Beer and poker: the last conversation

Thumbnail image for al-martinez-sketch.jpgWhen old men get together over poker and a few beers they no longer talk only about babes and politics. They also talk about their bladders and their prostate glands.

On this night they hit three out of four. No politics.

William, for instance, who once lusted over Annabelle, the 65-year-old who wore tight shorts and a halter while hand watering the lawn, could hardly remember who Annabelle was or why she didn't just buy automatic lawn sprinklers.

"You used to say you've been with her, if you know what I mean," Thomas reminded him, cutting the cards, and William, still confused, would reply, "I saw her down at Von's once in a while. I guess she goes to Gelson's now. I don't see her anymore."

"She probably ran off with that real estate guy," Morris suggested.

"Picklefeister?" James said. "Not a chance. He had an enlarged prostate and couldn't get it up." He began dealing. It was the last game of the summer session. The Topanga Poker, Thinking and Drinking Club would meet again in January, 2015.

"How do you know he couldn't get it up?"'

"He told me. All he could manage was a halfer."

"I've had those," William said, "and it's true. But it's a bladder problem, not an enlarged prostate the way you guys all think. I'll bet a dollar."

Morris threw two blue chips into the growing pile. "See and raise." He leaned back and sipped his O'Doul's, the only non-boozer in the crowd. "What you guys don't get is that it could be anything that intrudes on your pleasure. Spider bites or infected egg yolks."

He had a two-year Associate of Arts Degree from the University of Culver City State so everyone paid attention to him. No one else in the Poker Club was that well educated.

"Been there myself," he said. That was a surprise to everyone. Morris was almost perfect. He would never have humiliated himself with a halfer. "I'm outa here," he said, rising and throwing in his cards. "Got a doctor's appointment upstairs in 15 minutes."

"This late?" William said.

Morris leaned in closer. "It's a special treatment, his own creation. A mustard plaster over the crotch."

"Ouch," Thomas said, wincing. "That would burn his little buddy into submission, all right. I fold too." Morris rushed out. James flipped over Morris's cards. "A full house," he said. "If he was that anxious to get outa here maybe he's on to something."

"He's got what we've all got, boys. Old age."

They gave the game to Morris, gathered the cards and chips and left. William turned off the lights and sat in the dark room thinking. Then he pushed himself up out of the chair with great effort, wondering about mustard plaster over the groin, and limped down the hall.

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