This is a historic day for the Blog. Today, the Church receives its first outsider contribution, and it's a damn good one. This is the first post by the one, the only: JFish. The King of Kansas City liquor stores and AIDS clinics tells his story about the night Osama was killed. I really hope this is just the FIRST of many posts coming from KC.
Osama Bin Ladin's death had zero affect on the average American's life. We aren't safer or in more danger. We haven't learned any lessons or been comforted with dopamine-laden revenge. It is an afterthought; a closure to the event that was 9/11, but just a minor Navy operation in post-9/11 America.
The only note highlighted in this "event" is that it broke the record for tweets per second at 3,440, for a two-hour period. But I never got to experience that social media phenomenon. I was too busy living in the real world. Too busy confining myself to a place where the outside world of rumors and hear-say could not reach me. Too busy living in a 20th century palace.
I was at a casino.
Half-drunk, holding a conversation with my cousin (a Navy retiree) and my dealer (ex-Navy) - the irony here drips - I suddenly got a text message. Being that you can't access your phone at a table, I waltzed to the bar for another drink and to check my messages.
What did I find out? Bin Laden had been killed. My attention was at attention.
I rushed back to my table to spread the word, but the pit boss (ex-Army) had already found his brother-in-arms, my dealer, and thus my table knew. I was ready to gloat. Ready to discuss.
Nobody else was.
Trying hard to engage my friends and my strangers, and to get our hovering television to change from ESPN to CNN, proved to be more difficult than I ever imagined. Nobody wanted to hear it. Simple head nods were the silent affirmations of "I heard". What was happening here?
Truth is, a casino is one place where the outside world does not exist, yet the technology does. Speed roulette lets you deal with a computer instead of a human. Cards get you perks, cash gets you a losing streak.
You can get on your Blackberry, just not at the table. Access porno, but only when shackled in your room. The 21st century is all around you, but 19th century rules command the kingdom.
And I was at a crossroads. I knew a huge event was blowing up on Twitter - where I have a voice - yet, my companions and surroundings were making it quite clear that it didn't matter here. Do I stay or do I go now? If I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double.
I should have heeded the advice of the Clash.
Because I stayed. I had fun, mind you. Was up and down and up and down. Kept my bankroll going until the rooster called. Got drunk. Had laughs. Went to sleep. All was well.
Then I woke up and checked Twitter. All hell had broken lose.
The site had blown up. I had messages and direct messages asking where the hell I was and why I wasn't a part in the online slumber party on Sunday night. People were disappointed in my lack of participation. I felt uneasy tweeting for a week. I wasn't there. I couldn't respond. I wasn't a member in the Bin Laden round-table discussion, and since that was the talking point for the remaining week's days, I couldn't be part of the Twitter discussion as a whole.
So here I was, unable to enjoy a night that consisted of my favorite aspects of life; gambling, drinking and solid company. The only thing I could focus on was me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was always there to cram my little nook of the internet with my quips in times of need, times of trouble. Mother Twitter was there for me and I for her. But I missed out on the party this time.
I learned a lesson after that, an accomplishment most of us never achieved with this death. I learned that the sins of old - gambling, drinking, smoking, etc. - are no longer sins. Neglecting the global brain was my sin that night. Not being a part of the online community, which I had previously and proudly been a card-carrying member of, was my version of collecting 30 pieces of silver. I was Judas to others' perception of my own Jesus.
It's what is important, for better or for worse, in today's connected society. Be tuned in, or be tuned out, but never waiver the line. Or you'll be missed and you'll be cursed. This is the same society that fell in love with Texas Hold 'Em; either go all-in or get the fuck out of the way. No room for leaners.
I just need to figure out which way I lean. Being in a house of sin was like being walled in a house of God. Life was moving around me, but I was holding on to the archaic hymns of blackjack.
No wonder they allow smoking.
Follow JFish on Twitter at @JFishSOTW, and listen to the Soundtrack of the Week