10:30 p.m. Saturday night
April 15th was a bit on the rainy side, but that didn’t change anything about the weekly poker game that John and the boys had every other Saturday night. Being the only unmarried / girlfriend-less guy in the group, John had the luxury of hosting the game most of the time. Unfortunately, he was also the only odd man out in the “couples’ night”. “Couples’ night” was such an unfortunate title for this particular variation of the poker game. “Couples’ night” was the one Saturday, every three months or so, where the boys would alternate homes so their wives/girlfriends, and, frequently, annoying kids, would join in on the fun.
John hated “couples’ night”.
Although John rarely came with a date, due to whatever last minute reason the girl, if any, would give him, it always seemed like one or more of the wives/girlfriends would coincidentally have a single friend there. John never really knew if this plot was devised by the wives/girlfriends or the other guys. It never really mattered because there were rarely any sparks. Most of the time, the girls seemed like lonely cat women, or overly talkative about their jobs or just themselves in general.
10:30 p.m. Saturday night
The rain hadn’t changed anything about the monthly “alternating houses” poker game.
The tradition dated back 20 years. Starting the summer after high school graduation, these guys maintained the honored tradition today.
20 years ago was different for all of them.
Each “man” was still living with his parents, which made “adulthood” a bit less free than expected. Beer and cigars were allowed in all but Paul’s house. When Paul’s (parents’) place was the spot, each “man” snuck pints of whatever in their pockets, carrying in 12 packs of soda and bags of chips to distract from the contraband.
Back then, time allotted for game play varied from basement to basement. While one set of parents may have partied along with them if invited (they never were), another set were easily irritated by the ruckus of drunken young “adults” cursing and belching there Saturday nights into their trashcans.
“Don’t any of you date?,” Martha Salavisky asked her son, Brett, one Saturday afternoon. Brett lost his driver’s license for the 2nd time in 2 years in March, so he depended on Martha to drive him around when she was available.
Today was grocery day. Brett was also preparing snack options for his hosting.
“I mean,” Martha continued, “there are plenty of girls out there waiting for some bright…,” Martha paused as she watched her son open a can of Planter’s Cheeseballs, take one out of the can, eat it, make a semi-satisfied face followed by shoulder shrug, and proceed to put the can back on the shelf, “…-ish young guys to ask them out on the town. You don’t really plan on doing all this ranting and raving forever?”
This talking point would arise everything their turn in the rotation rolled around. Although her son’s lack of social, emotional, and professional aspiration was a major concern for Martha, it didn’t prevent her from helping Brett purchase (aka buying it all on her own) the standard poker night menu: 3 cases of Schmidt’s beer, 1 bag of pretzels, 1 can of shoestrings, 1 can of cheese balls (she pulled the already opened can back off the shelf and pulled another can along with it to keep her actions somewhat discreet), 1 bag of generic (but delicious) local brand corn chips, 3 pounds of cold cuts (1 pound of each: turkey, ham, and roast beef), white bread, mild cheddar cheese slices, American cheese slices, 1 bag of peppermints (“to cover the beer breath,” Martha would tell the boys as they left), and 1 case of ginger ale.
Along with the all the legal items (with exception to beer at while the boys were still in their teens) brought to the games, someone always snuck the “wizardry” in.
“Wizardry” first showed up on the scene at John’s 16th birthday party. His older brother, Scott, came back for the family party and brought what he described as “the shit” to his younger brother. “The shit” was wrapped up like a mummy cigarette. It was misshapen and thin, but “powerful as hell, lil bro.”
“Wizardry” was coined when Scott presented John with this joint by waving it as a magic wand to cast a spell.
“I cast this spell of wizardry,” Scott said in a voice that imitated an old man’s crackly voice, “upon you today, my brother. May your whiffs of wizardry always bring magic to your life.”
This was followed by fits of laughter every time John reenacted the moment with his friends.
By rule, “wizardry” was only smoked outside and after the parents went to bed. Each host provided cologne / after shave (whatever was available) to each “wizard” prior to reentering the house.
The one exception to this rule was at Bill’s house. Larry Norink, Bill’s dad, lived alone. He had custodial rights every other weekend. Bill was an active bachelor. When the rotation turned to Larry’s house, he always joined in for a few hands at some point in the evening. He also joined in on what Larry called “a lil’ jointage” when the boys decided to “spark one.”
Amongst the many perks of keg beer, whiskey shots, and late night breakfasts made up by Larry’s roommate, Chuck (aka “the Chuckster”), Larry provided “the veggies.”
“Why eat your greens,” Larry would propose to the boys, “when you can inhale them directly into the bloodstream. Saves more room for the good food.”
Larry referred to his magic flower as “one-hitter-quitter shit.”
“Any other weed is just uncivilized,” Larry would say while exhaling a dragon’s cloud of smoke.
Bill held a grudge towards his dad for a long time during his middle-school years. He felt that his dad put weed before his mom. Bill’s mom filled his head with many horror stories of the “wacky weed” and tales of his “deadbeat pothead of a father” not providing enough for their (aka her lavish) lifestyle.
It wasn’t until Bill came home reeking of weed while staying at his dad’s house during Bill’s sophomore year of high school. Instead of giving lecturing his son, Larry left a joint sitting out in the bathroom for Bill to discover. This “sparked” (Bill would later joke) the father-son bond that may not have occurred if Larry brow beat his son hypocritically.
When the boys played cards at Larry’s, they were required to turn their keys into him. Larry would put them in his bedroom safe. There was no reason leave the haven that allowed anything anyway. When Bill turned 19 and was leaving for college, Larry “employed” two “dancers” to join and add to the ambience of their final poker game prior to “true adulthood”. According to the boys, “true adulthood” only began after the post high school summer ended. There were exceptions to this rule for many, but this was an agreed upon rule amongst them.
Paul never had any kind of female contact before, other than taking a beating from one of his older sisters or hugging his mom.
The strippers changed Paul’s life that night.
No one really had any ida that Paul was the extent of virgin that he proved to them that night. all the guys swore that Paul’s two-year relationship with Beatrice would have voided that theory. Even a ball fondling would have been sufficient for Paul to prove his manhood, but to no avail.
Due to this lack of female contact, due to the performance of Larry’s strippers, and due to Paul’s loose, slightly drunken mood, Paul spent the following morning cleaning Larry’s basement floors, walls, and “wherever the hell else you jizzed on you blue-balled fucker” (Larry).
Later in life, Paul would visit many strip clubs. He most frequently attended these “vice dens” (Paul’s mom) after passing fine line of drunkenness to “whiskey dickedness.” In order to prepare for potential female contact and/or conversation, Paul would drink to excess in order to numb himself from his self-predicted failures and denials. By the time he “rounded up the nerve” to ask for a lap dance, he would usually last 3 minutes before passing out or being kicked out for being “too fucking creepy”.
Larry’s strippers were, what he referred to as, “100% prime”.
The performances given by Larry’s strippers that night were “jaw-dropping” (John). While each of the others were doing everything to keep their mouths from hitting the floor, Paul’s “unborn children” (Larry) spilled out the legs of his shorts and flowed smoothly down the legs of his barstool into the carpet. As he stood up, he shot again. This time, a splash hit Mona – Larry’s favorite stripper and personal fashion consultant – on her disfigured left nipple.
Mona’s nipple deformation, which resembled a gargoyle mouth, was the result of a botched breast implant surgery near Costa Rica. Since Larry was paying for it, he told her that he “knew a guy from high school who moved to Central America and became a plastic surgeon,” and it would be just as good, “if not better,” than anywhere in these “capitalist pig motherfucker hospital doctors.”
As Paul’s loins dripped from the mouth of Mona’s gargoyle nipple, the others screamed and ran away from the “shooter”. Paul would later be dubbed the “stool shooter” — a nod to the furniture Paul sat upon when it all went down.
As Mona stood up, her professional demeanor calmed the room when she walked over to Paul, put his head in her hands, looked in his eyes and, in motherly fashion, said, “Awwwwwww. It’s ok, sweetie. This stuff happens all the time. At least you liked my moves.”
Of course, Paul, red-faced and avoiding eye contact, surveyed the ground to see the mess he projected onto the floor. The area surrounding his zipper was moist and spreading outward. He felt a warm gluey drip down his left quad. He felt another drip gathering the fold of his scrotum. For a moment, it looked like Paul was gong to do one of two things: cry or thrown violent tantrum.
The rest of the crowd sat in slight , but not completely unexpected, awe at what they were watching. Larry wanted to laugh and crack a joke, but unsure if he felt like taking what he frequently referred to as a “Mississippi ass whooping.”
Larry was not from Mississippi nor did he personally know anyone from Mississippi. When asked what the difference was between an “ass whooping” in Mississippi than anywhere else, Larry would just chuckle and say “it just sounds good”.
To be continued… (1/10/20 revisions)
10:30 p.m. Saturday Night
It didn’t change anything about the weekly poker game that John and company held at alternate houses each time. This was a tradition that dated back seven years prior, the summer after they graduated from high school. Back then, it was different because they all were still living with their parents, so things were a little … different.
There was enough beer swillin’ and See-Gar (cigar) smokin’ in John’s parents’ basement to fool any non-suspecting visitor into thinking he/she walked into an actual tavern if they walked in through the outside door leading into the basement. Occasionally someone would bring out a funny cigarette ONLY to be smoked inside if the parental unit was out of town.
Once again…different times.
These days, all the guys live on their own – single, married, divorced, widowed, etc. – with freedom to do whatever the hell they wanted.
Most of the guy nights included most, if not a close variation, of the following vices of debauch: McCormick blended whiskey on the rocks or, most of the time, straight outta the bottle; faint whiffs of wizardry; pizza ordering into the weeee hours o’ the morning; girls (mainly tall tales of damsels past); and laughter. Always gut grasping, tear shedding, nearly pass out from lack of oxygen, laughter.
( First draft 1996(?). This is a piece of a piece of a short story. I assume that I was attempting to put this into movie script form just from looking at the “10:30 p.m. Saturday Night” title(?). The following piece is the first rewrite in 20 years.)