7.10 / September 2012

Some Nights We Play Poker

We invite over all our friends, ready the house. Poker night! we say. It’s been too long! they say back. They bring beer, or whiskey, or wine, and snacks, and money to lose, but sometimes too many cancel last-minute, or just don’t show, and we aren’t able to play. If as many as half don’t show, we don’t have enough.


We used to know more people – some moved, some had kids. We used to create Facebook event pages, really have fun and make awesome graphics, get playful with the description language. Then it got we were getting too many Nos and Maybes, not enough Yeses. Got kinda depressing. The only comments we’d get on the event wall were from people who had moved, saying sorry they were gonna miss it. Sorry they moved. Or from people who’d had kids, but they never said sorry for having kids.


One guy had to go to rehab – now he’s sober and so says he probably shouldn’t. Another guy… she tried to sleep with. Or, maybe she didn’t try to, but she didn’t try not to either. Same thing, sometimes. He doesn’t so much say he probably shouldn’t, but it goes without saying.


Sometimes, when we do get enough people, its like old times – we get drunk and make stupid bets that we wouldn’t make sober and flirt with each other’s wives and husbands, but then someone will ask what ever happened to that one guy, or someone else will ask why doesn’t that other guy play with us anymore, and either way it gets awkward. Sometimes we get past it, other times it ruins the night.


One girl’s dating her cousin now – not blood or anything, but still. She feels awkward coming with him, but awkward coming without, too, which makes sense. She fears what we might say, both in his presence and not, and it’s probably for the best, because we probably would.


Sometimes, after everyone’s left and the night’s over, we think, why’d they have to ask that? Ruining our night and making everything awkward, with their awkward questions and our awkward non-answers. We think, maybe we shouldn’t invite them next time? but of course we do because without them we definitely wouldn’t have enough.


Another couple just doesn’t like us anymore. I don’t know why. Sometimes there’s no explaining these things. Or maybe it’s us that doesn’t like them. Sometimes it’s hard to remember. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter.


Some nights no one shows up at all, even the ones that said they’d make it, they were sure they could, they promised. We go about our night, try to pretend like we’d never invited anyone in the first place. Like we’d cleaned the house for our own benefit, like we’d never had any plans otherwise. We Sharpie out “Poker Night” on our calendar, smile and remember we’d rather spend time along with one another than with anyone else anyway. We watch a movie in bed, like this had been what we’d looked forward to all day, we don’t even like poker anyway.

Aaron Burch's first full length collection of stories, Backswing, will be out next year from Queen's Ferry Press. He is also the autor of How to Take Yourself Apart, How to Make Yourself Anew, which won PANK's inaugural chapbook competition, and the editor of HOBART: another literary journal.
7.10 / September 2012