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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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Come Sit By Me: A Literary Alternative to Missed Connections

I’m single again—for the first time since I moved to New York City—and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to meet people. Specifically, I've been thinking a lot about how to meet interesting guys.

Sometimes I fantasize that I’ll be doing two weeks’ worth of laundry and collide with the love of my life while moving my whites from the washer to the dryer, but that hasn’t happened yet. And I’m not opposed to online dating per se, but I’ve tried it before, when I lived in Washington, DC, a few years ago. One K Street lawyer, upon introducing himself to me at the sleazily lit subterranean wine bar he’d chosen for our meeting, groped me plain as day while “helping me with my scarf.” Cue my quick break for the exit. And the bike mechanic/librarian/grad student I actually liked disappeared without so much as a text message. I wouldn’t deem it a success.

Where did I end up meeting my most recent boyfriend? In a book club.

So I’ve been asking myself some basic questions: What do I like? Reading. What am I looking for in a date? Someone who enjoys books and talking about them, and who can strike up good conversations with strangers. An idea started to gel. Maybe if I’m choosy about what I read on my longish interborough commute, the right guy—one with superlative taste who’s curious enough to make a move—will be drawn to me by the tractor beam the open book in my hands emits.

I ran this idea by my therapist, and she started nodding excitedly. “Books are such a great crutch,” she said. “I think of them like props.”

Exactly.

So this strategy’s been clinically endorsed. I’ve reviewed my journals, made a list of the most attractive qualities of potential soul mates past (setting aside their less desirable traits—e.g., substance addiction, monomaniacal narcissism, commitment phobia), and distilled it into archetypes of the charming men I hope to meet, if fate wills it, somewhere in the New York City public transit system. Here they are—along with the books that will compel them to engage me (or you!) instead of their iPhone.

1. The I’d-Rather-Be-Outdoorsman

Book Bait: Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey

My friends still talk about Daniel.* (Any reference to him is accompanied by the gesture of holding one’s hands up more than a foot apart.) My friendship with him morphed into something physical during his senior year and my junior year of college. He spent his summers fly-fishing in Idaho and his spring break volunteering on farms in Nicaragua. And he could be romantic: He once drove me up to a mountain overlook to polish off a box of wine. Daniel didn’t have a very good memory, but if he forgot his key card, he was strong enough to climb to the second-story balcony of his apartment to let himself in through the sliding-glass door. Enough said.

Do men like this exist in New York City? And if so, do they read? (The only book I remember Daniel cracking was I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, by Tucker Max.) Surveying my bookshelves for appropriate material, my gaze fell on Desert Solitaire. It ranks alongside Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in the eco-lit canon; anyone who loves nature and being in it will appreciate Abbey’s detailed descriptions of pristine Utah, before paved roads and RVs. Plus, it’s about a season spent drinking beers alone at Arches National Park, a dream job from a bygone time for anyone who’s ever plotted an escape from the city. Hey, you, with the Chacos and sexy calves! Take me camping upstate?

2. The Highbrow Lawyer

Book Bait: Herzog, by Saul Bellow

Confession: I’ve never read Saul Bellow. And I’m fairly certain that’s why my relationships with men who profess to adore his writing never have worked out. One such Bellow superfan, a former fellow writing tutor (now a lawyer) struck me as a great catch: He was Ivy League smart, Southern, a Tom Waits enthusiast (I can still remember listening to Closing Time in his bed), and a New York Review of Books subscriber, and we wore the same size bluejeans. That might’ve been convenient if it had lasted into the winter. He insisted that I read Saul Bellow. Maybe there’s something I’m missing?

Katie Roiphe, writing for Slate on the occasion of Bellow’s death in 2005, characterized the totemic Bellow woman as, “infinitely generous, colorful, voluptuous, pliable, passionate, beautiful, full of appetite, slightly exotic, or actually foreign, with a great appreciation of the intellect, and a penchant for lingerie.”

OK... I could be that woman. In an effort to channel her, I’m going to start with 1964’s Herzog, widely considered Bellow’s masterpiece. The book critic Julian Moynahan wrote that in it, Bellow’s protagonist finds balance, incredibly, in instability. Funny, that’s just what I need to discover for myself. Hello, fellow straphanger in the skinny jeans and the Gillian Welch concert T-shirt. Is that what you’re looking for too?

3. The Shy Financier

Book Bait: Still Life With Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins

A sweet I-work-at-a-bank-type guy once asked me if I’d read Tom Robbins. Well. I’d just left my complete Robbins collection (minus Still Life With Woodpecker) on my brownstone’s stoop because my new bookshelves couldn’t accommodate it. I’d sped through all his novels on high school beach trips. Unlike the book my mom gave me in lieu of explaining sex (Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume), Robbins’ novels—Woodpecker, in particular—made sex sound fun. I might never read Jitterbug Perfume again, but Woodpecker, definitely.

Another reason to hang on to Woodpecker: It contains practical advice for my Brooklyn-based love life: “Who knows how to make love stay?” Robbins writes. Tip number one: “Tell love you are going to Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if loves stays, it can have half. It will stay.”

By asking my opinion on Robbins, this fellow clearly wanted to hint at the free-spirited sexual hippie-beast inside him that might peek out after another IPA or two. Fast-forward two months—a text! “Enjoyed Jitterbug a lot better.” So much for that.

I still think the methodology is sound. Reading Woodpecker in public is advertising that you believe in the “sudden rush of magic” Robbins writes happens when two people meet and fall in love. Hey, you over there in the tortoiseshell wayfarers. Do you believe in magic?

4. The Conservationist Turned I-Banker

Book Bait: Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

I met Tyler* at my college bookstore, where I had a work-study job. He had a blond ponytail and blue eyes and story after story about his summer working in Mozambique. At his cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, he showed me Africa photographs and popped open PBRs and danced with me to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. Besmitten, loveshot, I e-mailed him an Elizabeth Bishop poem, “Questions of Travel”: “And have we room /
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?” Let’s just say we didn’t.

Tyler visited campus once after he graduated. Running into him felt like meeting a new person. The old Tyler had given away all his clothes except for a T-shirt printed with Michelangelo putti and a pin-tucked linen button-down. The new Tyler wore an Hermès silk tie. The new Tyler cut his hair above his ears.

The point is, there may very well be a rock-climbing, “Sweet Thing”–humming, third-world-traveling adventurer sitting next to me, disguised in an expensive dark suit, wishing he were in Mozambique instead. In Mountains Beyond Mountains, a doctor named Paul Farmer travels to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Russia, evangelizing the NGO-friendly doctrine that “the only real nation is humanity.” It’s powerful enough to tempt a man to reconsider that unlived life—and perhaps take someone else along, if they’re game for it. Reading Kidder suggests just that. Hey, Mr. John Varvatos: My hiking boots are ready when you are.

5. The Migratory Southerner

Book Bait: A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, by Eudora Welty

One October night, I left a party with a friend who put his denim jacket around my shoulders, the way nice Southern boys do. We walked to his house, where sheets of loose-leaf paper covered every surface—the couch, the floor, the desk. He read me part of one of his stories about Appalachia. Jacksonville City Nights played loud. We talked about Eudora Welty. I slept there. To say I had a crush on him after that would be an understatement of biblical proportions. But I never did anything about it—except write a hundred-page-long paper on Eudora Welty.

Welty is a writer’s writer steeped in the South. Because of that, I equate familiarity with her short stories and novels to a certain kind of vetting. More people seem to know Flannery O’Connor; if they’ve read A Good Man Is Hard to Find and can make witty reference to Hulga’s wooden leg, that’s a signifier and a turn-on in its own right. But meeting someone admiring of Welty is like spotting a rare bird.

Any self-respecting Southern writer should recognize her byline. A Curtain of Green and Other Stories is my favorite. It contains her best (in my opinion) stories: “Why I Live at the P.O.,” “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies,” and “Death of a Traveling Salesman.” They’re full of gossip and turns of phrase that prick up your ears, they’re so lively and specific, not to mention her dark humor. The communities where these stories take place make me feel so lonesome for home that I almost want to move back. Then I remember there aren’t any jobs and sigh. My best hope is finding someone in NYC who’s similarly nostalgic and as appreciative of Welty’s ear for language as I am.

In a twist on the Steel Magnolias aphorism, I offer: “If you have something smart to say, come sit by me.”

 

Photo via the Underground New York Public Library.

Elyse has written for (published and forthcoming): ELLE,  BBC Travel, Creative Nonfiction, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn Heights.

131 Comments / Post A Comment

Lu2
Lu2

"Steel Magnolias"? :(
--D. Parker

brightlybee

@Lu2 I thought that quote was attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth? No matter, I'll always read it in a Clairee Belcher voice anyway.

Lu2
Lu2

@brightlybee You're probably right. I only knew it wasn't original to Steel Magnolias, surmised it was Dorothy Parker, and found (spurious) confirmation on the web in my haste to post my nasty little note. :)

brightlybee

@Lu2 Dorothy Parker is always an acceptable answer.

michealjohn

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jams

New York Review of Books subscriber, and we wore the same size bluejean flood damage repair

jams

I know a lot of guys are jerks but we should all be able to handle a little small talk. Conversations about books tend to be good ones, so try to be open-minded next time the opportunity presents itsel sell horseboxes

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jams

Hey, you, with the Chacos and sexy calves! Take me camping upstate? Ontario Fishing Trips

Vicky

This is a nice idea in theory but good fucking god I don't want anyone to talk to me while I'm reading.

stonefruit

@Vicky Or, honestly, while I'm commuting.

Lily Rowan

I was really disappointed when the guy standing directly in front of me on the subway was reading the same book I was, but didn't want to chat about it at all -- but it's true, usually I don't want anyone interrupting me when I'm reading OR talking to me during my commute.

drydenlane

@Vicky This week, while reading on the bus, a guy continued to talk to me, asking me first if we could go to dinner, then if I had any drugs, if I could give him some money, if i wanted to go to a hotel room. HELLO, I am reading. :/

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@drydenlane I have no time for ANY of these what I'm sure are incredibly pleasant options, buddy.

SuperWittySmitty

@Vicky Rarely will I try to strike up a conversation with a woman on the subway unless it's centered on a book I see she's reading. I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable but a (public) book reader should be able to handle this. I know a lot of guys are jerks but we should all be able to handle a little small talk. Conversations about books tend to be good ones, so try to be open-minded next time the opportunity presents itself.

a runner in the garden

Say what you will about David Foster Wallace dudes, but I found this illustration by Dyna Moe super charming (and encouraging, when I was preparing to move to New York):

RebeccaKW

@SuperWittySmitty @Vicky I'm with Vicky. I'm reading, leave me alone. I'm sure you are nice and whatever, but I'm reading and therefore that is the only thing I'm interested in right now. It drives me crazy to be interrupted. "Hey, what are you reading? Do you like it? What's it about?" GO. AWAY.

Lu2
Lu2

I like the idea of finding just the right book to attract attention from a certain kind of person. I've never been approached on the basis of a book, except for one time when a douchebag approached me as I was sunbathing in a two-piece swimsuit on my apartment building's roof and reading Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology. He feigned interest and asked to borrow it. That whole encounter was a real head-scratcher to me.

princess rainbow

@Lu2 I was once reading on the subway Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet, a book pretty obviously about some serious queer theory, when some dude asked me about it and then tried chatting me up for awhile. I mean, I know I don't look gay, but come on! It was puzzling and frustrating.
Worse, no ladies ever talked to me while I was reading it...

lobsterhug

@Lu2 Back when I took the commuter train, a conductor asked me what I was reading and it happened to be Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. There followed an awkward conversation that only ended when we arrived at my destination.

Lu2
Lu2

@lobsterhug @princess rainbow I like your stories!

bocadelperro

@princess rainbow when I was learning German in college, I read a lot of books published by Reclam--which is the German equivalent of the Penguin Classics, except that the covers are super-plain and made of yellow construction paper. They're also generally about the size of a largeish smartphone, so I often kept them in my coat pocket. Apparently pulling out a tiny yellow book in a coffee shop is catnip to a certain kind of undergrad male, and they never understood why I was so grouchy to be interrupted.
Eventually I stopped going to coffee shops to study and my German improved vastly.

cupcakecore

@Lu2 One time, a guy at the campus coffee house tried to chat me up while I was reading Lolita. Yep. He was/is a complete tool.

harebell

@Lu2
ah ha ha. I have mock-frightened my husband by reading that one.

but it's fun to make temporary acquaintances through books. I got chatted up (very nicely) by a passing lady in New York while reading Studs Terkels's Working: People Talk about What They Do.

testingwithfire

@harebell had a similar experience in a coffee shop when I was reading a Tana French book. I think it can be nice to have a coffee shop chat with a stranger, as much of an introvert as I am.

I think there's a taboo around striking up conversations with strangers in some places in the States, even in public places, which is kind of a sad thing.

So the coffee shop chat is a nice break from that, as long as it's obvious that both parties consent to the chat!

Lu2
Lu2

@cupcakecore Ugh, "Lolita" is a tough one. It's so misunderstood that probably any stranger who strikes up a conversation while you're reading it is probably thinking, "Heh heh heh, Lolita {drool}."

meetapossum

I think my preferred Robbins book bait would be Fierce Invalids, but I still haven't read Woodpecker. I went on a huge Robbins kick when I first got to New York. It captured my flighty optimism about the city really well.

magnowlia

@meetapossum Woodpecker is without a doubt the best Robbins. I still half hope to meet a Bernard on any given plane trip.

oh! valencia

@meetapossum I tried reading Fierce Invalids but couldn't quite get into it, and then Switters' pedophilia stuff was really troubling to me so I gave up. Should I try again, or maybe another book by him?

meetapossum

@oh! valencia It gets slightly less creepy, but I imagine if you didn't like the beginning you won't like the rest. The first Robbins book I read was Another Roadside Attraction, which I think you would like more.

joythemanatee

I like this idea! For my brother, actually, as I am already married... but my brother commutes by car, so that doesn't work... let's figure out a system of hooking up cool people we know. Anybody in the --- area looking for an awesome guy??

LittleMeteor

I can confirm that this works...ish. I was reading _Even Cowgirls Get the Blues_ (Robbins) and met my college boyfriend. He walked up, said it was his favorite Robbins novel, and then I made him participate in all of my volunteer activities in order to woo me. Arty, writery, a little hyperactive, but a super sweet guy.

lobsterhug

I fear I am too old to read Robbins for the first time and I regret not reading him in college when my roommate was obsessed with his books.

Roxanne Rholes

@lobsterhug The secret is just to pretend you're too young, idealistic, and stoned to realize that Robbins is actually kind of a dick. Just let it flow through you and enjoy the magickey stuff and the ridiculous writing and the insane characters. Don't get too critical and you can have an excellent time with him!

ETA: I have been a fan of Tom Robbins ever since I found my mom's copy of Skinny Legs And All, at which time I was far too young for the material. I don't mean to sound like I'm talking shit on the guy. He's super fun. Just not perfect!

LaLoba

@lobsterhug I thought being in college was too old to start reading Tom Robbins when I first tried Jitterbug Perfume. That one is very silly, scattered, and at times littered with misdirected prose. However, it is indeed such a fantastical jungle cruise of a novel that I am willing to forgive a lot.

A couple years ago i finally read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and I still believe it's a book on a different level that's quite complex, troubling, and shockingly bold.

But still . . . maybe read them in private if you are over 19?

highfivesforall

@lobsterhug Another secret, I think, is to almost completely disregard the plots. Robbins is great at making you feel feelings and visualize his scenes, but the greater message he seems to be trying to send with most of his plots is not so impressive to grown-up me. College me was all over that shit, but now I still appreciate the books for their silliness, wordsmithery, and joy. Some of the plot devices are fantastic, like the inanimate objects that lead rich lives in Skinny Legs and All, but the overarching plot is almost boring compared to everything else. (Also do NOT read Half-asleep in Frog Pajamas, it is an anomaly of terribleness.)

P.S. Roxanne I still have your copy of Villa Incognito!

lobsterhug

@all I can work with this set of expectations.

Roxanne Rholes

@highfivesforall I don't still have your copy of Lady Oracle. I don't remember if I told you that I was so mad about how terrible it was that I threw it away. MAY IT BE FOREVER FORGOTTEN.

lookuplookup

I can definitely confirm that my partner and I would never, ever approach each other based on reading material. He cares as much about my contemporary non-genre fiction as I do about his paperback bio-terrorism thrillers.

A couple weeks ago I went out to a cafe on my lunch hour and spent the whole time meditatively repeating, "Please don't try to talk to me, please don't try to talk to me," when I ended up in close quarters with a guy reading The Tin Drum.

rathermarvelous

I like the idea of mythologizing past loves with books, but I'd never be interested in anyone with interests too similar to mine. I'm one of those Groucho Marx types--I'll never join a club that would have me as a member.

mczz

@rathermarvelous Me too. But I guess that's mostly because I'm currently reading Lauren Graham's novel, and this is fairly indicative of my reading tastes.

emmacatherine

@mczz Someday, Someday, Maybe? I just finished that! Are you enjoying it?

sophia_h

I'm married and I have the opposite issue with observing my fellow commuters' reading material -- I wanted to make up little bookmarks with links to far superior BDSM fanfic to give to all the women reading 50SOG last summer, and I wanted to tell the guy reading Game of Thrones with a TV show cover "nooo, pull out now, save yourself, the series has gone to a terrible place."

anotherkate

@sophia_h soooo, about those fanfic recs....canihavethem?

frumious bandersnatch

NO WHAT DO NOT TALK TO ME WHILE I'M READING

IF I am holding it on my lap (or looking up from reading AND we make eye contact and I smile/look friendly), THEN you may say something. Please keep it on the book for at least a little or I will think I got tricked into being hit on. BUT if I respond monosyllabically and don't contribute to the conversation after you drop a few comments/questions, politely say "nice talking about one of my favorite books/authors/subjects for a while! Sorry to interrupt you" and DON'T GET BUTTHURT.

I sympathize with trying to meet men but I am so fucking sick of men thinking their desire for companionship--even though that's a really nice thing--is more important than my book.

testingwithfire

@frumious bandersnatch they really don't care a hoot about YOUR desire for companionship. To this type of dude, any resistance on your part is just a minor obstacle that will yield with enough pushiness. Often the only thing you can do about these folks is to move seats.

RebeccaKW

@frumious bandersnatch Yes. If I'm not actively reading, fine. Say something. I've checked a text message, whatever, say something before I got back to the book. But once I start reading, leave me alone. Sorry to bust your ego, but yes, this book is more important to me than you, stranger.

Atheist Watermelon

I have actually hoped on several occasions that my choice of reading material might generate a conversation, but no dice whatsoever... i think i must have bitchy resting face when reading on the subway, or something.

Beaks

The reason my face is planted firmly in my New Yorker for my entire commute is because I do not want to talk to anybody. That is the point.

Also, one time a man sitting next to me felt the need to tell me he always found the cartoons in the New Yorker hilarious. Which was possibly more troubling than the part where he kept chuckling to himself about how crowded the bus was. Yeah.

cupcakecore

Your night with #5 sounds pretty much amazing, ngl, but it might be my fondness for Ryan Adams.

christopher hart

I christopher hart, I am Single, I like the idea of mythologizing past loves with book.

Tafadhali

I'm much too awkward to approach anyone on public transit, BUT if I see someone reading something interesting/wearing a nerdy t-shirt/etc. I start subtly or not-so-subtly making a performance of my own geekiness or intellectual pursuits in the hopes that they will sense a KINDRED SPIRIT. That is the time when I pull an academic tome on Shakespeare out of my purse or start talking loudly to my sister about Doctor Who or angle my cellphone so that the Starfleet uniform case is clearly visible. It's like an involuntary nerdiness tic.

abigailnicole

I have never been able to read a Nabokov book in public without being interrupted by at least one dude.

They are always the unemployed poet type.

miss buenos aires

When I was about six and a half months pregnant, and getting train seats on the regular (but not on the always), I was riding the train home when a middle-aged woman looked up and made eye contact with me. I was prepared to graciously, gratefully accept, when she came out with, "Don't you just love Salman Rushdie?" and launched into a one-sided conversation about how much she loved him. (I was reading Shame, which to be honest, I did not love. It was okay.) That is the only time anyone has ever engaged me in conversation about books on the train. I did not get a seat.

gulleyjimson

Elyse, I feel that, given the diversity of New York's population, you are unfairly limiting yourself to a small, and, frankly, not-very-interesting, subset of the male population. Here are some suggestions which may lead you to broader social contacts (apologies for the Euro-centrism):

1. The Russian Tax and Estate Lawyer
Book Bait: Dead Souls by Gogol

2. The Hungarian Heraldry Expert
Book Bait: Skylark by Deszo Kostolanyi

3. The Czech Book Restorer
Book Bait: Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal

4. The Danish Coffee Merchant
Book Bait: Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen

5. The Irish Beer Sommelier
Book Bait: At Swim Two Birds by Flann O'Brien

6. The French UN Attache for Insignificant Matters
Book Bait: Love by Stendhal

PomoFrannyGlass

I actually watched a guy hit on a girl on the subway yesterday using her book as a conversation starter! But I think it was because she was a young hip gorgeous blonde, since the book was by George RR Martin and you can find at least three of those in any given subway car.

BettyT

My husband is No.1. In fact, I'd never read Desert Solitaire until I met him and he urged me to read it, as he had all of his friends. Is it surprising that he's away camping this very moment, or that we just went camping last week?

Regina Phalange

Just wanted to boost the Tracy Kidder book - it's excellent!
Also, I think Elyse said this, but just to reiterate: Paul Farmer is the POLAR OPPOSITE of a do-gooder-turned-sell-out. He's the real deal, yo.

If you want a sneak peek of the book, here's a mag profile by the same author: http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2000-07-10#folio=040

rallioncal

This is a great novel, I suggest you read the whole thing ad then reflect on everything. This novel was written to enlighten one's heart. - Lindsay Rosenwald

fixri

We all know when you flip a coin the chances of hitting either heads or tails is 50/50, and yet we also realize that this does not mean that once you have flipped "heads" then the next flip has to come "tails." This is because each flip is independent of previous flips, and previous flips have no bearing on future events. This means that if you manage to flip 100 heads in a row, the chances of the next coin coming heads is still 50/50. Since this is the case, we can look around us and see trends taking place. We don't know why they happen, or how long they will last. But what we do know for sure is: Trends happen.

If you've ever been to a casino then you have surely witnessed a trend take place. Perhaps it was at the craps table with a hot shooter, hitting one point number after the other. Or maybe it was at the roulette table when you saw 10 red numbers in a row. Trends can be a very good thing or a very bad thing depending on what side of the bet you are on. Most professional gamblers will tell you to always look for and follow the trends, never bet against them. That means if you walk up to a roulette table and see that the last 10 numbers were all red, don't think to yourself: "Oh look, 10 red numbers in a row, black is due soon." Remember that each even is independent, and instead think to yourself: "Oh look, a trend is taking place, let's get on and ride this trend out until it dies!"

Most people don't think this way, and it's the main reason casinos put up the "Spin History" boards at all their roulette tables. It causes people to bet against the trends instead of with them, and casinos have seen their profits at the roulette tables skyrocket as a result. A hot trend is a casino's worst nightmare. For this reason try to remember to always try to spot trends and take advantage of them. You can do this by doing what is called "charting" the tables. Instead of jumping right into a game and hoping for the best, chart the tables until you think you've spotted a hot trend starting. Also, make sure you have an accurate knowledge of the game you are playing, so that you know the proper bets to make in order to take full advantage of the trend.

Be careful, though. Don't forget about the most important aspect of gambling: Discipline. Spotting a trend and getting in on it is one thing. Recognizing that a trend has ended and it's time to get out is quite another. Many people find it extremely hard to walk away from the table while they are ahead, or even behind for that matter. You need to set win goals and loss limits. It is better to walk away from the table with some money than it is to walk away flat broke. Remember to never chase your losses!

Following the trends is one of the things that makes professional gambling possible. Just remember that many other factors are involved when applying this simple concept. Chart the tables in the casino and find your trend. Learn proper betting habits at each particular game so that you are able to take advantage of the trend. Remember to walk away when the trend has ended by practicing discipline and smart money management. Good luck at the tables!

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Over the course of a few weeks, I conducted a very brief survey, asking randomly chosen casino visitors one simple question. The question was, "Why did you visit this casino today?" Besides receiving an odd look every now and then, I managed to get a range of different reasons why people visit casinos.

Reason 1: To gamble. Not suprisingly, this was the main reason as you can probably guess by looking around the game tables and slot machines.

Reason 2: To eat and drink. While some singles and couples attended the casino to enjoy a few drinks at the bar, others were more interested in dining out at the casino restaurant.

Reason 3: Entertainment. This is another very common reason for visiting a casino. Whether it's to see a comedy, magic, singing or dancing show, entertainment is a major factor when it comes to drawing casino visitors.

Reason 4: To socialize. Catching up with friends and socializing was another very common reason for visiting a casino.

Reason 5: Employment. This is not a reason that you'd expect to come up too frequently in people's minds, but it is nevertheless true. Many people go to a casino because they work there, be it as a dealer, showgirl or a waitress.

Reason 6: Boredom. Many people decided to venture down to the casino because they were feeling bored and did not know where else to go, or what else to do on a Friday or Saturday night.

Reason 7: Someone brought me here. Someone decided to visit the casino and bring their partner, relative, friend or colleague along.

Reason 8: To learn how to play the games. A few people attended the casino to watch and learn how to play some of the casino games.

Reason 9: Romance. Be it the couple who decided to meet at the casino on a date or the single man or woman who is hoping to meet someone interesting, casinos are apparently great venues for meeting interesting new people.

Reason 10: There was no solid reason 10, but a collection of funny, strange and weird answers such as "I needed to use the bathroom" and "Someone owes me money".

So as you can see, people don't just visit casinos in order to gamble, but for a variety of interesting reasons.

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