stud. I may get all jiggy and call 7 card, high Chi, low hole (7 card stud, low hole card wild, high spade in the hole splits the pot). When he deals it’s usually along the lines of “7 card, low hole, low Chi (can’t be your low hole), follow the Queen, Queen wild” or “7 card Dr. Pepper, a 4 showing costs a dollar for an extra card or fold, King of diamonds showing means re-deal”. It takes 5 of a kind to have any chance. I usually get a headache. Side bets are common, but comletely separate from the above.

A game of golf goes something like this:

  • $5 front nine + $5 back nine + $10 overall total
  • 50 cents/hole, skins format with winner take all carryovers
  • 50 cents/hole for: long drive (in the fairway), first on the green, closest to the pin, and longest put made
    They say golf is 90% mental. It must be. I get headaches there, too.

Males, money and measurements - a fool’s paradise.

Interesting Doc, but please excuse me if I decline a seat at your card table. Maybe it’s a generational thing, or merely that I’m just too feeble minded, but I could never come to grips with a poker game that has so many conditions attached. Next time you get the chance, try to get the boys to go an hour or two at 5 card. Basic to be sure, but very pure, and room is there to truly develop a bluff while learning to read one.

Four hours outdoors with pals, 2-4 mile jaunt depending on your play, regardless the skill level a round of golf is good. There may be a greater variety of bets that can be run concurrently over the course of 18 holes than in most any other sport. For what it’s worth, your game is pretty much the way many like to play. Dollar value may vary, but the basic clean bets will keep most, interested.

A guy thing to be sure, but with luck, one will meet a great dame or two over the years with similar tendencies.

Paradise nonetheless.