The Rooster is a cagey character. The table was breakable plastic. The cards were sticky. Bobby Bracelet was using a pack of "I love my penis" matches as his card protector. Mike seemed increasingly angry at the deck and the way it attacked his stack in retribution for his only buying in for $70. Helixx smiled. BadBlood tried not to flex. John kept asking how many cards he could use. Steve talked about massage parlors. "Not like I know or anything," he said. Spaceman came over later after busting out of the NL game. Twice, I think.
Our game was HORSE. And The Rooster, as I said, was a cagey character.
"Just keep the money off the table," Al had said as he spun in frantic circles from band stage to poker game making sure everyone was happy, everyone was getting drunk, and everyone would at least have the briefest of opportunities to confirm Bobby Bracelet's junk.
I was comfortable from the start of the game. I'd played with several of the guys before, and the others fell into a familiar rhythm quickly. And it was only because The Rooster check-raised me early in the game that I vowed to keep an eye on him.
Something about him was cagey, and I wasn't sure I liked it one bit. Early in the game, as he pecked away at the others stacks, I decided to look him up once. And I saw, he didn't have as many eggs in his basket as he'd been counting on or representing. Cagey, indeed.
"The upstairs bar opens at 4pm," Al said and disapeared again in a cloud of smoke and goodwill.
I stood and climbed the Boathouse outdoor stairs. At the bar, Steve stood with two beers and some money in his hand. Al sat at the bar with a shot of Soco in front of him.
I only mention the moment because it was the beginning. Not the beginning where Eva, princess to us all, picked me up at the airport and took me to Delaware for cheese steaks. Not the beginning where she drove me around listening to the Gourds and waiting on BadBlood. Not the beginning where I sat down with The Rooster and the rest of the fowl. But the beginning where I started drinking.
Steve, who had offered to by the first round, walked away with the money and his drinks in his hand muttering something about "being first in line and getting pushed to the back." That's what happens around here, it seems.
There have been nights like this in my drinking career, but none I think I enjoyed quite as much. If I were Hunter Thompson, I would make up the things that happened in between the memories and make them sound like I was in control the entire time. However, since I've learned there is both photographic and video evidence to the contrary, I'll just leave those parts out and settle on the highlights.
---- Me: "There is a better than reasonable chance I'm going to fall in love with the lead singer of the band at some point this evening." Someone please e-mail me and tell me if I ever did and, if so, did I ever express it?
---- Big Mike, the most generous man I have ever met, refusing to let me pay for a drink, but at the same time, being understanding enough to let me put as much as I cared to toward the bar staff and charity.
---- Eva has a tattoo
---- Bobby Bracelet is the hardest working man in all of junk confirming. I have never seen such diligence. It was as though if he was not thrice confirmed by sun up, children would die. He really took one for the team this weekend.
---- Me: "What are you guys doing?"
Bloggers: "Paying this girl money to see her boobs."
Me: "All of her boobs or just a portion of her boobs?"
Blogger #1: "She has a really nice bra."
Blogger #2: "Trust me, it's worth it."
Me: "Will ten bucks cover it?"
---- Girl: "Could I get through here?"
Me: "Give me just a second okay?"
Girl: Says something rude and unintelligible
Me: "If you could get through here, what would you want?"
Girl: "A Coors Light."
Moments later, when I have ordered the girl a Coors Light, she is gone. I find her five minutes later.
Me: "You know, I bought you a Coors Light."
Girl: "I see that. (Pause) Can I have it?"
Me: "Um...I don't think so." (Walks off drinking the beer)
Boom shot in from the outside of the bar, rising up above Lewey Hill, through the back entrance, across the hardwood deck, and to the bar. Otis, BadBoood, Big Mike, Al, and Eva are spread out around the bar as Mike writes a check to the Boathouse and makes a joke about it bouncing.
Suddenly, Otis is aware of his surroundings again. He's not sure how long it has been since he was not. All he knows is that someone is talking about the Borgata and his having won a free weekend there.
Otis: "I won what?"
Indeed, it was that kind of night.
How did this happen? Well, it happed because of Al, Eva, and Big Mike. You don't know party hosts until you've met these people.
That's the main reason. But there is another reason. And he's cagey.
The game was seven stud. I had TJ/Q on the deal. The Rooster was being aggressive, asserting his cocksure attitude around the table.
Something in my soul told me that this was my hand. Something told me the three card straight would turn into something good. No matter what The Rooster did, I was going to snuff it.
By fifth street, a nine and king had fallen. I was good. Five cards, one straight. The battle between the Rooster and me would soon be over, I thought. Looking at his cards, looking at his face, remembering his betting patterns, I knew one thing. He needed his river card to beat me.
When the river hit, he looked. BadBlood saw it as well as I did. Even when he checked, I didn't believe it. I still put out my bet and called his check-raise.
"You boated up on me on the river, didn't you?" I said.
The Rooster looked up and smiled. "I boated up on you on the river," turning over his hole cards to show the full house.
I stood for a couple of seconds and walked around the deck for a few minutes. The Rooster was a better player than I remembered. His game was more aggressive than I remembered. Even that stroke of luck on the river didn't make him seem lucky. He was, in short, good. And it was me, frankly, who got lucky catching the straight in five cards.
I walked back over to the table and realized that I couldn't play cards any more.
And so, then, friends, I went and got drunk.
Thanks to Al, Eva, Big Mike, and all the folks at the Boathouse for making it a helluva 24 hour run.
I'm going to need a few weeks to recover and a lot of help remembering it all.