But even with the odds blatantly arranged in his favor, Napoleon was still a sore loser. On the rare occasion that he still got on a losing streak, or when his cheating ways were called out by family (whom he couldn't order to shut up), he'd sullenly stomp away from the table and lock himself away like a fucking child. We're surprised that our sources don't later describe him coming back to blow up the gaming table and declare himself Emperor of the Smoldering Embers.
He wasn't a complete bastard, though. If he had a particularly successful run, he would divide his winnings between the players at the table. It wasn't as noble as, say, giving all of the winnings back to the dealers he cheated them from, but as he liked to remind his noble guests: "You are rich, you can afford to lose, but I am poor and must win." You don't become an emperor for the money.
Nikola Tesla Skipped Out On A Hotel Room Using A Fake Death Ray
It's fair to say that popular culture has kinda typecast Nikola Tesla as a tortured genius, unappreciated in his own time but now proudly honored on nerdy T-shirts everywhere. His incredible intellect didn't leave much room for worldliness, which left him a victim of trickery several times over. But don't be fooled -- Tesla was capable of being a wily bastard himself when he needed to be. And when was that? Whenever he was asked to pay a hotel bill.
As we've mentioned before, Tesla had a habit of taking over rooms in New York's finest hotels and covering them in pigeon poop. One such establishment to suffer this treatment was the Governor Clinton Hotel. When the time came for the hotel to collect from their guest, he had little to offer, being, y'know, a famously deadbeat inventor. So he made them a deal. If they let him live there a little longer, he'd give them an amazing piece of collateral: a never-before-seen invention worth $10,000. The only stipulation was that they never open it, "it" being incredibly dangerous. The device was so dangerous, in fact, that it could zap entire armies to death with a press of the button. It wasn't a death ray -- that would be silly. According to Tesla, it was more of a "death beam," if anything. Sure, Tesla, it's the "ray" part of the name that gives that weapon a bad rap.
The hotel immediately jumped on the offer, because what establishment hosting dozens of sleeping guests wouldn't want a deadly superweapon in their break room? When the deal had been struck, Tesla hightailed it out of the hotel, never to return. The invention was tucked away inside the Governor Clinton and all but forgotten. Then, when Tesla died in 1943, someone remembered his spare death beam was still in their basement. They also remembered his dire warning and, realizing that the only man able to disarm it was dead, went into a bit of a panic. The hotel called MIT and the NDRC, who sent over their best man, John "The One Who Got All The Brains" Trump, to look it over. The brave Trump (first and last time you'll ever read that) opened Tesla's box, but instead of being blown away by an experimental death beam, all he found were some useless electrical components Tesla had left in there. It was a ruse, the equivalent of sticking a banana in your pocket and holding up a bank. And it worked. It's one those the hidden benefits of being a crazy genius, we suppose. Say you have a death ray in your pocket, and people tend to believe you.
Sorry, sorry, death beam.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a newsletter about depressing history, if you're into that sort of thing.
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