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Tuesday, January 22, 2002


I am no Paul Newman. I'm not a hustler. I'm not a shark. And I'm not good at much of anything that requires specific gaming skills.

But don't tell my South Carolina friends that, because as the cobwebs clear, and their synapses start to re-fire...they refuse to believe that they didn't get hustled.

Last Friday night was one of those evenings that was a big blank space of the social calender of life. We had nothing, nothing to do. We sat in T's Boy Room, listening to girls titter upstairs. We looked at each other and found nothing interesting in each other's features to talk about. There were no friendly insults, no spontaneous games of Euchre, no serious calls to go hide the in the back corner of a smokey bar.

I'm not big on being the social decision-maker. If I don't throw the party, I don't want to decide the agenda. In most cases, it's because I simply don't care what we do. But the sound of a beer can opening in complete silence was maddening and I took the initiative.

"Let's play Caps," I said and nobody was particulary excited about it.

My college friends taught me the game. It invovles two teams of two, sitting a goodly distance apart from each other, each team having a cup of beer at its feet. The object: The teams alternate tosses of a bottle cap with the intention of landing the cap in the opposing team's cup. If the thrower accomplishes the task, the opposing team must make its shot, and if it does not, the two losing team members must drink their beer. It's a simple game that requires good hand/eye coordination and the willingness to drink a lot of beer.

We had almost three cases.

"It has been a long time since I played," I explained as I missed my first few shots. Nobody really cared.

But they started to get excited as they hit their shots and forced the opposing team to drink. There were loud screams, a little pointing and poking, some high-fives that only men can appreciate. The first case of beer disappeared. Then half of the second case. The players started dropping out. I still wanted to play and started making large bets with ugly odds to get people to continue.

Then I hit a zone. The caps floated in the air and I felt like I could direct them with mere mind control. The satisfying mini-splash of my opponents' cups was only fuel for my future success.

That's when they started calling me a shark, a hustler, etc.

Before it ws all said and done, the beer was gone and I was still relatively sober.

I recognize that we're all too old to play drinking games. We are husbands, employees, parents, responsible members of society. We shouldn't drink for gaming success. And yet, most of what we do as friends either invovles some sort of competition or some sort of social drinking. I don't see any reason why we can't combine the two every once in a while.

And on that note...there is a multi-team Caps Tourney in Columbia, MO this weekend. If anybody there wants to charter me a plane...I might know a ringer.


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