the gambler

He: Mind if I sit here?
She: Please.
He: So you look like you know your way around.
She: No, I’ve never been here before.
He: I don’t believe you. What’s the wifi password?
She: I have no idea. Really, I’ve never been here before. Where are you from?
He: I’m not from around here.
She: Dare I ask where?
He: Oh, around. Here and there. I’m in town now. Where do you live?
She: Berkeley.
He: Oh, well that’s here. You’re local.
She: Well, I got lost trying to find this place.
He: I’m from New York.
She: Well that solves the mystery.
He: What is this, a job interview?
She: I thought it might be a conversation.
He: Are you presenting today?
She: No, I’m just a participant. A fan. How about you?
He: Oh, you know…. Let me give you one of my cards. (Searches his pockets.) Do you have a card?
She: Yeah. Let me get it.
He: You show your card first.
She: (Hands it over.)
He: (Raised eyebrows.) Ooh, now that looks dubious.
She: Dubious?
He: “Girl in the hand”?
She: Girl in the Hat. I’m a writer. That’s my website.
He: Well why doesn’t it have your name on it?
She: I guess you’re supposed to know who I am by the time I hand you the card. (Pretending to be important and shaking his hand.) Hello I’m Anna Fonté, the writer.
He: Oh, of course, the Anna Fonté.
She: (Laughing at herself.) That’s right.
He: Well I’m ****** *****.
She: Pleased to meet you.
He: (Holds out a deck of playing cards.) Take one. I suggest you take one from the top.
She: (Looks at the box of warped cards.)
He: The ones on the top are better.
She: What, is it going to explode on me or something?
He: (Pulls one out and hands it over. It’s a 5 of spades with an illegible word scribbled in blue sharpie in the middle and a hole punched through the middle.) Turn it over. See? From the now defunct New York, New York casino in Vegas. When they shut down, they cut the corners of the cards. See? (There is a question mark drawn in blue sharpie on the back.)
She: So mysterious. Are you a gambler?
He: Only when I have to be.
She: What does that mean?
He: What is this, a job interview?
She: Like I said, I thought it was going to be a conversation.


About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. You have cards? What a good idea.

  2. well, you’ve already got me worried about the safety of she.

  3. She was totally working that he.

  4. macdougalstreetbaby

    I love that being from New York solves the mystery. I’m waiting for someone to use that line on me.

  5. Nice!

    I love that you have cards too.

  6. I think I love you, The Anna Fonte. And I love that picture! This story was terrific — made my day.

  7. I’m not sure why, but this made my day.

  8. Here’s to the comedy of weird conversations. I only fall into this kind when the other person is a guy. I wish I was sure what that meant.

    I thought everybody had cards too. Maybe not everyone’s wordprocessing program has a business card template in it.

    • Yay! Another card-carrying writer. I was starting to wonder.

      It’s true– I feel like I could insert “alien” where “he” is written and “android” where “she” is written. Or or cat and dog or paranoid cop and malignant ex wife or black and white. We totally didn’t get each other and it was really weird.

  9. Wow — quite wonderfully flirtatious. Are you a flirt, Anna? (Hope so, since I’m one myself! A dying art?)

    • I’m not sure I’d call myself a flirt. How about a lively, intelligent person who likes a friendly word game now and then? I think it must be a dying art, Jody, because he didn’t know how to play.

  10. Love this. Love that NY solves everything. I have a friend who says he hails from Dallas as a solver of all things unknown. It’s amazing…

  11. A lovely bit of repartee! Thanks for sharing, Girl in the hand!

  12. This story spoke to me on so many levels. It’s a great example of seamless dialogue telling a story. This story is so similar to the kind of funky banter I find myself having with wonderful strangers all the time. And finally, your way with language is charming as all get out. Yay for Anna Fonté!

    Oh! One more thing: I JUST got my new cards for my blog!

    • It probably feels real because it is real. I wish I stumbled into this kind of dialogue more often. I don’t get out much, I guess. We should all talk to strangers more often, I think. And tell me more about your card. What does it say? What does it look like? Can I see it?

      • I have really unguarded conversations with people. (And I don’t get out enough, either!)

        I’m very shy sometimes, but I have this knack for chatting with strangers. Why is that, do you think?

        I would *LOVE* to show you my business card! I have the prototype on my FB Community page.

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