Monday, May 31, 2010

The Man Who Ate Cheese: The Grossest Poker Story Ever Told

A few years ago I was playing in an underground poker game when I heard the kind of story that instantly sears itself onto the brain.

The atmosphere surrounding the game, a healthy mixture of fun and danger, is important to note when considering the details of the story. It was the kind of poker game run by some midlevel bookmakers with security doors and video cameras. The guys were very friendly to all the players, but had the usual guns and muscle around to ominously back up the smiles. You know, the free pizza and soda buffet; but I tell you things got uncomfortable for a half hour one night when the cameras captured a random police cruiser flashing outside.

After a few sessions at a good game, you slowly get to know the dealers and players. Between all the bluffs and calls, the same stories are told and retold. It is a natural way to fill the silence between riffling chips. The outrageous and humorous stories passed around the table, “poker stories,” come to define players' identities as much as the way they play their hands. They are typically brief, only the duration of a hand or two, and sometimes smothered in a gravvy of bravado.

At this particular game, there was an older gentleman who was the source of the grossest “poker story” I’ve ever heard.

I first heard the story a couple weeks earlier from one of the burly dealers. Though the story borders on unbelievable, I knew it was generally believed by a group of guys who knew the subject better, and had seen far more in their lives, than I. Its disgusting details are the only reason I ever had to doubt it. True or not, it remains the grossest “poker story” I’ve ever heard.

The "gentleman" was a retired car salesman, who had likely dabbled in other, less above the board businesses. Despite the old man's advance years, he was a still a large, lumbering, who enjoyed a drink, and no doubt had experienced more than one fight in his life. Although he was battling some serious health problems, in his flippant behavior, I could detect the possibility of truth behind the tale.

Apparently, the older "gentleman" I sat beside at the poker table had been involved in a fight during his younger years. As he pounded the victim, who owed a debt, his opponent began to vomit.

Our hero was less concerned about the puke and more intent upon sending a message. From the puddle on the ground, he plucked up a yet undigested piece of cheese, and, you might easily guess... ate that cheese, right it in front of his face, just to fuck with him.

I'm not sure if after hearing these details if any of us remembered to ask if he ever got the money back.

Usually, a man carelessly wth money, as this "gentleman" certainly was, has purchaced a good share of stories in fair trade.