Between my love of shiny things, my knack with numbers, my comfortable relationship with the whims of fate, and the way people often underestimate me– I’m pretty sure my parents were worried I was going to turn into a professional gambler.
I was a shark in the making.
Every year for Christmas, I’d ask for cards so I could be like my favorite super hero– Gambit, the card-throwing Cajun charmer. My favorite toy was my Aunt Helen’s mini slot machine that worked with pennies. I would dutifully ask for one of those, too.
Every year, I would get every present on my list, plus extras. Everything except my gamblin’ goodies, that is.
I guess their distraction-strategy worked, though, because I didn’t end up placing a bet or playing with a regular deck of cards till I was 22 years old. I didn’t get near a regular slot machine till I was 25 years old on my first trip to Las Vegas.
During a family dinner, right after a trip back from Vegas, I asked my dad why he didn’t ever buy me the slot machine or poker set. Unlike my mom, who was raised a Southern Baptist, my father never had a problem encouraging vice in moderation.
He told me I’ve always reminded him of a bouncy ball in motion. A neon orange zig of energy in an otherwise white, square world. There were things that were okay for other people, that would never be okay for me because they would stop my energy, distract it, or change the shape of me– the shape that let me move with such force.
It was such a vivid picture that I stayed away from most recognized vices, not wanting to be a deformed rubber ball, hobbling along towards nothingness.
In December of 2010, right around Christmas, my life changed. The upside of all those dirty hotel rooms, hungry nights, and poverty was a new-found appreciation for playing cards. They’re the most transportable, cheapest form of entertainment in existence.
I still didn’t gamble, at least not for more than a handful of sugar-free sticks of gum. Even with my life on the rocks, I wanted to hold on to who I was since the beginning of my life.
I did start to see the beauty of cards and the new symbols that previously had meant nothing to me– like the spade. The symbol has grown on me, and I’ve grown into it, and if I had to have a sculptor make me a statue to represent my 2012… it would be a sculpture of a spade.
“A sword, a spade, and a thought should never be allowed to rust. “
- James Stephens
It’s odd for me to find such an affinity with a symbol that meant nothing to me for most of my life, but it does. It’s become Dave’s logo for his artistic identity, too.
“If we plant a flower or a shrub and water it daily it will grow so tall that in time we shall need a spade and a hoe to uproot it. It is just so, I think, when we commit a fault, however small, each day, and do not cure ourselves of it.”
- St. Teresa of Avila
I like to think that childhood-me loved Gambit’s playing cards so much because I recognized a piece of my identity in them– a glimpse into my future– but who knows. More than likely, it was just about the outfit. You can’t go wrong with a coat like that.
Two Daily Post challenges that were strangely correlated to me:
Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant? http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/daily-prompt-statue/
Was there a special gift or toy you wanted as a child but never received? What was it? http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/daily-prompt-gimme/