Not Family Game Night, But Family Game Fight
Once a month my dysfunctional family would get together on family game night to play a game of Pokeno until some poor sport (someone who exhibits improper behavior during a game, whether winning or losing), starts a fight.
I’ll bet you that many of you who will read this short story has never played or even heard of the game Pokeno. My family has been playing this game for over the past 50 years. I want to say that we stop playing one month because of the bombing in Tel Aviv, the last Palestinian bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial and cultural capital, took place in April 2006. In that attack, an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber detonated himself at a Shwarma restaurant, killing 11 and wounding dozens. One of them was my third Cousin Robert, while serving in the Marine Corps. Okay, maybe are fights weren’t as serious as a suicide bombing or as the feud between the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s but sometimes after playing Pokeno for pennies there was a lot of bloodshed.
For those of you who may want to play this game on family night I’ll give you the 9 simple steps. Label money holding containers (pots). Po-Ke-No is a game in which players play for money. In order to be organized and have the game run smoothly it is necessary to label these containers, also known as pots. It is possible to play the game without these containers, but it is not recommended. Especially playing with a family full of cheaters. This is because as the game progresses players will begin to add money to each pile respectively and it may be difficult to distinguish one pot from the next. There are several different labels that can be placed on each pot, but there are usually four standard pot labels that are typically used by players universally. The labels for the pots are Corners, Centers, Five in a Row, & Four of a Kind. Hold up, hold up! I’m not going to go over how its played. My job as a novice writer is to tell you what happens to the winners and loser after we consume enough of Granny’s triple X moonshine from the Beverly Hillbillies. Even the children are allowed to have some to drink. The family had to put an age limit on who can have some moonshine, because when I was 2 years old after drinking a tablespoon or two. I tried to burn down my grandmother’s barn. Even today I can’t tell you how I got outside or how I was able to strike a match. In all honesty I believed I was framed by my oldest brother because he was 6 years old at the time and today he’s doing 9 to 5, I mean 9 to 50 years for arson. The illegal age limit to have excess to moonshine at family game night is now you have to be at least 10 years old and not having a juvenile record no younger than 16 years old.
I had to sit out from playing until I was 19 years old. Spent a lot of years pleading with juvenile court judges that I would change if they would give me another 8th or ninth chance to do right. To get the game started it was the host of family game night to have enough pennies and moonshine. They would need at least 10 jugs of moonshine and a thousand pennies. One time we even tried to hire my uncle Raymond and his cop partner to police one of our volatile game. It didn’t work because the two of them got to fighting over my butt naked drunken cousin Marylou. She was an Exhibitionist Narcissist whatever that is. The Exhibitionist Narcissist woman craves attention. Somehow, no matter who is talking or what else is going on, she will always manage to find a way to make it about her. She may do this gracefully with humor and a funny story or by abruptly interrupting the ongoing conversation and changing the topic to her or simply just get butt naked. All I know is every time she drinks the moonshine she starts ripping off her clothes and any man near her clothes.
I had a bad feeling in the summer of 88 and didn’t attend the monthly Pokeno family night game. It was a good thing that, that premonition hit me, because Luther my half brother from a different mother shot my cousin Wayne for blowing kisses at his sexy 19 year old wife Phyllis who was as dumb as a box of country rocks. I had been sleeping with her for months behind his back, keep it in the family was are slogan. She got so drunk off the moonshine that to stop him from killing Cousin Wayne she confessed as if she was talking to a room full of priest that she had been sleeping with me and that’s who’s she was truly in love with. My cell phone was blowing up with family members telling me I better head to Mexico because crazy and jealous Luther is gunning for me. I really wasn’t concerned about Luther because I knew one day in a bar with her he would find someone just as crazy as him over her. It happened 3 weeks later at Skelly’s Bar and Grill. Bald Eagle a half Indian who seriously thought he had taken my place, had fallen madly in love with the beautiful Phyllis and killed Luther. He got 30 years and excuse me for a minute while I get the door and let Phyllis in.
My 44 year old spinster niece Dizzy Diane the public library, librarian like to steal. One time after we all vowed not to fight or sell one of the bad ass kids to the dope man. Dizzy Diane stole the brand new decks of cards and ran out the back door shouting Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! There ain’t gonna be no Pokeno playing tonight. She must have forgotten she did that last month after drinking a whole jug of moonshine while quoting Shakespeare before we could decide who would be dealing the cards.
My brother Bart bit half of my Uncle Richards pointing finger off when he was supposedly pointing his finger at my mother. My mother had been dead for ten years at that time. She got into a deadly car accident after she swore that the devil was chasing her. The autopsy report cleared the driver because she charged into that parked car as if she was a ram or ewe. She died on the spot with a blood alcohol level 8 times the legal limit to walk let alone try and ram her head into a 1975 Fleetwood Cadillac. My sister Sally fell in love with the half missing finger and didn’t want to give it back so that it could be sewed back on. The police had to hit her with the stun gun twice. That moonshine wasn’t gonna let them take that partial finger without putting up a serious fight. Uncle Richard was screaming at my brother Bart that he was just pointing at my cousin Rosemary who was sniffing the couch pillows like a hound dog. Bart screams back and says that’s a lie!
In 1972 we had to end a game early because there was a blizzard in the desert of Iran. Our cousin Randy had been one of the 4,000 The blizzard claimed and wiped out entire villages such as Kakkan, Kumar and Sheklab. It took six days to rescue those trapped under that snow, many of whom had gone without food, water or medical help since the blizzard hit. To make matters worse, the extreme temperatures further spread a deadly strain of the flu with an infection rate of near 100 percent. The game may have been temporary suspended, but it didn’t stop the six of the 19 family members from spending a night in the county jail from urinating inside of cars to mooning old people while they were walking their dogs.
My grandfather who was a veteran from World War II didn’t go anywhere without wearing his M1 helmet. Someone stole it off his moonshine drunken head one family game night and placed it up under my little niece potty. When she came out of the bathroom carrying his helmet. Telling her mother that she boo booed. My grandfather woke up and accused my grandmother. She was standing by the stove heating up some grits. Do you remember the story of what happened to soul singer Al Green? We all have heard the story about the woman who threw hot grits on Al Green and many folks have even joked about it from time to time, calling him ‘Al “Grits” Green’ and such, but what many people either don’t know, or have long since forgotten about, is that the woman, Mary Woodson (Al Green’s then-girlfriend), immediately killed herself in Al Green’s bedroom after dousing him with grits, causing second and third degree burns on his back, chest and arms on that tragic night on October 18, 1974. As mad as my grandfather was he never went near that kitchen.
My aunt Kee-Kee brought her shih tzu dog to a family game night and someone skinned him like a rabbit and sautéed his cut pieces in a pan and cooked him. The funny thing about that incident that he tasted pretty good served as Pâté and hors d'oeuvre. She truly believed that one of the children left the door open and he ran away. She even offered a 500 dollar reward. My cousin Jeffery went out and stole a shih tzu to collect the reward money. It was a good thing that my Aunt Kee-Kee was color blinded because the replacement shih tzu was all black.
One family game night we got raided by the (ATF) Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency. My youngest sister called them and told them that her cheating husband Benny had 5 copper burning moonshine making stills working overtime in their garage. You would have thought that we were selling Methamphetamine (Methamphetamine is a white crystalline drug that people take by snorting it (inhaling through the nose), smoking it or injecting it with a needle. Some even take it orally, but all develop a strong desire to continue using it because the drug creates a false sense of happiness and well-being, a rush (strong feeling) of confidence, hyper activeness and energy. One also experiences decreased appetite. These drug effects generally last from six to eight hours but can last up to twenty-four hours. The first experience might involve some pleasure, but from the start, methamphetamine begins to destroy the user’s life), the way they broke into her home with one of them electric battering rams.
My nephew Zeb was so in love with that TV show Green Acres that he brought his pig Arnold Zipfel to game night. No one will ever be able to convince him that his prized pig demanded that he be placed on a spit with an apple in his mouth. His brother Lucas said that he couldn’t stand that greedy pig. There sister Florence use to wear aluminum foil from top to bottom and truly believed that by wearing a tin foil hat it will protect her from alleged radio and microwaves being beamed into her head for purposes of mind control. All that protection from ultraviolet rays and ray guns couldn’t protect her mind from the first sip of Grannies moonshine. Uncle Remis got shot because he went for his flask of moonshine when they told everyone to raise their hands in the air. He tried to sue, but he was 8 years in back arrearages payments for child support and was afraid to attend the court proceedings. His shyster lawyers got $350,000 unbeknown to him and he settle out of court for 5 dollars.
These days I don’t attend anymore. Us older clan members have left the tradition of Family game night to the young ins.