Why the Bluff Not?

“You know who it is, don’t you?” a customer asked regarding the dragonflies that I’d admitted visit me regularly. I told her I thought it was my grandpa Hoyt, but really I hadn’t thought about it the way she was – as a soul that has already passed on who has come back to see me. My gut told me that my first dragonfly experience was a sign that my living, breathing Prince, whoever he is, was thinking of me and I’d stuck with the idea because it brought me comfort. A few days later, after summarizing the mess I’ve made of my love life for a friend, a (somwhat) off the wall question got me thinking about how often I bluff in real life: “But where does Dave Grohl stand in all this?” Ever since I had told this particular friend about the day I’d “met” Dave Grohl while playing poker through the WSOP app, he’d teased me by pretending Dave Grohl is my boyfriend. This time it got me thinking that there’s nothing quite like a great bluff, even if you’re bluffing yourself.

He said he was the real Dave Grohl when one of the other players asked and I said, “Hi Dave!” as if I believed him… because the person who asked seemed to believe he was playing poker with a rock legend and my gut reaction was that it would be fun to pretend I did too. Soon after, someone with a Black female avatar named Bubba joined the room and began begging for “[my] milk” and the rest of us stopped chatting. He might have said hi and told me I was cute first but I can’t really remember. The shock of the line he chose to repeat over and over, hand after hand, kept me quiet for quite some time. I rarely say anything in chat screens and didn’t want to encourage his sleazy behavior in any way. Eventually, Bubba typed, “I want your milk Rachel. Give me your milk,” so many times that Dave Grohl broke the silence.

“I’ll give you some milk!” he said just before I broke down and typed something about being sure as fuck I wasn’t giving him any milk, praying our one-two punch would do the trick. Unfortunately, Bubba was like a broken record that wouldn’t stop. He (eventually) held his tongue long enough for Dave to tell me I’ve ‘got snap’ and clumsily ask me to get a drink sometime.

I had no intention of going out with some stranger who pretends to be Dave Grohl online (nor did I desire to date the real Dave because he’s married), so I told him, “If you’re the real Dave Grohl… sure.” The fan who’d inquired if he was the real Dave promptly called me a gold digger, then didn’t respond when I asked if he’d go out with an imposter.

Dave said, “He’s my hero,” (admitting he isn’t the real Dave?) while I defended my actions to his crazed fan. He then tried to get me to join snapchat so we could talk privately. I offered my email or other social media accounts instead but he said he’d just find me in the WSOP app… and perhaps come visit me at one of the restaurants I work for the next time he’s in town. After that we stopped chatting and started buying each other gifts through the app – using our chips to send a virtual rose, drink, or kiss to sit beside the other’s avatar… and Bubba resumed his, “I want your milk,” rant. I smiled as Dave told Bubba to leave his girl alone… and laughed until I cried when they began competing to be the one who’s gift appeared beside my avatar. (Each player can only have one gift showing at a time. So, every time Bubba sent a rose, Dave covered it up with a kiss immediately… no less than a dozen times in a row.)

I decided to quit poker for the day not long after causing those shenanigans, figuring there wasn’t anything that could’ve made that moment more fun. I told Dave I’d see him around… and I did see him online once or twice after that… but I never asked his real identity… nor did I admit I never thought he was the real Dave Grohl.

I asked the first dragonfly that stared me down two questions. It happened about three years ago. He was firey red and perched in a tree at eye level, less than two feet away from where I stood in the garden where I worked at the time. I asked my coworker if she’d ever seen a dragonfly perch like that before. She said no and suggested it could be someone important. “Are you someone important?” I asked. It nodded… twice. “Are you a Prince?” I asked. It nodded twice again. If there hadn’t been a witness present to tell me that she’d also seen that dragonfly nod, I might not have believed what I saw with my own two eyes.

I caught that dragonfly staring at me many, many other times after that day and, since leaving that job, I see dragonflies (mostly fiery red ones) 100x more often than I ever did before. They fly near my windshield when I’m at stop signs, swoop down over my shoulder when I’m out on the street, and circle or hover around me on occasion. One time, when returning to a thrift store to purchase a dragonfly lampshade I’d seen there a few days prior, I looked up to find there was a giant swarm of dragonflies in the tree above me. I can’t help but think that they all mean something.

Because the first one ‘told’ me he was a Prince, I’ve taken the dragonfly appearances as signs that my Prince is watching, but when the stranger asked if I knew who my dragonfly is, I realized I was probably bluffing myself… just like I pretended I believed that Dave Grohl was the real Dave Grohl, just for fun. I hadn’t spent much time pondering what I should think or do in either case. I trusted my gut. That’s what I do. It’s my way. I simply hadn’t pondered until recently how many bluffs I had performed in life.

The very day I began to wonder if I bluff too often, especially in regards to romance, a friend told me they’d spent the prior evening pondering the meaning of the phrase “clouds in my coffee” from the song You’re So Vain by Carlie Simon. He reminded me that the song is about someone who is infatuated with a self-absorbed seducer and said he believed the clouds were her fantasies of what the relationship could be and the coffee was her awareness of what it actually was. I couldn’t help but note a striking similarity between the song and my life (save one or two details) and, after I summarized my personal romance dilemma for him, we had a good laugh about the fact that, according to his metaphor, I’ve had too much coffee… because he’s one who knows precisely how much I actually enjoy drinking java – morning, noon, and night. It reminded me that I was always aware when I was bluffing to some extent. So, deep down, I must’ve believed there was a method to my madness.

Maybe I got myself into my current situation by believing in fantasies – dreams with a low probability of becoming true. Yet, perhaps my life right now isn’t so different from all the times at the felt when I’ve momentarily wondered if my gut was wrong just before the card(s) fell that would prove my instincts spot on. Maybe I have been bluffing too much. Then again, perhaps the hand(s) that are bothering me haven’t finished playing out. It could be there are more cards to come or… perhaps I just need to turn mine over. Maybe it only looks like I’m not winning because I haven’t yet revealed my hand. Maybe it simply wasn’t yet the opportune moment.

Once upon a time, I told myself I might not find my Prince until I became a writer and artist – made my life what I wanted it to be. I’ve come a long way, but there’s one big piece of the puzzle that has been on hold for years because no further inspiration had come: my novel. Six years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I completed the 50,000 word goal on the 30th day and called it a first draft though I wasn’t very happy with the content. In 2015, I tried again on a very different draft – one which took place in a fantasy world – and put down over 20,000 words trying to bring the idea to life. A few weeks ago, on October 15, 2019, I started over a third time as I found exciting scenes popping into my head which mimic my reality while taking me to places I’ve never been.

As I began writing and making plans to participate in NaNoWriMo again this November, I couldn’t help but wonder if all the bluffs I’ve performed thus far were my way of practicing for my main event: my novel. The first draft was too close to reality to be intriguing. The second was so far fetched I didn’t know where the story should go. This time, I am using bits of my real life to create a story I wish I could live. I figure since bluffing has brought me happiness thus far, I might as well see where it can take me. Why the bluff not?

NaNoWriMo Project Title: You Betcha

Novel Summary: Five Horsemen and two Madames make one big bet against the Billionaire Boys Club to prove that what you do with your money is far more valuable than the money itself.

Words Written: 1,500 (plus notes)

Words to Go: 50,000 (or more)

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