“Please remove your laptop and place it on a separate bin”, security officer stated to me in monotone. There was not one shred of joy to be seen in her eyes. I felt the same. I had played for eight straight days and managed to win in none of them. Sometimes there’s a bliss in losing, the kind of euphoria you get when you feel totally free, but this was not one of those times. This time, it was just depressing.
Mr. JJ, a good friend of mine, was behind me when we went through the security control. We were both playing in unified bankroll which was provided by our backers. “Dead money brothers” they called us. Very fitting name, I thought, and a grin appeared on my face. Why does France always get me so melancholic? Probably because you never win here.
“So that kind of a trip then?” I say to JJ.
“Yeah”, JJ replied. He had been losing as well. Neither of us really felt like talking.
As I walk from the security check, I’m doing bankroll calculations in my head. They’re not looking good. My net worth is definitely negative. How much? Not sure yet – I’m trying not to think about it. What I am sure of is that the one 200-euro bill that I have in my wallet is everything I have to my name for the foreseeable future. That makes me worry a bit. I’m generally not known for my reasonable spending habits. Where the fuck did my half a million go? Bets, booze, girls and general degenerate behaviour. Sign stops my inner dialogue: CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR – 190 euros, it reads.
Pass it, pass it fast, and pray that JJ won’t see it.
“Hey man! Have you ever tried caviar?” JJ asks me.
“No, not really the proper stuff,” I reply.
JJ stops and grabs me by the shoulders as I’m trying to make my way to the gate.
“Should we?” He grins.
“I’m broke as hell” I explain to JJ.
“Duuuude, it’s 190 euros for an experience. Money can’t buy you anything more than experiences. I bet it’s delicious if you pair it with some dry white wine. Also, don’t worry about what you owe me – you’re in no rush to pay it.” JJ says.
“Pair the caviar with dry white wine.” Third time in Nice at the tender age of 21 and JJ has sentences like that already forming in his head. It’s going to be a long life. He was right though: What if our plane falls and I never experienced caviar? Could I really be pleased with myself in the great beyond? Probably not. And am I supposed to keep myself motivated about paying my debts when everyone who I owe money to are this chill about it? Fuck it. Pretentious or not, some dry white wine with caviar does sound great.
“Well…” I say.
“Yes, let’s do it!” JJ shouts and starts dragging me to the shop.
We get to the counter and order two plates which include oysters, caviar and a glass of dry white wine. I give the waiter my precious 200-euro bill and am forced ask separately for the change. The waiter gives me a disappointed look; he thought that the 10 euros would be automatically a tip. That 10-euros is going to be my budget for the next couple of weeks. I wonder if many people in Caviar desk worry about 10-euros. Probably not. Anyway, I need that for my future dishes which include a lot of macaroni and tuna, and some more macaroni and tuna.
I grab a toast and combine it with caviar, red onions and some sour cream – it looks delicious. JJ does the same. We clink our glasses, say some words about refined taste and travelling through southern France like normal 21-year old’s do. Slowly I raise the toast to my lips, ready to experience the world to the fullest. This is what royalty eats. This is what people all around the world dream of eating. I take a bite.
Fuck you France.
P.S. This story happened years back but as I still find it funny that I once went broke on food I decided to write about it.