Men who buy hookers, by and large, aren't spending their money for the 15 minutes of paint-by-number sex and five seconds of afterglow they get for their money. They spend their cash for The Process--the search, the choosing, the negotiation, and the eventual purchase. It's not the getting off that gets them off.
It's The Process.
I wish I could remember where I heard that. As a happily married and duly-satsified guy, I spend my money on other vices, like food, booze, and travel. Still, whether it was a working girl at the Hooker Bar in Vegas or something I saw while watching Hookers at the Point on HBO, I once heard a prostitute drop that bit of philosphy. It made sense to me, not because I'm a John, but because just about anything that gets us off has a Process.
Poker ain't much different.
My favorite part of a poker game is not flopping a set against an overpair or having my 15-outer get there. It's the ten minutes I spend before I walk out the door of my house. I walk around the house and collect the money I'm going to take for the night. I walk into my bedroom, count out the bills, wrap them up, and pocket them. I get dressed. If they are clean--or marginally so--I wear one of four pairs of boxer shorts, a particular pair of jeans, and one of about four different shirts. I walk back downstairs to find my cell phone and iPod. The cell goes in one pocket and the iPod slides onto another. I kiss the wife and kid, walk out through the garage, get in Emilio the SDV, and start the drive.
Usually, that ten minutes is all I can control about the night. I can choose what I'm wearing, how much money I take, how I exit the house, and how fast I drive. It's methodical and it rarely changes. When it does change, it throws my night off. If the wife is cranky, the kid says soemthing sappy, or my iPod isn't charged, I'm set off balance. If I have to wear a shirt I don't like or a pair of uncomfortable jeans, I don't enjoy it as much. However, if everything goes right, I'm at peace...for at least ten minutes.
Because, after that, we as poker players start to lose control. Once I walk into the room and buy-in for my standard amount, external forces come into play. Is Wyoming going to turn his hat around and offer a fight? Will the cold decks hit? Will a former cop sit down at the table and make me wonder whether I'm about to see a raid in person?
I'm not going to stretch the metaphor too far, but I have to imagine it's the same for a John who gets off on The Process. Once he hands over his money, he has lost all control with his girl. It is, for all intents and purposes, over. The excitement is in getting there, you know?
I'm not a superstitious guy. Sometimes I am rational to a fault. Still, there is something about The Process that changes me. These are things that I usually don't admit in conversation. I take care to pass myself of as a reasonable person. So, admitting the following is a bit of a look inside the Irrational Otis.
I refuse to take $50 bills at the bank or when cashing out of a game. If I somehow end up with $50s, I leave them at home when going through The Process.
A couple of years ago, I picked up a online poker site's money band and used it to wrap my cash. When I started losing, I gave the band away and went back to the drug store rubber band stash I have in my junk drawer.
I have owned no fewer than a half dozen card cappers. I've either given them all away or put them in a drawer following a losing session. I now use a chip and nothing else.
I noticed that my favorite pair of jeans was developing a hole in the knee. One more wash, I figured, would render them unwearable. So, last night, I grabbed the family and headed to a discount store to buy iron-on patches. My wife was incredulous. This afternoon, I turned the jeans inside out and essentially glued the knee back into place. The jeans are now in the washer and look like they are going to come out whole. I will wear them tonight when I walk out the door. It's just a little bit of comfort when nothing else seems to work.
Some things, though, don't work out as well. For instance, my Bongo-Playing Monkey boxers finally got so tattered nothing could save them. I actually wore them twice when they had a hole in the ass big enough to fit a grapefruit. I had to throw them away when the wife finally got disgusted. I was almost afraid to play poker the next day.
I booked a Vegas flight today and was offered the option of choosing my seats on the plane. I always sit as close to the front as I can. The seat nearest the front of the plane was 13A.
I chose seat 17G instead.
Recognizing The Process, I think, is a two-fold boon for one's game. It allows you to figure out what makes you comfortable. It also allows you to identify the silly notions that creep into your head.
More important than anything, though, is a personal study of whether you're more into The Process than the game. Sometimes I think I am. If I ever decide that I couldn't play the game without The Process, I will quit.
Because that will be the day I'm just another of Madame Poker's tricks.