I felt lightheaded. My eyes were tearing up. I was having trouble breathing. It was all I could do to quell the mounting anxiety as I impatiently anticipated my turn. No, I wasn’t awaiting treatment at the local emergency ward for symptoms of a heart attack. I was at Chris Judge’s house for poker night.
The air was thick with cigar smoke, an all-encompassing cloud of some 400 different chemicals that penetrated everything in the room, coating my lungs with a carcinogenic veneer. “It’s good for you,”Chris tried to convince me, straight-faced. “Every once in a while, your lungs need a scrubbing.” I ignored him, redirecting my attention to my glass of Scotch. I’m not much of a drinker but, if you’re playing poker at Chris’s, a glass of Scotch is a must-have. The host is pouring and he won’t take no for an answer. And so, I fielded the buzz off the double Chris had given me and tried to concentrate on my hand. The game was Texas Hold ’Em and my evening had gone from good to great to not so good.
In attendance this evening: our affable host – t.v. superstar – Chris Judge, Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok, Script Coordinator Alex Levine, Lord Camulus himself – Steve Bacic- sporting some very un-Goa’uld-like shades, Lawren Bancroft Wilson, Lawren’s buddy whose name escapes me, and myself. Needless to say, gambling is illegal so we weren’t playing for money. We were playing for love and best wishes. And halfway though the night, I’d received a lot of love and best wishes, from Steve and Lawren’s buddy in particular after I topped his King high flush with an Ace. Of course, my hot streak cooled considerably when I called Bacic’s all-in and had my flush trumped by his full-house. But I was a good sport. “Will you still hire me?”he asked as he raked in my chips. “Oh yeah,”I lied. “Sure.”
To be perfectly honest, losing isn’t so bad. Granted, it’s bad, but not so bad. No, the very worst part of playing poker is slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow play. You know, those players who take forever to make up their minds. Those players who become so distracted as the evening progresses that they have to be reminded that the bet is to them. Those players who will occasionally wander off from the table and bring the game to a grinding halt. I won’t point fingers, but let’s just say I’m referring to one person in particular. And his initials are C.J. And he happened to play Teal’c in a certain scifi series that shall remain nameless as well.
Forgot to add – Because of all the smoke, Chris left the back doors wide open. “If you see a bear,”he advised us, “run!” We all laughed, assuming he was kidding. He wasn’t. Apparently he’s seen more than one wayward bear strolling across his backyard. “If I even hear a bear, I’ll be the first one out of here,”he admitted. The very thought made me nervous. On the other hand, I figured it would make for a terrific blog pic. Just in case, I advised Lawren that in the event a bear did show, I would need him to go stand beside it in order to capture the proper scale.
Anyhoo, a glass of Scotch, a tenfold dose of lethal cigar smoke, and four hours of play later, and I was exactly where I’d started. If you factor in the gas I’d used to get there, I was behind. But then, I didn’t pay for the pizza, Scotch, or the funny-tasting flavored bottled water, so I suppose it evened out in the end.
When I left them at 1:30 a.m., they were still playing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they still are.
The pics: Alex got game, Ivon the poster boy for clean living, Ivon mentally prepping by the pool, Ivon and Steve come to play, Alex checks his stocks, I keep an eye on my chips, Steve and Chris get down to business, Lawren enjoys a drink of his creation – what he refers to as The Scotchalatte, things are looking up for me, Chris plays a hand, Ivon surveys the competition, Ivon not lovin’ the chip, Ivon descent into madness, me missing my fortune, while Steve’s fortunes are looking up, and my ice cream cache.
Sorry, no Q&A today as I’m getting a haircut, The Sopranos are on tonight, and there’s a whole whack o’ ice cream I need to get around to eating.