When I hear Jimmy Buffet's song, 'A Pirate Looks at 40,' I think of the Caribbean, the trade winds and the power of oceans.
In the old days, a sailor without wind could not sail. Sometimes sailors on a ship would be caught in the doldrums -- an atmosphere where the wind does not blow and where you simply have to wait until Mother Nature decides to cooperate in order to get you moving again.
I watched the Johnny Depp movie 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and became so bored at the lack of realism that I left the theater after less than 30 minutes.
Living in St. Kitts, Nevis and St. Maarten, I became acquainted with the sea. I covered regattas and cigarette boats. Took a terrifying 60-mile per hour over the waves from St. Maarten to a tiny island 13 miles away.
The cigarette boat flew over the waves, bouncing high into the sky and landing with a bone-jarring thud. My journey left me aching with bruises, filled with adrenalin -- and promising myself I would never do it again.
I read a book once written by a highly respected historian who lived on Nevis. It was about sugar cane, rum and the pirates who lived in the Leeward Islands. It also described the last massive pirate hanging when the government of St. Kitts hung 19 pirates who had raided a British vessel. Only the ship's doctor, a 14-year-old cabin boy and an ailing seaman who was in sick bay when the raid occurred were spared.
Can you imagine a chase at sea? It could take days for one ship to outrun the other. And if during that chase the winds suddenly ceased, the chase would end. The pursuers and the pursued would be trapped in the doldrums and their fate would be sealed.
Gamblers, especially poker players, can also be trapped when the winds of chance fail them.
Although it doesn't happen very often, luck can change for a gambler. Nothing he does seems to work. He can change games, change seats, buy good luck charms, and even stand on his head and nothing happens.
He is trapped in the doldrums.
I have talked with oldtime gamblers who have suffered from this ailment. They physically shudder when they describe it.
One gambler said, 'There's no way to rush the ending. All you can do is wait and let it run its course. The cards seem to have a mind of their own and no human force can change things.'
I remember the first time I visited the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. I had been going to The Meadows near Washington, PA., heard about the Rivers and wanted to try my luck there.
The casino was very lucky for me. I would take the bus from my hotel in Charleroi and make the 45-minute trip night after night.
I won 13 times in a row. It was an incredible experience.
Some of the other players knew my younger brother, Legs. They were bitter about my winning streak and came up with all sorts of reasons for my luck.
'He just plays nut hands,' one said. 'Nobody loses when you play the nuts.'
Well, maybe the player is right. I was playing the nut hands. But what power caused me to receive those hands?
Eventually my luck changed, of course. Lady Luck abandoned me for a spell and visited others, leaving me temporarily trapped in the doldrums. Jimmy Buffet would understand.