Two nights ago Cory and I went to the nuggets game…good times…not a bad story. A little background to the night…I called him a week or so ago and tasked him with lining up tickets to the game. Don’t ask me why, but I really wanted to go to a Nuggets game. And actually, I’ve always liked pro basketball games. Basketball is one of those sports that I just wasn’t good enough to play after a certain point (at least not in a real way; I played intramural in college but our team was more known for starting trouble than for winning games). Anyway…when I gave Cory his mission, I knew he would make it happen and he did; we ended up with some decent floor seats. Strong work son.
We started off with dinner at Braun’s – a place downtown by the Pepsi Center. Cory’s mom gave him a gift certificate so we had some French dips on her before heading over to the game. Funny enough, not at all surprising, Cory knew the owner so we hung out with him for just a few minutes. Turns out he’d found some tickets on the floor earlier in the day. He gave them to us so we could see which seats were better – ours or the orphans that he’d found – and sit in the best ones. Fat chance. Cory’s eyes darted to mine about the same time mine hit his and I knew we were thinking the same thing: Our tickets are better. But we’re happy to sell these and keep the money. Done and done. 15 minutes later we had out haggled some street scalper and paid for our tickets and whatever drinks we might have. Nice. But wait, it gets better.
Jeff Stewart was my first friend in grade school. In fact, I met him in kindergarten. He lived up the street so we walked home together. My earliest memory from that time is walking in the front room of his house and yelling to his mom.
“Mom, I have a new friend!”
“What’s his name?”
“Is he black?”
Heh heh heh… Actually, years later Jeff was staying the night with me when his house burned down and he lost his mom in the fire. We went through a lot together in our early years, then we lost touch after high school.
Ok, back to the game. Jeff and I made contact via email a few weeks ago. Turns out his company has a hospitality suite at the Pepsi Center and when he found out Cory and I were going to the game he invited us up. Box seats=free food+free drinks=perfect. We never even saw our seats! There was a slight bit of strangeness given that Jeff and his friends were there because one of them is dying of a brain tumor in the next two months. Believe me, we would have bailed if it felt like we were crashing a special moment – it didn’t. A few of those guys we actually knew from way back so it wasn’t strange at all. I have to admit though…I was a little preoccupied with the death thing…as I am a lot of the time lately. The guy has a wife and kids and everything. Each one of us has an invisible date and the story of how we die inscribed on the top of our heads and it freaks me out. What does mine say I wonder?
Christmas Eve was a little subdued this year. I mean that in a good way. Maternal resistance to my friend’s and my annual Christmas Eve happy hour was the lowest it’s been in a decade, thank God. I think I’m finally wearing that woman down. That event, in and of itself, was decent. A major difference this year was the fact that one of our friends now has a bar up north, where we live. We decided to do it at his place and I’m happy we did. But it was still the same gig…whoever can make it turns out, takes an hour or two to give hugs, have a couple drinks and get the hell out of there. I like it. Easy come, easy go. The truth of the matter is that we had no idea how crowded it might get. Over 140 people on Facebook confirmed or said they might show. I’m not sure how many came in the end. Way less than that, that’s for sure. And good thing. It’s important that the event stays manageable. Otherwise, Cory and I have already decided that we’ll bail on it and go somewhere else on our own.
Back at my mom’s house things stayed low key. There is rigidity in my family’s Christmas Eve that’s hard to explain. It has a lot to do with food and opening presents and the process by which each of those things gets accomplished. But somehow…things felt a little easier this year. It was almost like the transformation from the parents to grandparents, and kids to adults had been completed. Just like when we were kids – a separate table had been set up for youngsters in the group. There was a new engagement – my cousin Zach. The meal was the same – raviolis. My mom, aunt and grandma handmade 500 this year. I don’t even thing we made it through 20% of them. So I guess nothing really new…but for some reason it was easier.
And then there was Christmas Day. Honestly, I have never seen as many presents as there were under the tree this year – ever. My mom said there has always been that many…no way. Ah good for the girls…because, of course, all the gifts were for them. And of course they had a great day. They’re finally old enough to appreciate the day, I think. That being said, there is no way I believe Ava thinks there is a Santa Clause. Lily…I don’t think she’ll ever believe there isn’t one. Either way, the fact that there are presents for them from someone eclipses the debate I think. Who cares who brought them?
Christmas Day/Night was our annual poker game. It went long this year. I got there at about 8:30 and I’m pretty sure we didn’t wrap up until after 2 or 3. In the end I lost $11. $11. I was up for several hours, too, but the last few hands wrecked me. A few weird anomalies to the evening…for one, there were girls there. Two of them. I think we were all a little confused when two women from our rival high school showed up saying Cory had invited them. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok and they fit right in. But our Christmas Day card game is currently endorsed by the wives, in part because of its history and also in part, I’m sure, because it’s just the guys. Not so sure everyone would be as accepting of us splitting on Christmas Day to drink beer if they knew there were chicks involved. Know what I mean? Oh…other thing was that Troy was super nasty. Not sure what that was all about but he sure seemed bitter. For the first time I started wondering about all the guns he’s been buying and how his hyper-interest in hunting as of late intersects with stress he’s going through with work, finances and relationships. I’m not trying to make any implications here…just things going through my head.