This week: We eat, drink, smoke, and be merry. The average age of the players is revealed and if there was an over/under bet going on, you’d want to go with the over. New jokes are told; old jokes are told; even older jokes are told. All are enjoyed. Weird candy gets ignored. Poker chips fall apart.
(Game Day: October 17, 2022)
“Base Camp Havlan”
After a long summer of being in various places at various times with various people, the players of the EBPG were finally able to once again gather ’round ye ol’ feltified tabletop of poker playing pleasure.
And what a pleasure it always is.
After a short stint at Cockman’s groovy upper west side digs, the EBPG moved back to the familiar confines of Chez Havlan. But the table was at Cockman’s, so first things first, we had to move it. Cockman volunteered to do it himself, harkening back to his youthful days as a professional mover (though apparently not a shaker). Our 56-year-old friend pretended he was in his 20’s again and carried our heavy-ass, custom-made, oak table down 3 flights of steep, skinny, New York City brownstone steps by himself. Then he strapped that bad boy to the top of his faded red, late model Honda Civic that screams “I’m a public school teacher, but at least I got me a fuckin’ ride!”
Eddie and Cockman were the first to arrive. Freed was next through the door with another massive order from Tony’s Di Napoli. Lord knows how many squid had to die to cover the amount of calamari we ate. The not-oft-seen Angelo Vazeos was next through the door with a 12-pack of awful beer that nobody wanted, and a fine bottle of red wine I asked him to get when he called asking where my apartment was for the umpteenth fucking time. But it was Clay-TON who won the “why the fuck did you bring that?” award, by reaching into his bag and pulling out one of those big-ass Toblerone candy bars. The one-liners soon followed…
Toblerone: For when you don’t want people to ask you for some of your candy.
Toblerone: You don’t like it? Next time, stay at the Ritz.
Toblerone: Three great tastes that somehow taste like shit together.
As for our regular table mate, Joe Mulligan, he was confirmed, but bailed last minute—somethin’ about being sick or not wanting to definitely lose money. I can’t remember.
Shufflin’ and dealin’ happened at 7:45, and the action burst out of the gates like a pack of greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit. Eddie’s ace-high flush lost to Freed’s shitty boat. I think it was 3’s full of who-gives-a-shit. Normally, Dave would need a bigger boat. Not this time.
Angelo took 40 minutes to roll a joint because it’s a lost art…
Or at least, it seemed lost on him.
Turns out he was actually rolling two joints. But the second one ended up with a stem poking through that rendered it close to useless. We used it anyway.
By the way, yes, that’s a ping pong table behind Angelo because that’s how the Havlan/Thomas clan rolls these days. We even rigged up a whole Arthur Ashe Stadium vibe. Come by sometime and play under the lights. Qualifying rounds begin in July ’23.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t play on this night, because soon after taking this picture. as they say in pretty much every documentary about the African savanna, “That’s when the rains came.”
Cockman took a call and didn’t realize he had it on speaker. Total old-man move. I think his phone’s flashlight was on the whole time too. The thing is, he was holding it up to his ear and everything, not even wondering why it sounded weird or why we were all staring at him like we could hear the entire conversation, which, of course, we could. Ask any of us a word of what was actually discussed, however, and you’ll get nothin’ but blank stares.
This game was played the day after the official dropdown day of the one and only Eddie Brill. He turned a whopping 64! It’s a fine milestone for the life-long Beatles fan that he is.
This led to everyone else announcing their age—I’m 58, Freed’s 54, and Cockman is a youthful-looking 56. Freed even said “Ya look good.” And he does. But when actually asked his age, Cockman’s first response was…
I’m gonna be 57.
Like if he gave us the age he actually is at the moment, we wouldn’t be able to figure that out.
So, basically, Cockman tells you how old he is the same way a 4-year-old does.
“I’m gonna be 5.”
That wasn’t the fucking question!
Then Angelo proudly chimed in, having discovered he’s the youngest at the table.
Angelo: I’m 51!
J.R.: Really? You look like shit.
In honor of his own B-day, Eddie recalled the first joke he ever remembers hearing. And it was a solid first joke…
What did Tennessee?
The same thing Arkansas.
Eddie said he read that joke in a very old book he had that was unironically called “Jokes, Riddles, and Boners.”
(I recommend the section on boners, in particular. Solid reading.)
This prompted Freed to tell a joke, and despite not being a comedian, Dave Freed is an excellent joke teller. In fact, I’ll probably screw it up, but no matter. It went something like this…
A woman is at a farm and she says to the farmer “I want to take a milk bath.”
The farmer says, “Sure. You want it pasteurized?”
And the woman says, “No. Just up to my tits.”
I don’t know if it was the effect of one or both of the joints Angelo took forever to roll, but my mind needed a little help interpreting “pasteurized” as “past your eyes.” Then, and only then, did I laugh.
It’s been noted for the past several games that our OG EBPG poker chips, purchased long ago by Weeeyum “Stevie” Stephenson himself, are falling apart like a prison wall at Shawshank.
We’ll save a few of them for nostalgia’s sake, but we’re in the market for new ones that will ultimately sport the initials WS/VH in honor of our fallen comrades, William and Vic. Hopefully, I’ll have a pic of those in the next Hammadown.
Somebody at the table basically out of nowhere:
“Of all the famous sex offenders, Bill Cosby is still my favorite.”
At one point in the middle of the session, Clay-TON—ever the professional card player—took time to count the cards in each deck. As if either of the decks would come up short and we’d find the ace of spades in somebody’s shirt sleeve.
I (J.R.) was heads-up against Eddie who was clearly going high, which he did. But I went both, and beat his trips with a low straight. Sweepy McSweetPot. Sure is nice when it works.
(Time of “both”: 10:38)
BUT… I got greedy and went for the rare “back-to-back boths.” Everyone else went high again, but the one they call Clay-TON had a higher flush than I and Sweepy Swept his own McSweetPot.
BUT BUT… my woes were short-lived, as, soon after that, I pulled the second best possible hand in poker—a straight flush to the King—and took another trip to Big Pot Candy Mountain.
Pretty to look at.
Lovely to hold.
(Small: 5 cards, all up. Big: 7 cards, all up)
SMALL: Freed stole it on the last card pulling his second two low pairs to best Angelo’s early queens.
BIG: Skinny-Cockman went home a little heavier than when he showed up after getting two pair on his last 4 cards. Maybe he can get his Honda Civic painted now.
Until next time, y’all.
(The Hammadown is an Efrem Zimbalist Jr. production.)