It all started innocently enough (don’t they all??). There was an 18-hole golf course in the morning, a group of some great friends, current relatives, and future relatives. We had some harmless bar-hopping from the course back to our eventual conclusion for the evening – a small rural town that had everything we needed – great Italian food, a few adult beverages, a semi-private basement-housed casino, and a hotel. Great company and great times were all I asked for. It turned out that I got that… plus the story below.
I’m giving our main character the alias of ‘Jim’ from here on out. I do this because it’s common and I can use ‘James’, ‘Jimmy’, or ‘Jim’ depending on what the situation calls for. In any case, it’s not his real name. More on present-day James later, but for now we’ll travel back to 2010-2011.
Old Jimmy loved to have a good time. Golf, softball, football, handball, and beers were all at the top of the list. He was a young guy, similar in age to me, and his wife was also going through an intensive graduate program, so there was a decent amount of free-time on our respective hands. As we had shared a few drinks and rec-league sports teams over the past year or so, we got to know each other well enough for me to ask and for him to be stoked about accepting the invite to join in my bachelor party festivities.
As my only locally-based friend attending, James offered to drive us both up to this rural town. I graciously accepted and we were on our way.
Now, I had been through a few of these bachelor parties in the past and I felt that I had a good handle on the range of outcomes available for the evening. I had seen things get dark quickly at other parties and then I had also seen a few that ended abruptly due to lack of a good time. We were aiming for that sweet-spot right in the middle. And for the first 12-ish hours, that’s exactly where we were (golf started around 0730). We had surrounded ourselves with good-natured responsible folks that were all just out for a good time. Because of the level of experience and professionalism of our planning commission, this day was perfect (think – sitting under a pergola drinking a nice glass of red with your closest friends sharing stories of the past, present, and future. Sunshine, but not too hot. Adult beverages, but not too many…).
My concern started to mount in the semi-private basement-housed casino, about 12 hours into the day when Jimmy leaned over and asked me, “Hey man. Any interest in heading to [the casino] tonight?”
I don’t think that statement needs a qualification as to ‘why’ choosing to go to the casino may not be the best idea, but I’ll cover it just in case it comes up again:
- The closest casino is about a 1.5-hour drive from where we were,
- There is a drive required in order to get there,
- At this point in the evening, it may not be the best idea to begin wagering hard-earned dollars on various gambling endeavors, and
- We were enjoying the evening to this point – if it ‘aint broke…?
I politely avoided the question and we forged onward once more into the evening. One thing led to another and the next thing I know it’s after midnight and the 3 of us out-of-towners (Jimmay, Chuck (good buddy), and me) were being responsibly driven to our hotel by an interested third-party. The casino question was broached once or twice more throughout the night, but my passive-aggressive-self didn’t think too much about it, and as far as Chuck and I knew – that was that. We checked into the room, my head hit the pillow, and I got to 1-Mississ… before I was out.
The night was over. Or was it???
I was roused awake by the continual, loud, and deliberate knocking at the door, almost like the individual had been there attempting entry for a while now. A groan and a quick check of the clock led me to believe – on good authority – that the time was 5:30 am-ish. My father-in-law (FIL) wasn’t set to pick us up until about 7:00, so I stayed there wondering, “who could this be at the door…?”
A quick check of the room had my eyes scan the other bed. Chuck = present and accounted for. The makeshift floor bed was next up. James = AWOL.
…Still knocking at the door…
At this point, there was only one conceivable option. I grabbed my 3rd pillow and threw it at Chuck. “Hey man, someone’s at the door.” (as if he wasn’t aware). Without a sound and without opening his eyes, Chuck rose up, opened the door, then fell back into bed.
Jim walked in – “Man, what a night!”
I had a million questions for him relating to his absence and that statement, but now that we had officially not left a man behind, my eyes closed and I sought after the precious 1.5 hours of sleep that awaited me.
I’m not sure if it was a well-check or a preemptive “I hope you guys are up and ready when I get there,” but my FIL called around 7:00 to let us know he was en route. With everyone up at the obnoxiously high-volumed ringtone and a 20-minute window before pickup, the inquisition was on. It only took one question.
Chuck – “Where were you last night?”
Jim (paraphrased) – “That casino sounded like a good idea, so I started thinking… I walked over to the gas station around 1:00 when we got to the hotel and asked a couple of people if they’d be willing to take me there and back.”
Us – “…(mouths agape, eyes wide, no words, WT_??)…”
Back to Jimmay – “Eventually, one guy said he was interested so I offered him $100 to take me there and bring me back after an hour or so. He said he was game and we headed out. I gave him another $100 to play at the tables but he burned through that pretty quick then he just kinda chilled and watched me gamble over my shoulder. We had a few drinks, he drove me back to the gas station, and here I am.”
Us – “&@*!(%*@&% @(#*%&@(#)%*!!!!… You did what?!?! How are you still alive? What kind of car did this guy drive (beat up truck)? What games did you play? Why didn’t he gamble with the $100 you gave him to drive you? That sounds like a nice date. What was his name?”
James – “Oh, his name was ‘Cub.’”
Our response – “You gave $100 to a guy named ‘Cub’ with a beat up old truck, at a gas station, in the middle of the night, in rural America to drive you to a casino, gamble, have a few drinks, then bring you back… and you’re still alive? This has to be a top 5 bachelor party story ever.”
We were still completely shocked, a little groggy, and constantly firing questions when my phone rang and I found out our ride had arrived. If you were auditing the hotel’s financial records, they would’ve shown James occupied a room that evening, but now you and I know the truth – it was the best 90 minutes of hotel sleep James had ever had. (He did sleep the rest of the way home in the car)
Why now, you may be asking? (That story took place years ago and I’ve been blogging for about 1.5 years now). Well, it just so happens that Jim has completely turned that portion of his life around. He’s been sober for over a year now and is really making some significant spiritual progress. His recent exploits in the church have reminded me of a time when things, attitude, and perspective were a little different. I write this story to tell our anonymous Jim to – keep up the good work, sir! I’m enjoying watching your journey from afar.
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