Shady Transactions and Bad Bets

Every week or so, I conduct a really shady transaction. If you’ve ever been involved, even in a tertiary way, in the dark side of life – the part of excess, the part with danger, the part where you sometimes don’t want people to see what you’re doing, even in public, you’ll know the feeling I mean.

But I can’t help it. I need it. I get in my car intending to head straight home, but I have to make a stop first. I point the car down a narrow alleyway. I pull up to a nondescript wall and press a button.

Nobody says anything.

A metal drawer slides out, and I put in my part of the trade. The drawer slides shut. I wait, looking around to see who is watching.

A couple of minutes later, the drawer silently slides back open. I collect my loot, roll up my window and drive away.

This is how I get my library books and movies. It’s so crazy.

I suppose everyone tries not to take bad bets, but I am generally not a betting person, unless I’m really, really pretty sure I’m right. There’s a famous story in my family of when I was a little kid and my family was at a flea market. My Mom was looking at some kind of multi-shelved wardrobe that would replace the one that sat on our back porch, where she kept a lot of dishes and bowls. She was saying how the one she was looking at would be better because it had five shelves and the one at home only had three. I told her it had four shelves and she patted my head. Poor little kid, I know you don’t know because you don’t use it as much as I do, but it’s MY cabinet and I know how many shelves it has and it only has three. “It has FOUR, Mom,” I was CERTAIN. My Dad, ever the bargainer, suggested we bet on it. Mom offered to bet me a dollar. This was when I was about 8 and only getting like 50 cents a week in allowance. I went all in and said $10 or nothing. She agreed and we shook on it.

Of course I was right. You see, little kids see the bottom as well as the top, and the adult only sees what’s in front of them.

So when I went out for happy hour with work colleagues last week, I took a bet when it was presented. I was certain, CERTAIN the details were different than what my co-worker remembered. We clarified the terms, bet a large amount of money, and shook on it. Co-worker was pretty drunk by the point in the evening when this bet was made – the outing was to celebrate her birthday, and she had a ride home, so the wine had been free-flowing for a while. This made me even more sure I was right. I couldn’t get the definitive answer on my phone and neither could she – mobile technology has its limits, so we left.

I knew she’d never bring it up again. Hell, she may not even have remembered it. And in trying to research the answer, which was information that was almost 9 months old, which is an eternity on social media, I had to google a lot of shortcuts and advanced search options to really get the right answer.

The answer is, I was wrong. There was good reason I thought I was right, once the past was uncovered, but when you got down to the dirty, bare bones facts, I was wrong.

Many people might not think I am a person of honor, but I honor my bets. I went to her yesterday and told her I was wrong. She vaguely remembered the bet and then, with some prompting, remembered the stakes and the details. She agreed to let me off by buying her a drink some time, for which I was grateful.

The bad bet was a symbol of a bad day in a bad week. I’m overly emotional and very sick, and two friends have been diagnosed with cancer this week. I was a begging, bribing fuck last night in terms of parenthood as I really needed my son to give me a break. I  would have felt pretty bad about taking the easy way out, with TWO pieces of Halloween candy and two TV shows as “rewards” for him just doing what I needed him to do without whining, arguing or complaining, except for the part where he came out to the kitchen and gave me this really awesome little spontaneous hug. I really needed that hug.


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