Another senior citizen stating the obvious: What we take for granted in youth, we treasure in old age. The “once-upon-a-time” list grows in reminiscence.
Another senior citizen stating the obvious: What we take for granted in youth, we treasure in old age—our health, vitality, friendships … . The “once-upon-a-time” list grows as ordinary events become more meaningful in reminiscence.
Poker night was a monthly routine I enjoyed with my thirty-something pals in Cleveland, half a lifetime ago. The gambling was lightweight: a big winner might win $20. But the reward was beyond monetary. These regular get-togethers reaffirmed our kinship as we “treadmilled” into middle age.
What began as an occasional card game over a few beers morphed into ritual—an escape from the work-week grind for high-pressure retailers, lawyers, money managers and consultants; therapy for our broken romances; and a reprieve from life’s uncertainties. We could always count on poker night. It was a sure bet.
We dispensed advice on everything from long-term investments to short-term relationships. The ease of our dialogue evidence of our mutual trust. We put up with each other’s gambling quirks as we did our lifestyle differences. We were Jews and Gentiles, Democrats and Republicans, straight-laced gents and provocateurs. Back then we had more hair, fewer wrinkles and slimmer waistlines. But what I remember most about those good times was how often we laughed as if clinging to the remnants of boyhood.
Our final poker night was an anomaly. Held on a Saturday afternoon instead of the usual Thursday evening, we gathered at my brick Colonial in Rocky River, Ohio. Another first: the card game was videotaped because a founding member, our beloved Ron, had moved to L.A. in late 1989.
On this day we are five instead of the usual six. We play our hands and mug for the videocam, accompanied by Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album. Dennis, a former rock n’ roll guitarist-turned pollster, goes for another beer and can’t resist grooving to the Motown beat. One by one, we all join in. They say: “White men can’t jump.” And most can’t dance. But we sure did that day, and it was hilarious. At least I think it was. And so did Ron when he watched the VHS tape mailed to him. Years later, the laughter endures and reassures as the best payoff from poker night memories.
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