The Greatest Gamble

I’m not a gambler.

Taking risk at any time for any reason petrifies me. Why bet on something uncertain when you can invest in something that will definitely grow? I don’t even like playing Texas Hold ’em for fun. It freaks me out. Putting my chips down, watching people go all in, even winning hands scares me.

It all freaks me out. Gives me anxiety.

And the biggest risk of all?

Isn’t that obvious? Have we not talked about it enough? Aren’t we all in agreement already?

Jeez.

Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. These days, I hardly ever do.

Reason. Logic. Strategy.

They all go out the window.

I used to think I was clever, you know? Kind to everyone, minding my own business, friendly but reserved. It was smart. Kept me from hurting others and simultaneously kept me from getting hurt. It was perfect. Utterly clever. That’s what I thought. And it wasn’t disingenuous either. I truly liked people, I just didn’t like to bet. Back then, I wasn’t sure why, but now I know.

Losing out on something you looked sure on was embarrassing. Having to not only admit you were wrong, but pay tenfold for it? I couldn’t imagine anything more mortifying. Especially for me, the Clever Queen. Foxes took lessons from me in how to cultivate cunning ability. Ingenuity. Competence. For me, to think about ever showing people that I was something other than those things was horrifying.

Looks like I’ve gotten over that.

At least, over it enough.

I don’t know when exactly it was that it changed. I’d known you for a while. Probably a little over a year. And it wasn’t like we didn’t speak often. We did. Normal, friendly conversations almost every other day.

One day it shifted.

I felt it. Like a switch flipping, lighting a bulb up in my brain.

You were clever. It hit me so hard it knocked the breath out of me. One minute, you were an average guy. Just another poker table I wouldn’t dare sit down at. Then I saw that spark in you.

That playfulness. That mischievousness. That cunning smile.

It was a reality shift for me. The colliding of dimensions. Electrons firing in a completely different way in my head.

Man were you attractive. And I wasn’t sure why at the time. Before that moment, I had thought you were an ordinary looking guy. Nothing more.

And then that cleverness peeked through.

I saw you for what you were.

A fox.

A ridiculously clever, handsomely toned, fox.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what that makes me. There are tons of tales out there about foxes tricking other animals, including other foxes. There were too many for me to choose from, but, in that moment, I knew:

I had to be wary of you.

You weren’t just a friend anymore. You were a threat. A time bomb on the verge of exploding. Actually, that’s too harsh of an example for you. You’re more like a game of hot potato or musical chairs. I knew that, eventually, the music would stop, and if I didn’t time myself right, I would be the loser.

Fat lot of good knowing did me.

In the end, I still lost.

Stupid of me, to even continue playing the game, you know? But I couldn’t draw myself away. If I did that, I’d lose for sure. And I’d skip out on all the fun.

And if there’s one thing you do well, it’s fun.

You take me to places I’d never think about going. To the beach at night. To a meadow to watch the stars. To the lake to listen to gators croak like frogs in the night. You show me strange things, things that aren’t romantic–because, what I want isn’t really romantic experiences, it’s something more like fascinating experiences. Things I won’t ever forget because I knew nothing about them before you showed me. Like how a hundred gators look at night with light shining at them. Or how it feels to lay on a plaster roof in the winter so we can watch an eclipse. What kind of sound you make when you’re terrified. How it feels to save someone from a menacing spider. How a man looks when he’s fascinated by the girl in front of him.

How it feels to hold the hand of such a clever man.

Jeez. Thinking about it makes me blush.

And it’s been four years.

Four years, you’ve managed to keep me fascinated. Outfox me. Outwit my logic. Honestly, I’m not sure how you’ve managed to do it. It’s not like I’ve been all that willing of a participant.

Yet, you keep capturing me. Over and over again. Every time you manage to catch my eye, I can feel myself become less and less reluctant about it. Less and less anxious about betting on you. More calm about putting money down.

Maybe that’s why I don’t mind the three hour drive it takes to get to you. Really, it could be worse. You could live further away. Across country. Out of state. Three hours is nothing.

Not if it means I can still be outwitted by you.

Pulling up to the restaurant, I see you in the window. Sitting in a booth by yourself. Clearly waiting for someone. You keep checking your phone.

The sight makes me sigh.

Relief floods through me, for some reason. A weight I hadn’t known I was carrying gets lifted.

And I realize that I can’t believe it.

In the end, this bet hasn’t cost me a thing. Putting the money down temporarily keeps repaying me back tenfold.

Reluctantly, I’ll admit it.

Gambling isn’t so bad after all.


Author’s note: this was written last week. Probably on Thursday. Maybe on Tuesday. My brain doesn’t process time very well.

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