The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Lady Luck... C'est Moi

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I arrived back at my apartment in Berck without incident. Muriel picked me up from the station and even dropped by her house to give me some food, since I obviously wouldn't have any at my place and the shops were closed on Sundays. The first thing I wanted, though, was one of those cheeseburgers. There was a place on the Esplanade, about 30 meters from my door, called The Spot. One of my students worked there as a cook on the weekends and such, and he made the most excellent cheeseburgers. Now, I'm not always a huge fan of red meat. I usually avoid it. Still, once in a while I crave a cheeseburger, and I'm really picky about it. I don't like all cheeseburgers, it takes a very special sandwich to turn my head.

While Daniel was staying with me, I went on a walk one night while he did internet stuff and generally refused to leave the couch (though he would have to later... I left without my keys and he ended up having to go downstairs to let me in). He had eaten something in the apartment, but at that point I was so sick of my own cooking (rather, what I was able to cook on my tight budget) that I couldn't really stand to eat any more tomato soup or pasta. Consequently, I was horrendously hungry that night. I had never tried any of the burger places on the Esplanade, so after walking the whole length of it a few times I finally settled on the closest one.

It. Was. Amazing. I ate that enormous cheeseburger faster than I'd ever eaten anything in my life, I think. I just inhaled it. What made it so good? Why, I'm glad you asked. I think the thing that really *made* the burger was the sauce. In France a lot of places put an orange sauce on the burgers that they just call "sauce hamburger." Perhaps it is an approximation of McDo's special sauce; I wouldn't know. All I know is that it's orange and it's fabulous. Besides the amazing sauce, this burger had *actual* romaine lettuce, pickles, a generous slice of cheese and most importantly, sautéed onions. It was just incredible. Daniel went to Paris the next day and I think I had one of those burgers every single day until I went to Paris too, about 4 days later.

So where was I? Ah yes, I'd just returned from Barcelona and I was hungry for a cheeseburger. I was afraid they'd be closing, and I got there just under the wire. I got my mountain of deliciousness and my peach iced tea, and I was happy.

The following weekend, Adil and I went to Le Touquet, the rich-people's party town just a few kilometers up the coast. We walked around for a while searching for a decent place to hang out, but the bars were either completely empty or too overcrowded. We passed the casino and I suggested we go in. After my disappointment with the slots in Monaco, I was hoping for some old-fashioned pull-the-lever machines. This time I struck gold. They had tons of 20 centime (20¢) machines, and they accepted real coins. I got 5 euros in 20 centime pieces in a plastic cup and I was off. I played on that 5 euros for more than an hour, I think, while Adil looked longingly at the poker tables. He played texas hold 'em quite often online and knew a lot about the game. I could tell he wanted to play, but it was a minimum of 50 euros to get in the game.

The siren song of possibility finally got the best of him and he joined a table. I watched for a while, then went back to my slots. When I lost it all, I came back to see Adil doing well. He gave me another 3 euros so I could get back in the game, and within a few minutes I had won back the 10 I'd lost. I decided to cash in when I broke even, and went back to watch Adil play. It wasn't long before things got intense. Another guy at the table kept raising against Adil after everyone else had folded. I knew that Adil must have something good, because he never bet unless it was a decent hand. Finally, the other player went all in. This was it for Adil; if he backed down he'd lose enough chips that it would be almost impossible to stay in the game for long, but if he went all in and lost, well.... you get the picture. Adil looked at me. I looked back at him through my fingers. Something told me the other player was bluffing. Maybe it was the way he seemed to try so hard to stare Adil down, or maybe he just didn't look very credible... I don't know. The other spectators were throwing in their two cents. "Il a rien!" several cried (he has nothing!). My instinct told me he should go all in, but I didn't want to be responsible if I was wrong, so I left it to him. He went all in. They showed the cards. Adil's opponent had nothing. Everyone clapped and Adil happily raked in his winnings. The man standing next to me, who'd heard me speaking to Adil in English, said "C'est l'Américaine qui apporte la chance!" (It's the American who brings luck!).

Adil played a few more hands, mostly just because it's rude to get up after you've just won a big pot. The table decided by consensus to play a last hand. The pot wasn't huge and he won when everyone else folded, but he had to show us his cards anyway... it was a full house.

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