I can drive a stick shift and play chess, now I need to work on my poker face

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For some reason there are a few life skills I’ve always thought I should have in order to make me an all-purpose chick. I have no idea why this is, but it seems like these skills will make me well-rounded and less of a girlie-girl.

Side note: I hate the label girlie-girl as much as I hate the label mommy blogger. I should talk to my therapist about that.

Anyway, these are three things I’ve always thought I should learn:

    1. driving a stick shift,

    2. playing chess, and

    3. playing, and winning, poker — most specifically Texas Hold ‘Em.

Driving a stick — check

I learned to drive a stick soon after Mr. C and I were married. When we bought our first car together we decided to go with a stick so I could learn, once and for all, how to drive a manual transmission. Poor Mr. C spent a lot of time with me trying to avoid whiplash while I repeatedly stalled out in an empty college parking lot — find ‘em and grind ‘em, gingah.

I was so jacked when everything clicked and I learned how to find that smooth transition between the clutch and the gas. I also felt like a bad ass driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the stick.

Playing chess — checkmate

I think it was about two years ago when I asked Mr. C if he knew how to play chess. I don’t know why I was surprised when he said yes but I knew then that I found my tutor. Man, I don’t know much compared to Mr. C, do I? Anyway, he spent a fair amount of time teaching me how the knight moves, why the bishop is a sneaky little bastard and why the queen really is a diva.

I really enjoy trying to think ahead to anticipate the next three moves based on how I make my choice.

Playing poker — in progress

Finally! Something Mr. C does not know how to do. Now the reason why I’d like to learn how to play is so I can dominate the Texas Hold ‘Em games that are hosted by my kids’ school. Note the irony: My kids attend a Catholic school and the school holds regular poker games to raise money via friendly gambling. I’m positive God is behind that mission.

Anyway, if I could learn how to play really well I might be able to make some cash on the side. And I would return that cash right back to the school in the form of tuition. God knows, I really would do that.

So I’m going to have to learn the ropes, teach Mr. C and then hire a babysitter so Mr. C and I can dominate at the school games in order to provide a Catholic education for our kids.

I’d say the ends totally justify the means.

20 VIPs have spoken

  • Han says:

    I learnt to drive in a manual – If you learn in a manual you can drive either a manual or auto – if you learn to drive and pass your test in an automatic then that’s all you can drive (or at least that’s the rules here). I always play driving video games in Auto because I crash too much to concentrate on changing gear as well lol.

    I think I was about 8 or 9 when I learnt to play chess – I suck at it but I learnt.

    Poker I can play my brothers rules which I think are miles from the official rules lol.

    • cardiogirl says:

      That’s strange that you have to stick with automatic for the rest of eternity if you pass the driver’s test with just that. Can you go back later and re-test to learn the stick?

      I never said I was any good, I just like trying to anticipate moves. I usually lose.

  • Lisa says:

    Learning to play poker? Check! Learning to play poker to win? Not so much! Lost more than my shirt more than once…I need a tutor;D

  • Junebug says:

    My sister taught me how to drive and it was very funny. Good times.

    I have always wanted to learn chess but still have not clue. Some day maybe I will have a kid to teach me.

    So the church has moved from Bingo to Poker. Good to know. I still prefer Bingo. I am better at poker when I have no idea what I’m doing.

    • cardiogirl says:

      It’s more like the church has branched out to a new revenue source. Bingo is still goin’ strong. I find Bingo so stressful. I cannot stand waiting on that last number and then being startled when some old biddy screams, “BINGO!”

  • Erin says:

    Super-nerdy confession time: When I was in high school and college (and for a while after college) I drove a pickup truck, but it was an automatic, and the shifter thingy was on the steering column so I couldn’t even feel cool putting my hand on it and pretending it was a manual. So I used to fake-shift sometimes on the non-existent shifter when I wanted to feel badass. I just feel like automatic pickups aren’t as cool as manual ones, but I didn’t pick the car out.

    I’ve had two friends try to teach me to drive stick. Neither attempt went all that well. I mean, I could probably do it in a pinch, like if I had to get someone to the hospital and the only available car was manual (and for some reason there were no ambulances), but it wouldn’t be pretty.

    Chess I learned to play in elementary school as a side project when we read “Through the Looking Glass”, but I’m not very good. Poker I still suck at, and don’t particularly enjoy.

    • Elizabeth A. says:

      I don’t think anyone is “ready” to drive a stick in traffic for the first time.

      • cardiogirl says:

        @Erin I absolutely LOVE that you fake shifted in that truck. Awesome!

        @Liz The very first time I had to drive a stick — poorly, at that — was when I was 17 and my sister had crabs. Yes, that’s right. She had a stick and just she and I were home alone (she was 29.) From the bathroom she begged me to go to the drug store to buy my dad a new fine-tooth comb since she, uh, had to use his and to pick up some medication.

        At the time I didn’t really know what crabs were and it took me. For. Ev. Er. To drive three miles there and back in her car. Stalled out every ten feet or so and then freaked out at stop signs when another car approached from any direction.

        I’m sure it felt like an eternity to her by the time I got back with the stuff.

  • Elizabeth A. says:

    I’m with ya on being an all-purpose girl. (I hate being called chick. And babe. No problem with girly girl.) I’m very much, anything you can do, I can do better. While wearing stilettos.

    But by God, you better open my door for me even if I did re-grout the tub this morning.

    I can drive a stick. My mother thought it a good skill. And I did feel pretty bad ass when I was finally good enough to balance that gas and clutch on a steep hill. I just realized, learning how to drive a stick around here in the Midwest might have been easier and my mother would have needed less wine. That’s right, she took wine on my lessons.

    Chess. I learned when I was little because my uncle was super serious about it. Won awards and shit. It bored me.

    I too want to be good enough at Texas Hold ‘Em to play in public. Jeff says we should enter a tournament when we’re in Vegas. Why not? I know the basic rules, but for some reason the idea still makes me nervous. I can play every other game in the casino. Why am I letting this one stop me? You should rent Rounders. Great poker move.

    I also think women should know how to grill, sports basics, and drink beer. It’s why I learned how to throw a football.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Driving a stick is a good skill. I’m not sure how I’m going to teach my kids since we only have automatics, but I do think they should learn. Man that sounds like fun — you two being in a tournament in Vegas. Note that it sounds like fun from a distance.

      As in I would love to hear about how that went after you two do it and return so you can blog about it.

      • Elizabeth A. says:

        That can be arranged fairly easily. Make her first car be a stick.

        Or just rent one for a week if you don’t plan on letting her have a car. With the extra insurance.

        I’m bound to do it one of these years. We’re skipping our May trip (Gasp!) so maybe I’ll have the balls by December.

        • cardiogirl says:

          She’s going to have to buy her first car so I’ll let her know about that. I did consider the idea of renting a car; that’s probably the best option.

          Now more importantly, why are you skipping your May trip?

          • Elizabeth A. says:

            I assumed you were going to make her buy her car, you still have say in what it is. Whether or not you give her any help with it at all. Insurance, gas, etc.

            An all week car rental costs about $350 these days. So $500 five years from now. That’s a very good start towards a car. Ahh, the days of driving a POS and being proud of it.

            We spent a small fortune on vacations last year. We’re trying to cut back. We actually need to start saving to buy another car. Which we want to do in cash. So one vacation this year.

            • cardiogirl says:

              You know me too well, Liz.

              Isn’t it funny how when you’re driving a POS it sucks, but when you think back it’s sort of a warm memory? I had an Omni that had a really convoluted series of events that needed to happen to ensure that it would start.

              Otherwise the engine would flood.

              Way to go on saving to pay cash for a new car. I’m impressed.

  • Karen says:

    I learned to drive a manual when I was in high school. This was back in the stone age when they had driving classes, and showed those movies called ‘Blood on the Blacktop’ and stuff like that to 15 and 1/2 year olds in school.

    One day they were showing one of the movies and a friend and I told the teacher I needed to learn how to drive a manual (lies, all lies) to get out of watching the movie. So Anne and I took the school’s one and only manual transmission car out (they owned a couple of ‘K’ cars that were automatics, and a Pinto that was a manual) and careened around the teaching pavement laughing hysterically every time I ‘ground some hamburger’.

    Later in my life, my first car was a manual (they were (and still are) way cheaper), and I was driving around in Seattle in it. I got real good at the ‘three feet maneuver’. One foot on both the gas and brake, one on the clutch. Never drifted backward an inch.

    Chess…I’ve never been able to think any moves ahead, including the move I’m making, so I avoid it.

    Poker…my family played cutthroat poker on all holidays after dinner when I was a kid. It was only for pennies, but my uncles were completely serious about it, so I got pretty good. They had both learned in the military. I doubt it was Texas Hold ‘Em.

    • cardiogirl says:

      I swear that movie sounds so familiar — Blood on the Blacktop. I was in driver’s ed in ’84. Our school had K cars, too! There was a brake on the passenger’s side and Mr. Margitan (love that name) used it frequently when I was driving.

      Man I would NEVER agree to teach driver’s ed to high school students. No way.

      • Karen says:

        I know the school where I had driver’s ed (in ’81) doesn’t even offer it anymore. The kid has to either study the state’s book o’ rules on their own and get some poor sap to teach them to drive, then take the test, or, well, learn how to use public transportation really well. In a town without any, so far as I can remember. They probably do now.

        I think the company that made ‘K’ cars, and I don’t remember who that is even, probably couldn’t sell them, they were so very booooring, and gave them to every high school in the nation just to get rid of them. My driver’s ed teacher used to love slamming on that break too. I think I took 4 or 5 years off his life when he was teaching me to parallel park.

        • cardiogirl says:

          I wonder why they don’t teach it in high school anymore.

          I may be mistaken, but I thought it was Chrysler who manufactured that POS known as the K car. Hate. Parallel. Parking.

          I just did it last week, though, and it was stressful but I did it. I’d guess it’s been at least 30 years since I’ve tried that. I’ll walk eight blocks to avoid parallel parking.

  • mike says:

    I have the worst poker face for everything. You can always tell if I’m lying (not like I do) cause I can’t keep a straight face. Hence, I suck at poker.

  • Alex plays chess. I am far too stupid.

    I learned to drive in 1960 because my boyfriend had a Corvette and to “prove his love” I insisted that he let me drive it. After that I had a series of Corvette boys who enhanced my skills.

    I am a poker shark.

  • Katherine says:

    My stick shift days started with my “new used car” in college. A Datsun B-210, weird orange color hatchback. LOVED that car. I remember my mom trying to teach me and I started to cry. “I can’t even drive my own car!” MY problem was rolling backwards on an incline. But once I “got” it, I “got it” and ROCKED driving a stick. I think everyone should know how… I wish I had one so my kids could learn!

    • cardiogirl says:

      Man, back then every Pinto and Datsun was orange or yellow, wasn’t it? It was so liberating when I finally figured it out. I loved sitting at a red light balancing between the clutch and the gas so I didn’t have to use the brake.

  • nipsy says:

    Damn you. Just damn you. Okay, maybe not damn completely but you just reminded me of the one thing I cannot do and want to so badly. Learn stick shift. The Man has given me 2, yes 2 lessons and expects me to jump right in and take a road trip. Mind you these lessons were given in a 1986 Ford Dualie Diesel truck with a stick shift more tight than a virgins legs.

    I will learn this, I will.

    • cardiogirl says:

      I could never handle driving a truck that was a stick. No chance. But I have faith in you, Nips! You can do it — you can, you can!

      • Karen says:

        My current car is a truck, a Ford Fsomething or other that is a manual, because you can tow a lot more with a manual than with an automatic. I actually drove that truck with a travel trailer from Corpus Christi TX to Bremerton WA when our navy base got closed and we got transferred. (Hubby is civil service). We ended up putting all our cats in the trailer for the ride, because they hated the cool cool kitty cabanas we had spent a ton of money on for them to ride in, in the car that hubby was driving. It felt solid and steady while I was driving it, but hubby told me that the back of the trailer was waving like a beauty queen on a float in the Rose Parade, especially when I was going 80mph through OR, my least favorite state. Except for Utah.

        • cardiogirl says:

          gold-star.jpg That’s another fear of mine and something I would avoid like the plague if it was asked of me: hauling anything behind my vehicle.

          Loved the image of the cats in the trailer and the trailer waving crazily like beauty queen.

          And for that, you have earned the Gold Star of the Day, missy. Well done!

  • Madge says:

    My first car was a stick, burned the clutch out of it so bad that chunks fell out on the freeway, and he cab filled up with smoke. Didn’t take long after that to realize that first and third are close together, but not the same. That is also when I learned that even if you buy the warranty the clutch is a wearable item, and not covered.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Way to go, madge! Chunks, you say? It did suck the first time I learned that the manufacturer’s warranty is not all-inclusive. I still think that’s wrong and absurd.

      The whole car should be covered. All of it.

  • KZ says:

    All of the things you’ve listed are very useful skills to have. Personally, I can’t drive stick, and I am terrible at chess. I can sometimes fake my way through a Texas Hold ‘Em game, and stay in long enough to lose at heads up play.

    I don’t have any advice to give on driving, or chess, but as far as poker goes, if you’re open to trying out a single-player PC game, I would highly recommend World Class Poker With Tj Cloutier. Think of it as a big, interactive tutorial. The emphasis of the game is teaching beginners how to play Texas Hold ‘Em. The game is fun, the computer opponents play intelligently, and it offers you valuable, contextual advice on what to do for every hand that you play. I learned a lot from that game.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Do you have to download the program or can you just play on the site. I always get nervous when I have to download a program. That’s not to say that a virus can’t hop on the scene from a website even if you don’t download anything, it’s just one of my personal neuroses.

      I do like that idea, though.

  • Linda says:

    I thought I wanted to learn to drive a manual. That’s what hubby prefers, and he was going to teach me. I tried and did the normal stall outs and bunny hops, and eventually gave up. Some years later and a different car, we tried again. Finally, I decided that I just really didn’t care to learn. After all, they’re not going to stop making automatic cars.

    I know how to play chess, but stink at it. Poker – not so much. I know a few of the basics, but don’t play. I am definitely not a girlie-girl. Always been more of a tomboy.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Ah yes, the bunny hops! Perfect imagery, Linda.

      There’s a huge difference between knowing how to play chess and having a proficiency. I have no proficiency but I still like thinking ahead a few moves.

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