Friday, December 1, 2023

Friends of Friends

As most posts go, I am not sure where this is going. I just know when good things happen in my life I think I should let someone know about it. I guess this is what keeps the voyeuristic social media click rates of all of us feed on providing us with little shots of dopamine. Over the last 30-ish days I have been on the road in Indonesia and visiting Wiz one of the closest people I have grown to know in my life. Wiz and I became friends about 30 years ago while we were in the Marines stationed on two different bases in Hawaii. Wiz was at Camp Smith the HQ command post for the 3 star general that ran all of the Marines in the pacific. I was stationed at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station on the other side of the island.

Over my time in life I have played so many of hands of cards I couldn’t count them all. If I could make a guess its higher on the O/U than Wilt Chamberlains conquest in bed. What can I say something about the excite of picking up that pile of cards and seeing what life is throwing at me has me hooked. At that moment what you do with those cards is up to you. You have some games where you play the cards in your hand to the strongest you possibly can, think about poker or even better spades. Listen I am not even trying to compare poker and spades but the idea of you getting a hand and then making the opponents play to your game and not theirs is a pretty big high.

Now hear me out spades and poker are some of my favorite games in life the boss hand aspect is always fun to chase after. But realistically besides waiting for the flop in poker its pretty bad and a very poor analogy when it comes to humans. Another game I liked playing when I was younger but always looked at as an “old woman” game is Gin. In Gin yes life throws you a handful of cards same as poker and spades, but the difference is what you have to build something out of that hand. Even though there is the possibly of winning early with that initial hand the majority of the time you have to make something out of that hand during that hand. The better you do during the drawing rounds of the game means you do much, much better in the game. Like I said I wasn’t sure where this was going. At this point in my writing as much as I would love to say my life was a Big Moe or a Royal Flush, I think with the friends I have its one of the best hands of Gin anyone could ever ask for.

Not to context jump too much for the non-card players out there (I pity you). But I have to compare my hand with friends like Wiz to the best Spades hand you have ever ended up with. A long time ago life threw a hand of cards at me that included Wiz. When you start picking your cards up after the deal and looking at them picking up Wiz would be like picking up a Big Joker on the first card and just waiting to see what else the hand has for you. If I looked at all of my great friends over the years there is no way I could get a hand this good without cheating. Seriously my life has provided me the Solo Boston of hands with the wonderful friends life has dealt in my hand. Spades is a game where a certain level of outside influence (cough cheating) is expected…. I am not saying its legal to cheat but there is such a level of shit talking that goes with the game, getting away with anything you possibly can is sort of a badge of honor in the game. Unlike spades it turns out the shuffle of life itself is a great equalizer and no matter how much table talk, slapping suites of cards, and renigging one can do you still have to make something out of the hand life gives you. Its crazy how much I would really like to write this whole thing about spades and the shear amount of fun 4 guys or 2 teams at a BBQ verbally destroying each other.

Shifting gears back to Gin (sorry to all of the non-card playing readers looking up what a Solo Boston is). When I talk about Wiz and other people I consider my friends I really need to look at life as not just an initial hand of cards but a whole game of Gin Rummy. Its not about dealing out the whole deck and building off of that, life is about starting with what you got reaching into the world (the remaining deck) to pull more from it. I guess this may 50 talking but a young man probably looks at life like a poker hand, as life goes on you realize life is better if you play it like a hand of Gin Rummy. When I look at my life now, I think of a game like gin rummy. What you started with say a trailer park in Alabama, mother that left you and a sister to be raised by a single dad, learning disability, and lets not forget the aversion to gambling. Doesn’t mean that is what you’re going to end up with in life. The draw cards in life has made my deck and the friends I have pulled in those draws are amazing.

Alright so about Friends of Friends. I told you I didn’t know where this was going, 30+ hours ago I started my journey home and it was seriously hard to leave Wiz and his family in Bali. When I got to the airport in Bali another friend of over 30 years Dre text me. In my melting pot of friends Dre is one of the OGs. We grew up in the same little San Bernardino neighborhood figuring our way through our different lives and no matter how far we have moved away from the old neighborhood every time we get to see each other its like we never left. Dre has worked for a flight attendant for a long time, hell she went to flight attendant school when she was roomies with one of my crazy ex’s. These days I fly a lot for work and I use her airline just in hopes one of these days she will be working so we can laugh about it.

Alright so I made it from Bali to Doha, then to Philly, now on my way to LA. Dre text me in Bali saying “one of my friends is working the Philly to LA flight, hes going to hook you up.” Well to tell you the truth this kind of text from one of my friends saying they have a friend that is going to hook you up can be terrifying. I knew I had a long day of travel ahead of me, I also knew the last leg of my flight if I made it through customs and TSA in Philly was going to be in first class, so I wasn’t to worried about my situation. When one of my friends say there is going to be a “hook up” life could get crazy.

So what started this whole blog post that I had no idea where it was going. I guess I knew where it was going the whole time. I have a whole lot of friends that make me feel loved in life and they area amazing. Some of those friends have friends that are just like the rest of us and when you get on their flights they give you 6 Jack Daniels on the rocks and 3 Baileys and coffee to help you hopefully put the jet lag monsters at bay. Some of those friends of friends happen to be cruise ship captains that like to play golf, Aussie miners that work in Tanzania and like fishing. These days I have a hand full of cards that could win any game of Gin Rummy and I really don’t want to play any of them because I don’t want the game to end.

Thanks guys.

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