So to recap I am at a party weighing the pros and cons of not drinking. The pros include fun and not feeling the way I felt. The cons, or the pros in favour of not drinking, included several things and one of those being a positive feeling about myself. Pride.

This is where it gets interesting folks. A battle in my head and body between feeling bad about myself and feeling good. A battle I hadn’t experienced before. And it was epic. It raged most of the night. And luckily for me by the time I was approaching a decision one way or the other? The party was over. I had sort of emotionally paralyzed my way through a difficult night. Which is a win in my book. And since this is my book. I am writing it down. That was a win for Michael!

One of my favourite drinking games came out that night though and I really enjoyed watching. It’s a drinking game we call Horse Race. In this game the aces in the deck are the 4 horses and they ‘race’ to the end of the table. You shuffle the rest of the cards and turn them over one at a time. The ace with the suit that corresponds with the suit of the card that is flipped over advances one space. The spaces are marked out along the table by cards. At each new level the course marker card is flipped over. If that card corresponds to the leading horse then it gets knocked back a peg. In the end the first horse to reach the end of the table wins. To make it a drinking game we simply wagered on the horses. If you win you get to make people drink. Lose and you have to drink.

Pretty simple little game. Where the fun really comes in though is when we named the horses. And those names were written on the aces so we wouldn’t forget. Horse puns like “Airbiscuit” and “Seattle Stew” were common. As were interesting windows into people’s psyche. Names like “The Devil’s Nuts”. Or “Daddy Never Loved You” were fun. Myself? I enjoyed the topical horse type puns. “Watch Me Whip, Watch Me Neigh Neigh” was a personal favourite. “The Say Hay Kid” also was fun. Sometimes a drunkard with less than stellar imagination would name his or her horse something like “Fuck Sticks” or “Dick Pie”. Which is also fun because later we’d play crib or something and an ace would come out of the deck with “Fuck Sticks” written on it.

The reason the horse race was so enjoyable that night is that John was there and John had a certain talent. A talent for play by play. That talent extended to pretend horse racing and in fact making a horse race out of cards named “Dick Pie” and “Devil Nuts” sound like a real horse race.

(side note: John was a very talented play by play guy. He used to do play by play for the local race track. Stock cars in Northern BC. Probably a quarter mile track and it was dirt. We would sit up in the booth above the grandstand area and John would call the race live as it was happening out over the loudspeakers. I remember vividly the time he said, “around the final corner he comes. He won’t be caught with almost a half track lead. Nothing can stop him from winning this race.” And as he was saying that last sentence the car in the lead lost it’s front passenger tire. It just flew off and bounced down the track. The car basically face planted into the ground and came to a grinding stop just before the finish line. I guess there was something that could stop it from winning. Karma kicking John in the ass. Every single car passed on by and the car that couldn’t lose finished in dead last.)

Back to Horse Race. He’d start out quiet. “‘The Devil’s Nuts” out to an early lead. Now “Dick Pie” pulls alongside.”

And now the excitement would start to build.

“It’s a two horse race at the quarter pole. But here comes “The Say Hay Kid” up the inside.”

John was getting into it now.

“Still Devil’s Nuts and “Dick Pie” battling for the title. And “Daddy Never Loved You” still not out of the gates. But now starting to make a move. “The Say Hay Kid trying to fight back now with a run up the inside.”

And now the excitement ramped up even more.

“Down the stretch they come!!” John would exclaim wildly. “THE DEVIL’S NUTS CAN SMELL THE WIN. BUT WAIT “THE SAY HAY KID” IS FLYING ALONG THE RAIL. “DICK PIE” COMING ON STRONG NOW AND THEY COME TO THE LINE AND IT’LL BE “DICK PIE” COMING ON TO!!!!”

And the crowd would go wild at that point. Everyone caught up in the moment thanks to the magic of one man’s imagination. I would often be in charge of the flipping the cards and we’d get into a rhythm so that John could really get into the flow. As he’d ramp up I would ramp up the speed of flipping the cards and moving the aces so he wouldn’t have to break stride or slow down or wait. It was vital to keep that magic alive.

It turned into a great night of horse races. And having something to do ended up helping me to keep my mind off the not drinking. I was too busy running this game. I had important things to do. I couldn’t afford to get drunk. I was far too important. The game needed me!

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