Kevin Cool: More Than a Poker Game

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A poker game is a common social activity formerly taken for granted. Not any more. Kevin Cool has this Perspective.

Nearly every month for 20 years I drove to my friend Seth’s house in San Francisco for a poker game. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. Either way, I always left feeling lucky. Because those evenings were only partly about poker and mostly about the friendships. Along with the laughter, we have seen each other through deaths and divorces, the arrival of grandkids and the onset of retirement.

Our nights together always started in the kitchen, devouring Seth’s quesadillas while we talked about sports and TV shows and random topics such as who was funnier, Richard Pryor or Robin Williams. And then we played cards and made fun of each other for three hours or so.

My poker crew is a community I treasured even in good times, and never more so since we stopped playing 14 months ago, locked down by COVID‐19.

I’ve missed those guys all the more because of the other losses I’ve experienced.

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I was laid off last July and four months after that my 83‐year‐old mother contracted the virus in the nursing home where she lived. She died two weeks later with only an attending nurse at her bedside. We buried her the day after Thanksgiving.

The pandemic has robbed me and so many others of things we cherished, but it also has underscored what we value most. As a result, the primary emotion I experience these days is not regret or despair, but gratitude. I’ve remained healthy, along with the rest of my family and friends, including my poker buddies. And now we’re all vaccinated.

Conversations have begun about scheduling a game, maybe this summer. Putting that poker game back on my schedule would feel like a different kind of inoculation, a shot of normalcy.

It’s been 14 long, hard months, but I still feel lucky. And I am eager to play again.

With a Perspective, I’m Kevin Cool.

Kevin Cool is a freelance writer and editor in Half Moon Bay.