is there a gender difference when it comes to placing bets?


Jack Franzen, one of the traders on the Merrill Lynch trading floor, was taking bets.  He was certain he could eat one of each from the contents of the vending machine on their floor, excluding the chewing gum.  Mints?  Did he have to do the Certs?  Yes.  He had trading hours in which to consume it all.  He was not permitted any private bathroom time.
"We need to sweeten the deal," his colleague convinced, "so you have to eat everything in order from top left to bottom right to make the bets more interesting."

For days before the vendor bender, employees hovered near the machine pondering where he was going to lose it.  "Dude, I’m telling you.  Those Snicker bars are no joke.  Especially after riding the pretzels."
"Nah, I hear he’s bringing in a blender.  I think he’s going down at E6.  Though I might broaden my bet and just take the whole E row."
"He’s lucky we’ve got two types of Combos.  Think he’ll put the peanut M&Ms in the blender?"
"Peanuts are like little pellets of grease in the stomach.  No way he’ll last past those suckers."

Even when I’m right, I rarely find myself saying, "how much you wanna bet?!"  I think men like to bet more than women do.  I tend to play the betting card when I’m around a gambler.  A man I once dated was out with me one night, signing along to The Band’s The Weight
"Um, it’s take a load off Fanny, not Annie," I told him.
"Um, no it’s NOT!"
"Um, yeah, it is."
"No, you’re wrong. Who walks around with the name Fanny?  Please."
"How much you wanna bet?" I went there with him.  I did it because he was that type, the type of guy who’d bet a girl.  But men don’t bet women money, because if they took it, they’d still feel like a loser.  Most men, when betting a woman, will bring "blowjob" to the plate.  Sexual favors are always asked for over a lasagna.  Okay, the MID took the bet, but what did I want if I won?  House chores?  Please.  Who cares.  I wanted humiliation. 

So we bet, and the loser had to sing The Weight, with the correct lyrics, on a street corner with an empty bowl until s/he earned ten dollars.  And they weren’t allowed to say it was a bet.  And although I won the bet, he never followed through.  I should have broken up with him then. 

Vendor machine Jack vomited in the trash pail beneath his desk, fifteen minutes to the close of the market.  "What did he say pushed him over the edge," I asked my friend Jennifer who was working on the floor.  I never got an answer. 

The suitor recently told me I should never ask a question I don’t already know the answer to.  "But why?" I asked, breaking his rule.  Though I did presume he meant when trying to make some point with someone, which he seems to do a lot with me.  I usually only ask questions when I don’t know the answer.  I don’t do it to get the person with whom I’m speaking to move down a chain of thought, to string them along to see things my way.  I ask because I need reassurance or I need an answer.   Simple as that.  I don’t need to bet on it.  Whereas, I think men sometimes bet to prove something, to push things further.  Maybe they feel more alive when they risk.  Even if it involves vomiting under your desk.



  1. I think you actually lost that bet (unless I misunderstood). According to the lyrics:

    A E D A E D
    Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free;
    A E D A D
    Take a load off Fanny, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on

  2. Leading up to the chosen day, traders tried to bribe the vending machine man to weight the machine with more or less of the perceived difficult items. The noble vending machine man would not be bribed, besides, he was being monitored by the adorable Bengali Minters snack bar boys across the hall.

    Jack was not allowed to vomit prior to the close of market. In the last 30 minutes of trading, he put the rest of the vending machine contents in the blender (including the major sized bags of pretzels) and chugged. The idiot traders staking bets of nearly 10 grand hadn't decided which time clock to use, so even though Jack did consume one of every vending machine slot item in virtually the time allotted, bets were called-off.

    Jack bolted from his trading floor seat, which was surrounded by traders watching him turn green. He made it almost to the men's room door, but he blew his wad on the wrong side of it. Those were the days!

  3. I loved this entry as well. And why are people getting all over you about the bet? It certainly read right to me – you totally won.

    And regarding what The Suitor suggested – what's the point of asking something you already know the answer to? That seems like a pretty scared way to walk through life. If I did that, I can't imagine that I'd wait around very long for someone to answer me, or that I would listen very carefully if I did. A question I didn't know the answer to, however… that I would wait for.

  4. This was a fun one Stephanie and indeed sexual favors are always asked for over lasagna

    The betting game really is a more socially acceptable way for a man to beat his chest now isn't it?

  5. ah yes… the "under desk vomiting"… such a sohpisticated way to pass the time. That is so gross. What kind of grown man allows himself to be dragged into something that will most definitely end in throwing up?

  6. What a fun post. The "don't ask a question unless you already know yhe answer," usually pertains to attorneys during cross-examination. I've not been around here that long. Is the suitor a legal beagle?

  7. Teri, no he's not a lawyer, though he acts like one during our "love spats." He insists we don't fight or argue. "We just disagree," he says plainly. Then he asks a question to which he already knows the answer.

  8. I used to work at one of the Big 5 accounting firms – we occasionally would not leave the office – all night – so our dinner consisted of vending machine food. One night – after 36 hours in the office – lovely, i know – we came up with Indian names for eachother – given our vending machine prefence for packaged crackers – I was Princess Cheese on Wheat – she was Princess SmokeHouse Cheddar. Sounds ridiculous now – but when you're punchdrunk from lack of sleep – that kept us laughing for hours.

    Totally smiling right now – haha.

  9. All the guys I know LOVE to bet too. Even the grown men I work with bet money on the stupidest things. Once a guy is challenged with a bet, he'd look like a wuss if he backed down – they goad each other into it. Guys.

  10. I checked Bloomberg but could not find a trader at Merrill Lynch named Jack Franzen. But it does sound like something a mortgage trader would do.

  11. Yeah, could be a guy thing. I'll only say the magic words if the other person is really annoying me insisting he or she (mostly he) is correct. Sorta like your Fanny dude.

  12. I have a feeling I lost it on E6's too; from my recollection, they were Andy Capp onion rings or pork rinds, and they'd been on that black wire coil for what had to be years. I remember, while studying for finals deep below the recesses of the SUB at GW, I was dared somewhere between AmCiv and ConLaw II. I proudly made it to the bathroom rather than filling up a garbage can under my desk, thanQ very much.

    Also, speaking as a guy, with all due respect to you, Stephanie, and Sass: sexual favors are asked for and requested over all types of foods, not just lasagna. But lasagna's as good a place as any to start, unless it's something exotic, like eggplant. That's just wrong.

  13. Don't ask a question you already know the answer to? I feel like, although always a LAWYERS mantra — a law professor? That's definitely their MO.

    And although I cannot lay claim to having consumed one-of-each — i have straight cleared out an entire row of baked cooler ranch doritos during a marathon study session where they were my motivation for every 2 hours of study. Tummy ache!

  14. Hi Stephanie…your blog is very interesting and I like to read it very day…ops! my name's Samuele and I'm from Italy. Bye

  15. Hi Stephanie good Post
    Sorry Kaia but I dont get how
    "Princess Cheese on Wheat" and "Princess SmokeHouse Cheddar" translate to Indian names.

  16. making bets over food by-products that contain mostly MSG and corn syrup is just a bad idea.

    now if that machine was filled with locally grown, organic foods i bet you the story would have had a happier ending.

    btw…..steph what do you eat ?

  17. I find interesting this whole men theory about not asking questions we don't already know the answer to, men risking, men vomitting, and all such things

  18. The reason why men bet is prove a point. If you're absolutely sure, and I'm absolutely sure, then why not put $100 on the bar just to see who is absolutely surer. You can argue all day on whether the Mets or Yankees are better, but once the Yankee fan pulls out a C-note, the Met guy has to shut up, or lose the $100.

    And the evolution of betting is related to men being hunters and women being gatherers. We have 100,000 years of genetics telling us to hunt, kill, go to war, etc. There are maybe 50 years of genetics telling us to be nice. So man remains a competetive creature. When you're 18, it's okay to vent this through sports, where hitting someone as hard as humanly possible is rewarded. When you 40-50, it becomes more social to bet on the SB, or golf, or poker. It's just a way to address our need to compete.

  19. zim city said he was sorry he couldn't fuck you after the dinners. after all you are his favorite writer…..

  20. My husband and his best friend were arguing over music, which band sang a certain song. My husband decided it was one band, his friend another. They started screaming over this (yes, many beers were involved) and the friend said "I'll bet OUR FRIENDSHIP that I am right!"

    He was wrong. My husband made sure to use that story in his Best Man speech at the friend's wedding. I highly doubt a woman would ever make a similar bet.

  21. Too funny,

    I just had a first date and I made a totally stupid bet….on the release date of the movie The Doors (1991)…we bet a total sum of $1.50 (I raised him the .50)and he went straight home after our bookstore/coffee date and looked it up.

    The good news is that I was right….the bad news is he wants to get together again to pay out the bet…..and there just wasn't a $1.50 worth of chemistry to collect on. I am living proof not to bet even when you KNOW you are right!!!

    Great post – very fitting!


  22. Joey B., the notion that "gender differences" have evolved from hunter/gatherer differences is a misconception, though a popular one. Gender roles (not anatomical sex), from a scientific point of view, are socially constructed. One needs only to look at non-western cultures (yes, they're still out there) to see that ideas about "which sex behaves what way" are historically and culturally bound. In the west, men are socialized to be more aggressive while women are socialized to be more nurturing. The idea that such differences are biological has been scientifically dismissed.

    Stephanie, this is a great post. Really great.

  23. Eliza – think of indian names – dances with wolves – chief running bear – rises with sun – etc – the names were supposed to be like that – and honestly – it's not important if you get it – it was funny to us back then and still makes me smile. I guess it's sort of a 'you had to be there' kind of thing…

    c'est la vie :)

  24. Sarah-I respectfully disagree for two reasons. I think virtually every parent I ever spoke to have all said that the sons were always played more aggressively than their daughters, even at a very early age. The kids have yet to be socialized in any way. They just play differently.

    Have you ever attended cub scout meetings and girl scout meetings when the kids are five? The boys just run amuck. The girls are much more social. At the age of five, it's difficult to believe that boys and girls are even part of the same species. I'd be interested in hearing what parents of both genders in here have experienced.

  25. "Sexual favors are always asked for over a lasagna"

    Oh my god. That's hilarious! I loved this post, Stephanie. Btw: I need to be better about not using people's real names in my blog. I always pray that the people in my life have no clue what a blog is.

  26. It’s interesting what people will do for bets. I always learned my lesson from those ‘drinking games’. If you lose the ‘game’ you have to do two, three, four or five shots of this. Needless to say, it had the same results as the guy who threw up under his desk.

    Never again though. We all seem to learn.

    Although, my girlfriend and I still make bets over playing a game of pool. Whoever loses has to 'put out'. We both win. ;)

    Great post!

  27. Funny!

    The whole vending maching bet is soooo male it's not even surprising. And yes, my significant other has asked for more than just food for a bet. Poor T.–I usually win (this explains my extensive shoe collection…)

    I could go on and on about the differences between the sexes, but I'm more concerned that my broker is possibly vomiting under his desk due to a stupid bet rather than doing his job & taking care of my accounts.

  28. I have a friend who works on the trading floor and bet that he could eat 1 cup of wasabi for $1500. He couldn't vomit for like a half hour or something. Guys were all gathered around him, screaming, cheering, jeering, rooting him on. He did it! He won. And he puked but not within the half hour.

    I think betting and challenges are a throw back to jockeying for position in the doggy pack. My two cents!

  29. Hey, that's pretty risky, eating every snack in the snack machine! Whoa! I mean, that doesn't compare in the least to jumping out of a helicopter with an assault rifle and a death wish 300 feet above iraq.

    Still, the shit ya'll civilians do is pretty entertaining. Mad props.

  30. Bets cut through all the b.s. arguing and are fun to boot. I bet my then girlfriend I could hit a tree from 30 yards with a frisbee, she put up her shiny red Acura sportscar, I hit the tree but never collected the car. So I married her :-)

  31. I work at a large bank, and we've done the vending machine bet. Guilty.

    I think it is a standard in every bank.

    I was laughing pretty hard to see this story in print.

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