Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wallet Poker

I've been trying to find a way to describe wallet poker since the fall of 1999, when the game was discovered in the bland atmosphere of Mr. Loucks now-vacant high school homeroom. Every morning, for better or worse, I would sit idle for fifteen minutes as good ol' Harvey Loucks (as he was known to arrogant teenagers like myself) would call attendance, preside over the pledge of allegiance and then sit quietly at his desk hoping we didn't set anything on fire.

Boredom was automatic during this morning respite from the drudgery of the class, so we had to invent our own fun. Two of my peers had taken to slapping each other with the pull cords from the widnow blinds, much to Harvey's dismay. Looking back, I guess this masochistic behavior is kind of disturbing through the eyes of a high school teacher, but at the time I thought it was funny as hell. But I wasn't big on actually getting slapped, so I had to get a bit more creative in my efforts for entertainment.

My friend Jeff, the one currently exploring Japan with nothing more than a camera, a smile and a girlfriend who I'm sure knows a few more phrases in the native language than he might, sat next to me during these homeroom hijinks. I'm not sure who initiated the contest, but we began to compare the silly items that, over time, we had collected in our wallets.

Mens' wallets are magnets for odd coupons, crumpled receipts, withered pictures and the occasional "FBI - Federal Breast Inspector" cards. The inherent comedic value of each item makes it difficult to trash -- who knows when you'll want to show off the two-for-one Texas hot wieners coupon you got at the fair last year?

So Jeff and I began to compare, saving our most unique items for last. Each successful round would up the ante a bit -- no actual betting would take place, but neither wanted to suffer the shame of having a lame story. And stories are really what wallet poker is all about -- the items themselves are insignificant -- it's the stories related to the items that make them valuable. For example -- a generic library card would be pretty low on the scale, but a generic library card associated with 12 overdue books -- in your brothers name, no less -- is a veritable flush draw in the world of wallet poker.

Some exaggeration is to be expected -- all of the best stories are exaggerated. But this is wallet poker's equivalent to bluffing -- bullshit a little too much and you're bound to be called on it. So the picture you have of that girl you dated at the beach is pretty hot, right? Why can't you remember her last name? So you didn't really date her, you just got her to give you a picture? And the pictures old? And she's actually your cousin?

Well, you get the idea.

So wallet poker was born in Mr. Loucks class; a game entirely fantastic in its scope and utterly unrealistic to play in most instances. But when the serendipitous occasion arises, and you are stuck at the DMV with your cousins' brother-in-law, perhaps this is a chance to get to know him a little better. The contents of a man's life are documented in his wallet, the one place where money tells the least about a person.


Blogger Jeff said...

Ahh, I remember it as if it happened only 5-6 years ago. After reminiscing about Wallet Poker with Erin it was clear she required a tutorial. She caught on surprising quick and I soon realized I was in the midst of a worthy adversary. A flurry of expired triple A cards, library cards and coupons for internet cafes piled high. Just as I thought I had sewn up victory with my Diamond Preferred MasterCard Erin dealt me a one-two punch...a floss card (yes a card that dispenses floss) and the Royal flush the Premium Platinum Preferred Plus Visa card (which benefits Dickinson students with every purchase). I was defeated and humbled. We'll play again ... someday.

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Agile Nobile Mobile Projectile

1:39 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I played only once, with you and Internet Allison. But you know what? I've been keeping things in my wallet ever since JUST IN CASE an impromtu game ever suddenly breaks out.

10:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home