As much as I hate Los Angeles and swear I will never live in that vast wasteland again, I do tend to spend more time here than just about anywhere else besides Vegas. Having gone to college in LA and having lived in town a couple of years beyond that, I have a friend base here I like to check in on with relative frequency.
This trip, I didn’t even really have much of agenda to the visit. I did go to see some movies at the TCM Classic Film Festival, but I mostly just wanted to get away from Vegas and poker for just a minute before the long stretch of the World Series of Poker begins in about a month.
While I love my poker friends and enjoy Vegas a lot, I like these trips because they remind me there was a time in my life where everything was not about poker, both at and away from work.
I also like trips like these since they offer me a chance to hit up some of my favorite LA food establishments that I tend to get somewhat nostalgic for, like Poquito Mas. For those not in the know, Poquito Mas is hands-down the bet walk in and order at the counter fast food chain there is. Eff Qdoba. Eff Chipotle. And, call me crazy fellow Las Vegans, but eff Cafe Rio too.
I hit up the local Poquito with three of my friends, including Vince, who lived on my floor freshman year of college. Vince is the ultimate reality check kind of friend both because his accomplishments in life are inevitably always twice as impressive as yours and because he is always ready and willing to call you on the dumb decisions you’ve made in your life the most humorous way possible. Cases in point:
“Oh guys, we can’t go the movie right now, Jess is real busy with work. You know, checking the Twitters.”
“Remember your first big break up when you went a little crazy and made your AIM status ‘Coping’ for a week?”
In other words, he is awesome. One of my favorite people and one who always found this strange detour of mine from my life plan into poker more amusing, strange, and nonsensical than most.
As I grabbed us a booth, Vince rounded up salsa and utensils. While he was scooping some verde sauce, a man approached him.
“Excuse me, but is that Jess Welman?”
I guess this nice man saw Vince and I chatting in line and deduced we knew one another. Vince was more perplexed and offered nothing but a blank stare.
“I don’t know her,” the man explained,“I’m just a fan.”
Before I go on with the story, let me briefly explain that, yes, from time to time, people recognize who I am from my web video, podcast, and WPT days. This mostly happens at poker events, but occasionally it happens in the most unusual of places–typically fast food Mexican restaurants. Like the nice fellow who spotted me in an Oklahoma City Moe’s Southwestern Grill once. While I always find people saying they like my work flattering, it never ceases to be a little strange for me, as most of my non-poker friends, like Vince, don’t even realize I have been on TV before.
With that in mind, what happens next shouldn’t surprise you.
Vince bursts out laughing, one of those gutteral laughs that comes in waves. I am still unclear on whether or not Vince confirmed who I was, I joined the story as Vince, genuinely doubled over, comes back to the booth, takes a seat, and continues to laugh, stopping long enough to incredulously inform me:
“That guy in the Longhorns hat over there just asked if you were Jess Welman.”
Yup. This is exactly why I came to LA this weekend.