Pain is Funny

Hi. Hello. Splendid day to you. How are the kids? Say hi to your wife. That would be a great way to start an introduction. Instead of saying your name when you shake a man’s hand, just go “say hi to your wife for me.” I wonder how many times you would get punched in the face if you did that. A fair amount, one can assume. What am I saying? Where am I? Oh, yes. I’m back in Austin.

I drove here from San Diego in two days, so that was less than ideal. Life hasn’t been very kind to me over the past week, so sitting in a car for 18 hours driving through the dessert was interesting. Talk about nowhere to escape, holy Moses on a bed of roses. Nobody wants to hear my sob story, though. I wouldn’t even know where to start, anyways. Maybe I should just write one of those “based on a true story” novels.

Sometimes, when it comes to life, all you can do is laugh. That’s actually my top recommendation. Except when you’re at a funeral, that’s awkward. I have this problem (I don’t know if it’s genetic or airborne) where if something is too serious for me to handle, I just start laughing. Yeah, not good. I wish it was airborne, then the people around me would start laughing too and I wouldn’t look like such a maniac. Ooh, you know what would be really neat? If every time someone was infected with COVID, they started laughing uncontrollably. Who needs a mask when you can hear Gary losing his mind in aisle six? Canned beans will have to wait another day.

What if COVID cured racism? Would you still get the jab, you fucking bigot? This post has been flagged for misinformation – your friends at the CDC. Things are crazy right now. The CDC has so much power. I called US border control the other day to try and get more information on what would happen if someone was a citizen of one country and a permanent resident of another and they happened to be forced to leave the United States. They referred me to the CDC… I was like what in God’s green dick does that have to do with the CDC?

So, yeah. The CDC basically controls everything right now. Who goes where, specifically. They try to make it intentionally confusing to travel right now to discourage and deny people from doing so. They tell you one thing on the phone and another at the airport. They say one thing on their website and then contradict themselves somewhere else. It’s bananas. Bananas and oranges shoved up your bum. That’s what it is.

I got to see my friends, though. That was cool. I miss my friends. Clayton came to visit me here in Austin before I left, and then I was able to see Jordan and Adam in LA and San Diego. I miss my friends. I’ve made some new friends here in Austin, but nothing is the same as hanging out with friends you’ve had for at least a decade. I’m super grateful to have such good friends.

Adam and I went to the poker room to play some cards in San Diego one of the days I was there. We sat down at different tables, but we wanted to play together. I was only at my table for a couple minutes before a guy at Adam’s table asked me if I wanted to switch him seats. I said yeah, but I was being dealt cards at the time so I’d have to wait til the next hand. I get dealt pocket queens, so I raise to $20. I bought in for $300. A guy on the button raises to $100. Another guy only had $90 and called. Another guy calls the $100. I’m sitting there thinking, “this hand is crazy.” I can either go all-in or call at this point. It’s probably the right play to just go all-in, but I decide I’ll call and if the flop doesn’t show an ace then I’ll shove all-in.

The flop comes Queen, Jack, Two. I have the best possible hand, three queens. I check, and the guy who raised to $100 bets $100 again. I raise all-in for $200. He calls. I’m certain he has pocket aces or kings at this point. Maybe Ace-King. No, he flips over Ace-Jack. Turns out he played the hand like a complete noob and likes to give his money away. Nice. It’s pretty much impossible for him to win this hand. He either needs running jacks or running aces.

The turn card comes another jack. Ha, that’s funny. Hey, at least he’s got one out! The last jack in the deck. The river comes and… it’s the jack. No way. I flopped top set and this guy went runner-runner to hit quads. Like I said, nearly impossible. The dealer gasped and said “oh my god!” Yeah, that was the reaction out of someone who deals hands all day every day. This never happens.

Deflating doesn’t even begin to describe it. I felt like I got hit with a hundred cannonballs made of dick. I try to find a reason for everything, and maybe this statistical anomaly was what I needed to actually feel deep sadness. When bad things happen to me, I often try to push them away and move on rather than feeling my emotions first. After this happened, there was no avoiding the pain. It all came rushing through me like something that comes rushing through you really hard would rush through you.

After a few minutes, I went into the bathroom to try and get away from it all for a second. I walk into the stall and the guy in the stall next to me goes “hey you’re the guy that lost that hand, aren’t you?” Mother of Rob, I can’t get away from it.  It doesn’t even make sense. The guy was in the stall, he didn’t even see me. How did he know it was me?

Some things in life are so improbable they can’t be rationalized. I often don’t know why things happen the way they do until a long time after the events occur. I recently wrote about how we can be too quick to judge something in our lives as either “good” or “bad,” and this trip has been one of those things. It was remarkably painful, but it remains to be seen whether it was good or bad. Either way, I think it’s what I needed. And no matter what, I must carry on.

Here’s some pictures of Joshua Tree National Park, some random trail overlooking LA, and Adam’s cats.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian from Northern California. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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