Putting the game to bed

I read an interesting article in Dose last last Wednesday(May 17th), so here it is.

I'm a player. I come from player genes. Perhaps you know a few of us. Our penchant for procuring women is legendary. Well, in our own minds anyway. For as long as I can remember, I have walked with a certain swagger of knowing that deep down, whether I had a girlfriend or not, whether we lived together or not, I had this touch I couldn't explain.

When I look back now, I realize it couldn't have been any other way. You see, my pops is a player. I swear, when I look around at some of my friends still in the game (that's player-speak for the lifestyle of being a player), I laugh to myself and think that they have nothing on my father. At 60, my dad has this charm that attracts women in a manner that would startle most of my friends half his age.

Now there must be one caveat here. When we speak of the player, we speak not of the aggressive predator or insensitive lout. No sir, the true player is one of worldly intelligence, wit, style and an unspoken assuredness of character. We would never dominate conversations with talk about our job, our physique or our car none of that registers for a player who has mastered the game. A true player is much too confident for that kind of idle chatter. We know that women, well most of them anyway, prefer it that way. The archetypal player is equal parts Frank Sinatra, Burt Reynolds and Jay-Z. He is debonair but streetwise, silent but commanding, funny but never foolish and just protective enough. It all came together for me one night about 15 years ago. I was having a glass of wine with my pops and explaining to him a problem that I was having with several women I was seeing. He put down his glass, leaned forward and stared at me intently across the table. It's the curse, he said. You have the curse. I sat back chuckling. What are you talking about, Dad? He smiled back at me with a kind of all-knowing, half-cracked smirk that suggested a confidence in what he was talking about. It's the curse. I have it, you have it and your son will probably have it, too. Women, they love us. There's nothing you can do about it. His answer to my problem was simple: it didn't matter what I did. The curse, it seemed, was a birthright. For a long time after that conversation, I went around thinking this curse was a blessing. Certainly, I had seen first-hand evidence of it. After all, my dad ran his game in front of me for years. The scene was typical. We would meet on a hot summer day for a walk in the Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood. My dad would have his usual uniform on: sunglasses, flip-flops, shorts and his shirt off, hanging from his back pocket. I was kind of embarrassed by the outfit at first but he walked with such confidence I figured he knew what he was doing. After awhile, I thought it was kind of cool. I was this punk rock badass so we went well together. Sure enough, for the next hour on the beach, we came across women walking or sunbathing who would call out his name. We would walk over for a visit, a little conversation and a kiss. He was always quite proud to introduce me to them. It was as though he was declaring that I would be the heir to his player throne. Then again, he may have had other designs; doing it seemed to endear him to them even more. Women just adored my father. Being a player, I learned then, was also about projecting a presence.

It was the same thing in bars. We were having a drink once when my dad left for the bathroom. When he returned not seven minutes later, he was grinning and rolling his eyes. He threw a card down on the table in front of me. See, all I did was walk by a woman on the patio and she handed me her card. It's the curse. It was magical to watch and a lot of fun. When I was younger, I occasionally wished that my dad was more normal, although I never knew what that meant. From watching television and movies, I assumed he should be in the driveway fixing his car, cutting the grass or planning a father-and-son camping weekend. As I got older, I realized that it wasn't for me. Looking back to weekends riding on the back of his motorcycle, I can see that he is both perfect and flawed all at once. He would be the first one to admit it. No way, my dad is cool just being the hustler he is. The suburban father figure, that's a mirage for somebody else. In recent years, being a player has become a lot of work for my pops. A long time ago, he tried passing the torch to me. While I definitely got my hustle on and showed signs that the curse was in me, too, in many ways I was like the understudy who never really graduated.

I'm getting married this summer. I couldn't be happier about it, too. My dad will be there looking as dapper as ever. But as is often the case these days, he will be alone. That's what happens to a lot of players as they get old. They spend so much of their life wagering there will be someone better out there. My dad says he likes it that way. He's had his fun. Women and the game they're too much work when you're 60, he tells me. That might be true, but pops better leave the curse at home just the same.

By the way, the lesson here is not to go around Toronto topless with your shirt in your backpocket. So if that is what you picked up, please read again.

Also what I didn't realize is that on that Wednesday, Dose went out of publication print, and I thought it was here to stay.


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