Poker Story

Hammadown: A Hamma Farewell

By December 9, 2019 January 27th, 2020 No Comments

Welcome to the maiden re-voyage of “The Hammadown”, a humorous-to-hilarious recap of the Eddie Brill Poker Game originally written by William Whitfield Stephenson III who recently jumped off this spinning rock we call home.
In this edition we bid an epic farewell to our friend with music, merriment, and more food than should be legally aloud at any size gathering. Then, the players play while semi-watching the completely-shitty “Super” Bowl and discussing possible future plans for Bootsy Collins…

(Game Day: February 3, 2019)

The previous day had brought us all a mixture of joy and sadness, but mainly joy, but also sadness, though it was mixed with joy. It was Saturday, February 2nd, the day friends and family and people who simply didn’t know that William never actually liked them, gathered to say goodbye to our beloved brother-man. The celebration of his life, like a coat laying on the floor, was off the hook. Funky music was played, slow-cooked meats were consumed, amusing stories were shared, and perhaps most memorable of all, the day came to a close with a bliss-filled William-family-dominated Soul Train line that was strolled by all with more funky moves than you could expect to find in even the brand-newest of Papa’s bags.

Slightly earlier in the evening, Eddie “Shrinking Man” Brill, led off some toasty toasts. He lamented the loss of his great friend and pointed out that, as had been the case for the past 30 years, William still had a set of his apartment keys “and now I don’t know where they are!” William’s sister, Roxanne, took the mic as if she’d done it a million times before and spoke of a brother who “did what he loved” before expressing the family’s joy at being able to come and see for themselves the love and respect her brother received from his peers. Henriette Mantel shared her memory of the early days in D.C. when she and Weee actually preferred to perform in clubs where they knew they would bomb. Sooo… all of them?  😉 Ted Alexandro explained the feeling you get when William personally “passed you”, which was much harder and far more satisfying than simply getting passed at any old comedy club. Dave Chappelle (you read that right) flew in that morning to pay his respects, speak on the importance of community, and recall that William was not only a kind mentor to him, but also “never tried to touch my dick like all the others”. Then he flew home that same night.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

A video of select W.S. highlights was shown, and your’s truly closed it out with a final round of applause for the master of master’s of ceremony done “The William Way” – from the softest of claps (“Sounds like bacon fryin!”) to the loudest of hand-smackin’, which, at its crescendo, led seamlessly into “The Jam” by Graham Central Station followed quickly by “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by you-know-who-or-you-didn’t-damn-well-belong-there!

It was all hopefully just as William Whitfield Stephenson III would have wanted it.

Goodnight, bittersweet prince.

“We return you now to the “First Annual William Stephenson Memorial Poker Game” in progress the very next day.”

##########

We began the night with a round of a game William used to deal frequently in which black 5’s and black 10’s are wild. Before this night, the game was known as “Harlem Five and Dime,” but it will now and forevermore be known as “Weeeyum”. I can’t remember all the details of that round, but safe to say I won most of the hands. (BOOM!)

Weed was smoked, you know… because HE would have wanted it that way. We also re-filled our already pre-filled bellies with ribs and brisket and mac and cheese that somehow found its way into a cab with me after the previous day’s festivities.

We laughed. 
A lot. 
At what, you ask?

Oldies but goodies such as silly titles and taglines for shows that exist only in our minds…

  • Lady Cop: She’s a lady first, but first… she’s a cop
  • Human Resources: This time it’s personnel

Pat told a very well-received story about his uncle on his mother’s side who, on his deathbed, said, and I quote, “If my tractor goes to anyone outside my family, I WILL come back to haunt you.” And he was very serious.
Anyway, we’re now 99% sure this is the person from whom Pat adopted most of his political opinions.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT… IMHO.
Vic launched into a story, as Vic is often wont to do, and as usual, it was a doozy.
Seems he knows a relatively legendary DJ in Cincinnati by the name of Eddie Fingers – of the Cincinnati Fingers, I assume. Well, Mr. Fingers (if you’re nasty) has a friend who lives in the same neighborhood as none other than Bootsy Collins. Yes, that Bootsy Collins. Do you know another Bootsy Collins? Anyway, it seems that although Bootsy is still entirely capable of holdin’ down the funk, he is also, as it turns out, quite fond of gardening. 
Not “playing the bass in the garden”. 
Not “gardening with a shovel that looks like a bass”. 
Just… gardening.
So much so that it’s apparently not uncommon at all for this Eddie Fingers character to be driving to his friend’s house only to look up and see Mr. Collins, dressed in uncharacteristically non-sparkly clothes and wearing a simple doo-rag in place of his normally signature sequined top hat, mowing his lawn or otherwise tending to his apparently suburbanest of dreamscapes.

The image amused us greatly and set us upon a course of increasingly terrible (or were they brilliant?!) impressions of “Bootzilla” starring in what we fancied would be his hit HGTV show, “The Bootsy Collins Gardening Hour, Baby!”

  • “This is Bootsy, baby! Here to remind you not to overwater those azaleas!”
  • “You simply can not grow healthy vegetables without nutrient rich soil, baby! Bootsy has spoken!”
  • “Listen to Bootsy, baby! You got to scatter those bulbs if you want a natural look come Springtime!”

And so on, and so on, etc., etc., laugh-a-lot, laugh-a-lot.

** FUN FACT: Bootsy Collins’ real first name is William. **

Random table chatter:
J.R.: Straight to the jack.
Cockman: Flush.
J.R.: I finally understand why William didn’t like you.

Since it also happened to be Far-Less-Than-Super Bowl Sunday, we took breaks to watch the shitty game that none of us except Boston-raised Cockman gave a shit about. As such, we were also subjected to a parade of marathon-length sappy-ass commercials that routinely had us all thinking we were about to be exposed to a new breakthrough cancer treatment, until the very end when we would find out it was just an ad for Chapstick or some shit like that. 

What the fuck, Chapstick?!… or some shit like that.

We all enjoyed Gladys Knight’s National Anthem despite the automatic “Kaepernick Disrespect” that goes along with it, but we skipped the Moron 5 halftime show because… you know… because! You really need a specific reason? We played more poker instead.

More weed was smoked. More meats were eaten. Hell, somebody even ordered a pizza! And yes, it was descended upon with ravenous glee even though every bite had to fight its way through several blocks of barely chewed meat-stuff just to get to the even larger chunk of hardly-chewed meat-stuff that was checking I.D.’s at our stomachs. Gross, but true.

Much to what would have been Williams shock and delight, there was very little cell phone usage at the table. The very thing (among other things) that made him tire of our weekly gatherings was a non-factor on this particular occasion. Perhaps we all felt his presence peering over our shoulders and breathing down our necks everytime we even thought about grabbing for our phones. 

The Pokering – “I see dead hands.” 
(Screenplay in progress. Copyright 2019.)

Eddie won the small showdown, Bruce won the big. Everybody else was immediately angry at Eddie and Bruce.

Our next game is when it will be, but the annual William Stephenson Memorial Poker Game will be played Super Bowl Sunday from this day forward. Weed will be inhaled, BBQ’d meats will also be inhaled, memories will be remembered, and laughs will be laughified. 

So it is written. So it will be done.

Rest. In. Peace. Out.

 

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