STUD was always the game of choice. Some variation of the game would make up about 90% of the games, as we rotated Dealer's choice. Simple 7-Card, probably took up about 75% of the game in total. A group of six of us made up the core. There were four others that rotated in and out on a weekly basis but, the core was a dedicated crew. The others served as occasional filler for games here and there, only making the trek to the cabin when the urge suddenly hit them to play.
"Stumpy," was one of my best friends, before all of the dope issues. Trust me, there was absoloutely nothing 'performance enhancing' about his drugs of choice! Unfortunately yes, that does read "was." The Stumpster's body finally succumbed to the years of abuse he had put it through. At the ripe old age of 36.
"Gilly" was a real country bumpkin. His nickname was a natch, once you got the chance to meet him in person. "Y-Y-Y-Yo-You g-g-g-g-gonna' eat all that?" One helluva' man though and probably the best pure STUD player I'd ever come across in my days. His keen ability to have total focus on every action at the table, is something I have tried to emulate my entire life. Yeah you read that right. "best pure STUD player I'd ever come across." Gilly was taken in an avalanche while climbing just outside of Whistler, back in 1993.
"Kegs" was never the greatest player of the game but having him around, always made for a better night. His humour, his ability to pound back the beer and his shear love for being around the group of us that he loved, always showed themselves no matter what the occasion. But on Poker nights when this man would bare his soul, it made every single one of them truly incredible. I heard that Kegs was killed by a drunk driver back in '97. The same driver that he trusted to take him home safely that night. The very same driver that had said Kegs, "had too much to drink." The driver that took the lives of four others that night.
"Wilbur" also came by his name honestly. The man a was pure and utter Pig! Not in the dirty, rollin' around in the mud Pigpen sorta Charles Schultz kinda way, but in the foul mouthed, treatin' women bad and using them up on a weekly basis kind of way. He played STUD in more way's than one, if you get my drift. Wilbur passed in 2000. At the hands of a thief in another man's home. With that other mans Wife. They were both shot for the approximately $105 worth of jewelry the thief managed to find for his booty.
"Said" earned his nickname from being the quote master. I don't know if any of you out there know anyone like Said, but he had one for any and every occasion. Pot's would be drug in and Said had something to say. The door would open or the wind would blow through the mountain cabin in just that certain way, Said would come up with the appropriate comment from a movie, song or other famous quip. Said was also the oldest in the group. The Patriarch of the bunch, I guess you'd say. I found out through a mutual friend getting his Sister in touch with me and quite by accident, that Said passed away last week due to a heart attack. Hard to believe actually, Said had one of the biggest hearts I'd ever come across. Giving when needed and giving more, when he thought it was the right thing to do.
An hour or so ago......... I found out the truth.
That leaves yours truly, the last of the original six from days gone by.
The last of a group that made today's little Poker get-togethers, look like something that needs to be made for TV. We were dedicated to surrounding each other with..... well..... with each other. One night a week no matter what, the six of us each knew where everyone in the group was going to be. Together!
It's an odd feeling really. It's not like we stayed in touch over the last 15 years or so. But the memories of the eight or nine years we were inseparable, come flooding in at a time like this. I can see each and every one of their faces as clearly now, as I could when we met at the cabin for a little game of chance.
One game in particular makes me smile in a time of realization about my own mortality, as five friends have passed before me. Not because of a big win or loss, and not because of a single hand that was played the entire night. It's because of being snowed into that cabin, on a very cold and blowing February evening.
There were two additional players from the stragglers that wandered in and out of our game, but don't ask me to name names. I couldn't tell you who the hell they were! They left the game quite early as I remember, worried about the weather ahead and the probability of being snowed in. The "core" as it were, had no issue with waiting out the storm and heading back to town in the morning. We lowered the stakes accordingly, (as to not cause anyone to be busted, when we'd be playing for so long)and played on and on through the night. The typical conversation at the table turned from, "you're an idiot" and "what the hell?" to stories about ourselves and our families, courtesy of a Gilly classic, "Y-Y-Y-You know......... Y-Y-Y-You assholes....are-are-are- about as clo, uh clo, uh close to family as I'd ever want!"
We had spent close to seven years playing together at least once a week, every single week. But we learned more about who each and every one of us really was, on that one snowy and cold evening in the cabin. All walls were broken down, all barriers removed. Each of us was fair game and the banter was completely priceless and totally un-believable, to those that didn't take part.
I've always tried to put into words, how that trip to the cabin felt for me personally. It just never comes out the way I think it should do.
We finished that game on Sunday around 6:00pm. Our games at the cabin, always started on Friday's around 8:00pm. We literally sat at that Poker table for about 46 hours straight. Sometimes we played us some STUD, sometimes we opened our souls to each other for judgement. Occasionally judgement was delivered with a pain that shall always be reserved, for only the truest of friends. Most times however, judgement was nothing more than howling laughter that meant nothing more than, "I hear you my friend. I so hear you!"
God's speed my friends.
And just for you Said...........
"Thanks for the memories!"
My sincerest thanks for dropping by....