To quote some famous Presidents:
Let me be perfectly clear: There was no collusion, there was no collusion with that Russian.
Recently my company sponsored a “Casino Night” for a large gathering of our clients. At the end of the evening, people turned in their chips for raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes. Employees were permitted to gamble, but weren’t allowed to win any prizes. We were encouraged to give away any chips we had left to the other players.
I’m not a gambler. I have never lost a nickel in a real casino. But I do enjoy playing poker, even though I had not played in over five years. So if there was an open seat at the poker table, I would play. If not, I would circulate and interact with our customers, as we were encouraged to do. I let the festivities begin and then casually walked around the “casino”. The one poker table was full with the action already started. But on the back wall, the second poker table was empty, except for the bored dealer, an attractive woman in her early-40’s, sitting all alone. I felt sorry for her, and there were all these open chairs, so I grabbed my friend Jeff and sat down at the table hoping more people would join us.
The dealer’s name tag read “Amy”, but I assure you that wasn’t her real name. “Amy” had a strong Russian accent. The type of accent that conveyed she could have been dealing cards in Vladivostok last week. Maybe her name was too long for a name tag, or perhaps it was too difficult to spell, but I can imagine someone saying “Amy quit last week, so just use her tag.”
Amy, no, let’s call her Natasha, was amused when I told her I couldn’t play aggressively because it would be impolite for me to take all my clients’ chips. We exchanged some playful banter and soon several more players arrived, including my colleague James, seated directly on my right, and play began. After a few hands, James, leans over to me and says, “Don, I think the dealer is really in to you. She keeps looking at you and joking with you!” I attempt to disagree, but James is adamant. “No Don, she’s not looking at me like that and she hasn’t said one word to me. She likes you.”
This was no surprise to me. Okay, unlike other people, I will admit that I have colluded with a Russian for a long time. For many years, I have done some very intense colluding, which has even resulted in two offspring. In addition, over the years I have become good friends (but no “collusion”) with several women of Russian descent. I am so glad I didn’t work in the Trump campaign, or Robert Mueller would now be probing me in some very sensitive areas.
So I have to admit, for some strange, unknown, reason, Russian women find me attractive. Now if you believe that awful stereotype about Russian women being unattractive, may I remind you that I have been married to the most beautiful woman in the world for 38 years. If you still doubt, one name: AnnaKournikova. And I have never gone to one of her matches for fear I might mess up her game:
Announcer: That’s Kournikova’s fifth double-fault today. She keeps staring up to the same area in the stands. What could be distracting her?
And I believe it was Lenin and Stalin that wrote: “And the Moscow girls make me sing and shout. They leave the West behind.” Wait! I’m sorry, that may have been Lennon and McCartney.
I have never traveled to Moscow because of the fear of being mobbed by Russian women and then interrogated by the KGB. “Vaht is your secret! Tell us now!” Perhaps it would be more fun to be lusted after by Swedish babes, but if that were the case, I envision being on my fourth marriage or dead by now.
But back to poker game ….
If you think this story is going to be about how Natasha is a “dirty dealer”, discretely slipping me great cards, you would be wrong, so wrong. My cards that night were horrible. I know all poker players complain about their cards, but my cards were consistently anemic. In the first hour, my best starting pair was K-7 unsuited, which I eventually folded. And I folded that night more times than a complex origami.
Amy of course noticed I wasn’t playing any hands and started to kid me about folding so much. At one point, she looked at my folded cards and chided me in front of everyone for not playing them. The other players around thought it was hilarious that Natasha was implying I was a terrible poker player. But really she was playfully teasing me, I had folded 8-9 unsuited, not a good hand at a large table.
But James could not let her comments go without a response. He leans over as says to me in a remarkably good fake Russian accent:
“You play like a tiny, weak man. You have no balls. You run away like a scared little girl.”
The very next deal, I fold 4-7 unsuited. Natasha mumbles a “hmmp”, with a look of derision. And James continues his onslaught:
“You are a horribly bad player. You are so awful that if you were in Russia, you would be sent to a camp in Siberia. But for you, it would be a women’s camp. Because you would be no threat to them, because YOU HAVE NO BALLS!”
A couple folded hands later, Natasha remarks somewhat sarcastically “I hope I deal you some better cards sometime.”
To which I immediately reply, “Oh I expect that you will make me happy before the end of the night.” This is said in jest, with a funny smirk, trying to elicit a reaction.
After he stopped laughing, James whispers to me, “Don, she didn’t even flinch and she’s not blushing.” “Russian women don’t blush easily”, I reply “but now she can’t look at me, so it did hit the mark.
And she did make me happy that night --- by finally dealing me a couple good hands near the end, enabling me to acquire an impressive stack of chips. Of course, just at that moment, a coworker appears out of nowhere and says:
“Gee Don, you have a bunch of the customers chips! Have you been sitting here all night?”
Me: “Uh, I uh, K-7 unsuited, bad cards …. blah, blah, blah.”
But I was able to distribute lots of chips to all our clients at the table. So, everyone was happy at the end of the night.
But there was no collusion. No collusion with the Russian. No collusion whatsoever.
Lord, I was born a Yankee man
Trying for détente
And doing the best I can
And when it’s time for glasnost
I hope you’ll understand
That I was born a Yankee man
(much apologies to the Allman Brothers)