There comes a time in the life of every single human being when we find ourselves experiencing a moment of American Psycho(ish), that small space of time where our minds engage in verbal and physical behavior that is completely different from what our body and common sense will allow. For example:
A woman takes a seat at one of my Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em tables, heaving her large, pink Gucci knock-off onto the table top and rummages roughly through it looking for her wallet, a long-ashed cigarette dripping menacingly from her slasher-film lips.
“Can I get an ashtray!” The demand is directed at me, the ever patient Floor Supervisor, evidently waiting anxiously beside the table to carry out her every whim. I point calmly to the no-smoking sign clearly visible on the other side of the table and let her know that she will have to put her cigarette out. “Fine!” A cloud of smoke rolls at me. “Can I get an ashtray?” A pair of dark, heavily lined eyes try to pierce my heart. “Unless you want me to just stub it out on the table?” I take half a step toward my podium and snag a grubby black ashtray off the top. My head swivels back toward the lady and discovers that in the time that it took me to execute this two second grab she has buried the table beneath a cloud of smoke that appears to be sandpapering the lungs of the other three people sitting there. All three of them look at me like I have betrayed them.
“Ma’am, you need to stop that.” I push the ashtray across the table to her. Scooping it up the woman lowers it to her lap and turns slightly away from the table and sucks heavily on the cigarette two more times, adding more smoke to the mushroom cloud. “Ma’am, if you want to finish it you’ll have to leave the table. I can hold your seat for you if you like.” I offer this solution in as friendly a voice as I can while still keeping a verbal grip on my authority.
“It’s fine!” she snaps, taking another pull at her cigarette. “I’m almost done.” The cloud is descending on the felt and one of the players snatches up her chips and storms off.
“Enough!” I say and lean into the table at the woman. “Put it out right now or get up. I’m not asking you again.”
“Christ! You don’t have to be such a bitch! I said was done.” Two more fast, smoky drags and she shoves the cigarette into the ashtray in a limp poke that doesn’t even begin to extinguish it. “Here!” The smoking black bowl comes flying across the table top at me, skidding like a round sled over gravel and crashes against the hard plastic paddle sitting innocently in its slot in the drop box. The collision throws the contents out of the ashtray onto the table top. I drop my head to the right in pure attitude and fix the woman with a blatant, accusatory stare.
The still burning cigarette butt is lying directly on the table felt. It will only take a few more seconds and there will be a new burn mark. This woman has had the majority of that butt between her lips but no one is going to lift that nasty thing from the table but me. A piece of tissue will not help this situation. Bracing myself for the feel of the plague rushing up my arm I reach out and pluck the offending brand from the table and drop it back into the ashtray. Another half-step toward my podium and I am free of the problem for a few moments. My left hand is already racing for my jacket pocket where I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer. The feel of the cool gel spreading across my hands gives my disturbed brain a ray of hope that my skin will not erupt in giant, oozing, white pustules before the night is finished. I take a calming breath and turn back to the table.
This brief interim in what is now clearly a battle has left an opening for the woman’s next move. While I was busy cleaning up her mess and taking the time to sanitize her butt from my fingers this lady was busily digging every wadded up bill from her purse that she could find. Ones, fives and … more ones, were piled in the center of the table in a mountain of crumpled, dead Presidents. The Dealer, bless her patient, abused soul, was slowly and methodically picking up each bill, one by one and straightening them against the edge of her tray before laying them gently on the felt in a growing stack. The other two players, after exchanging identical looks of exasperation rose together from their chairs in a beautifully synchronized ballet of disdain and rejection and vanished. Our villain, the gash-mouthed, anal-expulsive, cow sliding victoriously into first base says, “Since they left can we just make this a smoking table?”
This, boys and girls, is the point where my brain splinters itself into two separate entities. The first is the human being that needs a pay check and the regular job that provides it along with the insurance and retirement and blah, blah, blah. That particular entity is the stronger of the two, thankfully.
Entity number two, who shall henceforth be known as “Raving Maniacal Bitch Slayer From The Seventh Dimension” doesn’t need a job, or a life, or freedom or even fresh air. This entity can exist solely on the dying tears of her victims and their death gargles. She envisions stretching open her mouth into a gigantic four foot maw and emitting a pterodactyl-like shriek directly into this womans eyes, causing them to first quiver like the jelly they are, then melt down her cheeks in sobbing tracks of putrid, smoking, gelatinous, streaks of nicotine.
Entity number one takes another breath, pushes the Raving Maniacal Bitch Slayer From The Seventh Dimension back into her box and says, “Do you have a Players Card you would like to use?”