Last Friday, I was sitting in the San Jose airport waiting for a flight to Vegas (wedding-location scouting trip, not degenerate gambling trip) and was checking email on the phone. As I was reading this one, the smile and then laughter gave away who it was from – Jason looked over and said “Must be an email from Scott”.
It started off innocently enough. My old poker buddies were getting together for a night of light drinking and bullshitting. This game ran for 8 years but this is the first time in 2 years we have been in the same room at the same time. For almost 15 years we have all been drinking and partying together and I would put the 14 of us in our prime against any fraternity on campus today or any day in history.
To put it short and sweet we fuck shit up.
We are all older and with the exception of two of us we all are married and have multiple children. It is safe to say that these days we are just older thirty-something’s that have turned in our “rager” cards for Spongebob and Dora the Explorer pajamas and Honor roll bumper stickers. We are past our prime for sure.
We met up at my friend Bryan’s house as his wife and kids had left to go on vacation in San Antonio. It was pretty tame with us passing around pictures of the kids to each other and talking about the upcoming school year. Bryan showed us around his house and we were all happy to see his lifelong dream of having a fully functional bar complete with beer taps has come to fruition. It was a very pretty oak and brass bar with enough room to seat 8 comfortably or 14 really close friends. The Dos Equis started flowing from his fresh Keg that he had gotten just that morning, I remember joking about how it was only 6:30PM and that normally I am making chicken nuggets at this time. We all laughed and traded the same story with a different kids food as the punch line.
After 30 minutes, two beers and a shot of patron for everyone we sat down to play some poker. I have not tossed a card in the air live for over a year and about the same online. Poker has taken a backseat to golf and kids for me. We shot the shit for close to 2 hours while we played and there was no shortage of beer drinking around the table. At some point 4 pizzas showed up and with 14 hungry full grown American males it didn’t last long. I was failed to get a slice as did my old roommate David because we were busy pissing in Bryans water feature in his back yard. While we drained our bladders David mentioned that he felt a little drunk. No worries the game will last a while and he has plenty of time to sober up.
9:00PM and John came in to tell Bryan that there is something wrong with his beer tap. Beer was not coming out and it was making a weird noise. The Keg was floated…
1920 oz in a fresh keg, we are drinking out of 16 oz cups 1920 / 16 = 120 beers / 14 guys. Hmm 8 and a half beers per guy, yeah that sounds right. “Bryan what else you got to drink around this place?” Back in the day Bryan was notorious for his ability to consume brown liquor. Later on in his 20’s he switched to Vodka and could make an old Russian Grandpa proud with his ability to down the stuff. Bryan had no liquor beyond 2 bottles of Patron one of which was close to empty already.
A light bulb came into Bryan’s head. His wife had several bottles of wine that she brought back from the Hill Country on a girls only retreat. They had been sitting in the box she bought them in for over a year and thought this was a great time to break them open. Our Plastic beer cups became wine glasses and we finished playing our first tournament. The wine lasted less than an hour and barely gave everyone more than two cups.
By 10:30PM we were pretty much out of booze in the house so a small group us ventured out to the corner store for a good old fashioned beer run. Back in the old days everyone would toss in some money and we would head down and get a 18 pack of Natty-Light. We are now older, wiser, more refined and have more money. We bought 3 cases of beer and regardless of our current stations in life we automatically picked Natty as if it was just old habits coming back.
Now back at the house the game at deteriorated into a bastardized form of poker where pots were not decided by the cards but by prison rules and ridiculous side bets to determine who was going to drag the pot. I personally drug a $75 pot across the table only to be challenged by the loser in the hand with a proposition. His claim was that he can pull a bong hit, take 2 shots of patron and then exhale… The game came to a halt as it took me all of 3 seconds to accept the challenge.
We poured out onto the back patio eagerly awaiting the outcome of this bold claim. A bong was produced as if out of thin air and when the group was queried with “who’s holding” 5 bags ranging in size and quality hit the patio table.
Side note: While we all smoked weed at one point in college it was never a large group thing. Our clique is a varied cadre of Repubs and Libs, tight asses and free spirits, straight laced captains of industry and lowly waiters. As the bags hit the table the laughter hit the air. We all have gotten old, settled down, had kids and started smoking weed instead of going out nightly to get wasted at bars. It was the most exciting news of the night.
Bong loaded. shots poured. challenge starting. My friend had chosen some shit recently purchased in Colorado and I must admit the smell alone was enough to make me crave ice cream. Fired up, he drew in a deep breath and downed the first shot. As he was reaching for number two his face turned green and a stream of purple-ish yellow-ish tinted puke exploded from his head and onto 2 bystanders. The night was picking up.
As we closed in on 1AM, poker had pretty much been abandoned. We were now throwing dice on the back yard table and passing smoke around to everyone. We were all drunk and while a few of us had fallen off or gone home a good core of 8 of us were still alive and kicking. We started one upping each other on stories and braggadocios claims of manliness in our new lives as parents. The amount of urination taking place on the back yard plants was epic. I am not really clear on how it happened but someone started the conversation about how it would be cool to go to Louisiana to gamble the rest of the night. The idea initially had steam but tapered off as we calculated the math on time traveled to get there and back, play cards, and come back to broken marriages and no visitation rights. The numbers just didn’t add up in the risk versus reward category but while the light of this dream was dimmed it was still burning. Our friend Chris happened to mention that he not only has a pilots license but he also owns his own plane. He is an avid private pilot and would love to fly us to Louisiana if we were really serious they only rule was no horseplay in the plane. While we initially scoffed at this offer after another round of tokes it became clear we were headed to the airport.
Only 5 of us were brave enough to make the trip to the Austin Executive Airport at 2:45 in the morning. During the drive several challenges were laid down and one was accepted. Chris claimed that he was going to make us puke within one hour of the flight taking off. Chris got the plane stuff done ( I am sure that is not the technical term ) and in no time we were buckling in. I do not know the type of plane we were in but it had room for 6 passengers and 2 crew members (pilots seats). Chris offered me a front seat and I was close to accepting when he mentioned that it would have the best view if we ended up crashing the plane. I took a back seat and settled in next to my buddy Dave and his pocket vaporizer. We filled up a balloon and both took quality tugs as the plane taxied towards the runway.
The plane was small. It was getting smaller as we pulled further away from his hangar. It got reallllllly small as he powered up for takeoff and by the time we pulled up it felt like I was wearing a t-shirt that I had stolen from my son. I was happy to know I was not the only one now completely scarred stiff. With the exception of Chris we were all pretty much crying lumps of slovenly drunk babies. I personally was praying for the first time in 25 years openly and loudly. Bryan immediately puked as Chris banked the plane into a turn and the whiff of beer, wine, tequila and pepperoni pizza filled the cabin. This was quite possibly my last moments on earth and all I could think about was that my kids would know their Dad died in a very stupid way. I snapped from my fear coma when I heard Chris mention the words engine, and crash within the same sentence. Chris was of course joking, the plane was not going to crash but he was also well aware there was no way we were going to make it to Louisiana either. He kindly turned the plane around and a mere 25 minutes from the time we took off we were safely back on terra firma. Upon debarking the cabin I promptly fell to the ground puking violently while sobbing gently. We headed back to Bryans house without saying much to each other. I left almost immediately after telling everyone we needed to do this again real soon. Once the echoes of my friends telling me to fuck off and die faded I drove home slightly drunk, little more stoned, extremely tired and covered in my own vomit. I walked in around 5:30 this morning, stripped naked, climbed into a running shower and passed out until 6:45 this morning when my wife found me and reminded me that she is leaving for a week at 8AM AND I have my sons parents meeting with his new teacher today.
I am currently nursing a F5 level hang over.