May 12, 2012

Dutch Letters & Brutal Honesty

"There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch."

~Nigel Powers (Michael Caine), in Austin Powers: Goldmember

So as my Twitter followers may be aware, I recently caved to my sig other's requests for new furniture for our living room, even though we already have perfectly good furniture. Apparently the fact I picked out the furniture before we met coupled with the opinion that my taste in furniture "sucks" and runs toward "ugly, old grandma stuff" means we need new furniture. Well, it's cheaper than a new house (another recurring theme also commonly worked into casual conversation).

In any event, today we drove an hour to the historic and picturesque town of Pella, Iowa, famous for its Dutch heritage. Pella has a beautifully preserved downtown area with gorgeous old brick buildings, windmills, a canal, and an historic opera house. Each May a tulip festival is held, drawing hordes of tourists. The locals are so into the Dutch theme that even modern fast food restaurants and convenience stores must be built in faux-Dutch manner, heavy on the brick and steep-sloped roofs. My favorite Pella attraction is the old country Jaarsma Bakery on the town square, with its wide array of pastries, most notably strudel and Dutch letters.

After looking at three living room sets the sig other had scouted a week or two ago—including a set identical to a set we had looked at here in the Des Moines area but at $500 more—the sig other headed on the road with Berkeley to his hometown for Mother's Day with his family, and I headed back to Des Moines after popping into Jaarsma Bakery for a coffee cake and a dozen Dutch Letters. The road home took me right past the Meadows ATM, and my car guided me into a prime parking spot late in the afternoon. So something productive was salvaged for the day.

The Meadows poker room was strangely dead with one $3/$6 LHE game and one $1/$2 NLHE game running. After waiting 15 minutes or so, a new $1/$2 NLHE game was opened, but it was hard to tell the difference as my cards were colder than an iceberg. Eventually I hit a couple of hands and cashed out with a $200 profit—or as I prefer to view it, 10% of a leather sofa.

One amusing moment occurred late in the session. A young college kid joined the game, and was clearly new to live casino poker. His first hand he posted in, then accidentally pulled back his post, resulting in the dealer mucking his hand preflop—he of course claimed he had a pocket pair and would have flopped a set. Then when his blinds hit, he would put out his blinds, then fiddle with them and accidentally put the chips back in his stack before the action got to him, resulting in an embarrassing lecture from the dealer and some teasing from the table. His play was pretty ABC weak-tight, and he was a tell-spewing fish most hands.

Late in my session, an older regular known for his blunt talk joined the game. Young Fish was visibly uncomfortable at our table. Eventually a seat opened up at the other $1/$2 NLHE table, and Old Regular was first up for a table change; he declined. Young Fish then asked if he could change tables, leading Old Regular to spout, "You can't move! You're the reason I'm staying at this table!" Everyone laughed, but it was clear Old Regular was being completely honest. Young Fish began racking up to leave, and Old Regular says, "Can I at least have your phone number? We have a home game you should play in."

For some reason, he never got that number.

Windmill near Pella town square.


  1. "Dutch Letters?" he asked, intrigued.

  2. I love Pella and have been to the tulip fest more than once. Have a few of their windows, in fact.


  3. @ Gary: Dutch Letters are amazing! Flaky crisp puff pastry, coated with sugar granules outside, and filled with almond paste inside. Eat one with coffee for a sweet treat, eat two or three for a true food coma.

  4. @ Dr Chako: My former law firm does a lot of work for Pella Windows. Never was a problem to go visit them for a file review!

  5. My wife is from Pella and the in-laws still live there. We make the trek from Minnesota to Pella a few times a year and always have to visit Jaarsma...they also make the best cinnamon bread!

  6. Scaring the fish away with dumb comments about how bad he sucks is NEVER a good idea. You should have punched that old guy out.

  7. @ SirFWALGMan: This old guy is a regular, total degen, plays the big games (5/110 PLO8, etc.), just can't keep his mouth shut, often winds up barred from area casinos for a few days to a few months at the time when he gets into altercations.

    So yeah, a peach of a guy.