My dear spouse is the incoming president of the Cameron Rotary Club. Thus, it was sort of his duty to attend their big yearly fund-raiser, a casino night. We never went before due to a strong dislike of crowds and an equally strong dis-interest in gambling. Heck, we never gambled when we had to go to those real estate things in Las Vegas!
But, we had already bought a bunch of tickets to contribute to Rotary. And we were also a corporate sponsor, as we try to get this business going. So, we psyched ourselves up, buoyed by a surprise visit from nephew Chris (Kathleen’s birthday is next week, and this was a GOOD present). We brought along our assistant, Meghan, too.
The idea was to chat people up and let them get to know who our team is. It became obvious really quickly that the bland snacks were not going to entertain us all evening. I told myself that I might as well do something to pass the time, so we three women took all our pretend money and got coins for the slot machines. A kind woman told me how slot machines work (really, I don’t gamble).
We ended up having a lot of fun, especially when we were joined by our fellow business owners, Courtney and Jeremy. We lasted way longer than we thought we would, because we kept winning, dang it. It also helped that Chris kept sneaking more coins in our buckets. He is a good supporter of charitable organizations, I guess.
I finally could not take any more dinging and scooping up of germy coins, so I bravely made my way to the nearest gambling table. The dealer had pink hair, so I hoped she might be fun. She was.
I liked this thing, I think it was 21, (no, it was Blackjack) a lot more, because I had to think a bit, and that drowned out some of the hubbub around me. And I got to meet a few new people and have fun conversations. The dealer was funny as heck (the rental casino company hires really good folks to introduce newbies and entertain people who like to gamble as well).
I ended up making it through the whole night, having nice conversations with old friends, too, and even playing 3-card poker, which consisted of me standing there and smiling a lot, but I was with my friends. And everyone was friendly and light-hearted all night.
I think all of us ended up having a good time, except for Lee, who didn’t like the concrete floor, was just drinking water, and didn’t try any of the games. The noise and people were too much for him.
Why Was I Okay?
This morning, I woke up all cheerful and fine, even though I had enjoyed some of the interesting donated wines. Hmm, I had a good time. Why so?
It occurred to me that the gambling wasn’t fun or not fun, but interacting with the smaller groups of people WAS fun. By concentrating on what I was doing, I was able to close out the noise, people, and such. I felt like I was with a few friends doing something mildly amusing, but not distracting from the conversation.
I created a little cocoon for an introvert! No wonder I was able to have fun! (I think it helped that I now know a lot of the people in Cameron, so it wasn’t a room full of total strangers.)
My advice to my non-gambling introvert friends is to not skip out on casino nights and game nights. The need to concentrate, even a little, on a task, can help you get through a crowd. And the task gives you something to talk to people you don’t know about. I didn’t know the woman who kept getting 21, but we had a really fun time picking on her and her winning ways. Successful mingling achieved!
I realize now that’s why I do fine at conferences. The conference topic means you’ll have something in common with everyone there, which gives you something to talk about. Plus they always have rooms you can escape to, ya know. That’s why we have a room for Friends of LLL at Texas La Leche League conferences. We can all hide and talk to a few people at a time there.
I’m going to keep this “find a thing to do that helps conversations” trick in my repertoire for future events and conferences we are going to have to attend as local business owners. I may learn to have fun in crowds. I’m probably never going to gamble with money, though.