Thursday, July 20, 2006

Penny Foolish, Pound Foolish.

Strange things happen in the immediate aftermath of losing a lot of money very quickly. Rather than tighten my belt and try to preserve what little I have left, I’ve found that I tend to squander even more recklessly. To scrimp and save, to begin to act responsibly in the wake of wastefulness, to clip coupons -- these options are not at all attractive.

Within a session of poker, especially online, this impulse to piss away the remaining crumbs of a once healthy balance constitutes the worst kind of tilt. And it won’t come as a surprise to the poker players among you that I am the worst kind of tilter. Or the best kind, depending on how sanguine you are about kicking a person when he’s down. Anyway, this impulse suggests that I want to get rid of that miserable $38.27 or whatever it is as soon as possible -- that this tiny, messy fraction is somehow a more heinous reminder of my decline than the neat symmetry of “$0.00.”

The phenomenon carries over to ‘real life.’ When I look at my bank statement and see something like this:




ECHECK -250.00

ECHECK -250.00


ECHECK -750.00

ECHECK -500.00

ECHECK -1,250.00

ECHECK -2,250.00

I can’t get too excited about fixing a mess like that by ordering a “tall” instead of a “venti”. So usually -- and I’ve stared down the barrel of my fair share of bank statements like these -- I’ll do whatever I can to psychologically minimize the magnitude of these losses. Usually that means essentially behaving as though I had won the amount that I lost. “Drinks are on me, everybody!” To cower in fear, to wait for the creditors' calls to resume on Monday morning is a fate worse than death to me. I’d prefer to check out from reality entirely. If a tree falls in the forest, et cetera. Put another way: if I don’t even react to the significance of my awful night of gambling by adjusting my conduct, did it ever even touch me?

Armed to the teeth with this convenient set of existential riddles, I arrived in Atlantic City late on the evening before New Year’s Eve. My new leather wallet held five one-hundred dollar bills, the proceeds of my recently-concluded Christmas charity tour.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it dont answer mii queation if i were u i would answer pepls queation lyk day asked u 2
~ya digg~

5:13 PM  

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