It's our time. Man time

It's our time. Man time

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Twelve days a year, I get to be a man.

A testosterone-filled-hair-on-my-back-hey-what-are-you-looking-at-asshole-check-out- these-pythons-just-gimme-a-shot-whiskey-and-pull-the-tooth-doc kind of man.

A man that defines what a man should be. And what a man should be doing. And the way a man should act. Which is somewhere between a caveman and John Belushi.

Yeah, twelve days a year, I get to be a man.

A man who embodies the spirit of what man was supposed to be when the whole idea of man was still on the drawing table.

"I dunno," said God. "This thing I'm thinking about. It…he…whatever the hell I'm gonna call it…it needs to be primal. Instinctive. Horny. Y'know…a man."

Twelve days a year, I get to be a man. And last week was one of them. Because it was the last Monday of the month. And that means it was Poker Night.

To boring old married guys like us, it's our Get Out of Jail Free card. 

Imagine, for eight glorious hours, no one hears, "Hey honey, do you think you could…." Or, "Dad, I really need some money for a…." Or, "C'mon, you promised you'd leave your wife for me."

Poker Night. Of all the manly things a man can do, is there anything more manly than looking at small numbers on tiny plastic coated pieces of cardstock -- and then betting on them?

Of course, we're all there to take money away from our friends. But it's so much more than that. It's a chance for men to interact with men. Bonding, I think they call it. While women talk on the phone, and go out for tea and write each other letters -- and did I mention that they talk on the phone -- men do four things:

We watch sports. We talk about women. We play cards. And we also talk about playing cards.

Poker Night gives men a chance to showcases themselves at their manly finest. 

In our group, there's Tony and Tony and Don and Joe and Joe and Dave and Kirk and me. Together, we spend the evening doing everything and anything necessary to violate every rule of decorum, conduct and moral decency.

Burping. Farting. Swearing. A night with Emily Post, it ain't. The abuse is intolerable, relentless and joyously mean-spirited. It's the kind of interaction men truly crave. 

As opposed to the interaction men tolerate with women to enjoy the other thing that men truly crave.

Naked women.

And so, at 7 pm, on the last Monday of every month, it's Poker Night. And for a few hours, all the rules are thrown out the window.

Ah hell, it's Poker Night. All the rules are thrown through the friggin' window.

The cuisine, you ask? Manly foods, of course. Manly meats like thick bologna and hard salami. And manly potato chips and manly pretzels and 63 gallons of mustard and beer and peanuts and candy and anything else you could find in the man aisle at the grocery store.

And don't forget the pickles. Manly pickles. Polish spears. From Warsaw. Made during the War. The Big One.

Personally, if it were up to me, we wouldn't even have plates on Poker Night. Just shove the damned food in your piehole and eat it like a man. 

That's what I'd say. If anybody asked.

Not surprisingly, the games we play are manly, too. Five card. Stud. Seven card. Stud. We play something called the V Game, where cards are placed in the middle of the table in the shape of a "V". I happen to think it's called the V Game because "V" stands for vagina. 

Because you see, I think like a man.

We also play a game called Slider where the last card can screw you. And not in a good way.

And then there's 7-27. It's not really a manly game. But we're men. And we play it. And for men, close enough is close enough.

I ask you, is there anything more manly than sitting with other men and gambling? The opportunity to take your hard-earned money and place it down on the table as a challenge to the strength of others is unparalleled. Gambling is a symbol of the aggressive risk-taking passion of men. It's a gauntlet tossed in the face of overwhelming odds. And it's a really good way to say, "Screw you dickheads, I've got a full house."

And so it goes and goes and goes. Five, six, seven hours. More betting. More eating. More swearing. Insulting the guy next to you. Across from you. At the opposite end of the table from you. Diagonally from you. 

For men, this is like sending flowers.

At the end of the night, you've won a few hands. But you've probably lost more. You made some poor decisions. You made some really good decisions. And every once in a while, you just got plain lucky.

Above and beyond the luck of being blessed to be a man.

If you won money, everyone says congratulations. Even though they don't really mean it. Because no self-respecting man wants another man to succeed at his expense. 

Then finally, we decide where the next game will be. We shake hands, thank the host, and then, despite the mess -- the plates, the cups, the food, the chips ground into the carpeting, the folding chairs, the crap everywhere -- we all walk out.

No one questions it. No one challenges it. You just leave. 

It's just one of those unwritten rules for guys. Like the rule that when you see a guy you know walking into a hotel with another woman, you should never tell his wife. 

So we all sadly say goodbye for another month. Knowing that we've done our part to preserve this last bastion of manhood. 

Tired, weary and hopefully with a little more money in pocket than what I left with, I step into my house. Back to reality. I drag myself upstairs, throw my clothes on the floor and slide into bed with my wife. 

My rustling wakes her up.

"Jesus," she says, "you smell like smoke."

"I know," I say. "Wanna have sex?"

"That's funny," she answers, sleeping.

I don't care, though. No woman is going to ruin my manly night.

Besides, I'm gonna take a shower in a couple of hours, anyway.

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