When You Know The Night Has Gone Awry; Los Angeles, CA
August 3, 2021

I headed out last night, up the 110 freeway and directly into the heart of darkness; Los Angeles. Debauchery, madness, many cocktails, and sites not meant to be seen awaited me, but I did not know this. Not yet. The collision between myself and these things would be epic and frightening, much like a Phil Ivey flop check-raise. I wanted to escape, but really there was nothing I could do to get out of the way...

The evening started out innocently enough, with me meeting up with Amanda, LA Mike, and Amanda's good friend from North Carolina, Jessica. We were all pretty beat from running around in the sun all day, as I had had a small bbq at my place earlier. We tossed the baseball around, played a little bocce and just generally tired ourselves out. This tiredness led us to really just want to lay around and have a few drinks, not too interested in going out really. Being the motivator that I am though, I picked up a deck of cards and we began playing "Fluggenstein", a game that I invented with one of my Berkeley roommates quite a few years back. I won't bore you with the rules, as it's really an acquired taste once you have started playing it once. It's the perfect thing to get people drinking however, and it did the trick here. We played this for a while and eventually landed on another game...the classic, the go-to...A**hole.

It's a great game. It's simple, and it allows you to make ridiculous rules once you have finished as President a few times in a row, which we exploited to full effect. A few of our rules included, "Whenever Jessica speaks, she must start it off with 'NC Rocks!'", "Whenever a 6 is played each person must make their own corresponding animal noise and not be the last one to do so, under punishment", and so on and so forth. We played this for quite a bit and then learned that our old pal Joey Stapes, aka Joe Stapleton would be stopping by to hang for a bit. He showed up and that's when things started to get a little strange...

Stapes rolled in with his friend, Jen, and they had been drinking at another bar not too far away. They immediately joined in the game just as Jessica had finished as President yet again, and had earned the right to make a rule. At this point, she made a sad and egregious error. I wanted to pull the words out of the air in front of her mouth and push them back in...force them back in...somehow, someway. Sadly though, I could not...

"I know! Each time someone plays doubles, Stapes has to remove an article of clothing!"

Why? What was the reasoning? Did she hate us? Did she want us to be in physical pain?! It wasn't right, and it would come back to haunt us. This I knew, as she said it...

Now people, the first thing we must understand is that A**hole has several instances within it that doubles are played. As in, a lot. As in, many. As in, dear lord, why? Why?!

The other thing that must be considered is that Stapes has more than a few screws loose, and he also has one thing in great abundance: balls. I knew that he would not back down from a challenge like this...and I was afraid.

The first round went quite normally, with Stapes doing what any normal human being would be, which was remove as little clothing as he possibly could. First his hat came off, then a shoe, then the other shoe. Eventually the belt and shorts. At this point though, he got that little glint in his eye. That glint that said, "You wanna dance with the devil, huh? Alright, let's see how badly you get burned then, monkeytoes," or something to that effect.

"Ok, that's it, that's it. You guys wanna mess with me. Let's go then. This round I will be removing my clothes as quickly as possible. That's right. Belt, shorts, boxers. That's how this is gonna go down."

And thus we began the second round...and the long walk I like to call "The Destruction of My Innocence".

Sure enough, doubles suddenly started to flow like a river and before you know it, young Stapes was down to his hat, his shirt, his socks and shoes...and only his boxers. Sweet wicks of a candle, I have to say it yet again...why?

"Two Jacks," Amanda cried out ironically, and slapped her cards down. Stapes immediately jumped up as if he was a roman candle on the 4th of July. "Let's do this," he said and two seconds later, it was done. And so was I...

I don't know how many of you have ever seen a grown man in his hat, his shirt, and his socks and shoes, but it is not right. It is not a good site. It is a site that can drive a person to madness. I have to give it up though, as this man had some serious balls...oh, and he also had gumption as well.

You would think that this would last only 20 seconds or so and then he would snatch his boxers back on, but not it didn't go down like this. Stapes purposefully played his hand as slowly as he could. You see he had 3 sets of doubles in his hand, but he CHOSE to break them up and play them as singles to lengthen this experiment of flesh.

So there we were. Stapes' junk hanging out with us all. By all accounts truly a new member of the group that night. Strangely, his member reminded me of the Sun in many ways. I will explain...

For we all know that the sperm encased inside this grotesque creature I was forced to look at would bring life into the world some day, but also if I happened to look at it for too long, it would burn my eyes wholly out, much like the Sun itself. So indeed, the analogy rang true.

I know nothing else to say on this. As I stated above, it was a scary evening. Eventually it all did end though and we picked up our shattered psyches and headed out to a bar for a nightcap. Why did it happen? How could it have been prevented? Most importantly though...why do I still have nights like this, albeit quite rare these days, into my 30's?

These are all good questions, and perhaps ones that I can solve in future blogs...stay tuned.


PS- 'State Radio' was pretty sick here in LA a few weeks back, and I also got to catch 'John Mayer' with Amanda, although that show was at an amphitheatre and I think his stuff translates much better to a smaller venue. Still, wasn't bad, although he kept talking about how making money made him feel beholden to the fans, which I thought was a very odd thing to say, let alone keep saying. His guitar playing is amazing though, any way you slice it...

@howardhlederer @the_USO @HuckleberrySeed @phil_hellmuth @AnnieDuke @Tom_Dwan safe travels + great trip for you all.

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