52 Pick-Up

At the early age of 11, I was of left on my own to entertain yourself often.  Mom was in the AA and NA meetings that were like concentration camps…  She had just started getting clean, she was actually doing it now…

Her stitches in her forehead were healing nicely after a week or so.

We had moved in with this woman who had become Mom’s “sponsor”, an incredibly compassionate woman… she took mom in, along with me, literally off the streets, after only knowing each other for MAYBE a week from frequenting the meetings…  Mom had never really tried AA or NA before…  I believe that it was one of the best things she ever did for herself…

She managed to stay sober for years, after a relapse or two…
But she kept it up, and she “kept on coming back” to wanting to be sober, and she got her life together.

I am pondering what part of the house she kept the cookie tin full of those little medallions in…

I recall seeing her 5 year AA medallion as I went through all her personal items after…

.. .. .. .. .. .. ..

After what happened.

It was during these times that I saw her rise above any all obstacles to get what she wanted, and keep what she already had.

It was also a time…

Where I got taught how to play a little game called:

“52 Pick-Up”

The teenage daughter of mom’s AA sponsor was having issues with her boyfriend.  I’ll call her Kris, because it’s possible that it’s one of the syllables in her name… this was decades ago, so some of the details are a bit foggy now.

She was a very attractive girl… wholesome, tall (from my recollection), young, and somewhat wild…  the kind of wild that already knew living life like she had so far, couldn’t last long… and already had the attitude of someone with far more years of “partying experience”.  Something tells me that it had to do with her own mother being “in the program” also.

We would play card games till we were blue in the face… we used to keep a steady rotation of Television (Mostly Soap Opera’s), Swimming Pool, Card Games, and random adventures around the apartment complex.  I recall her teaching me a few card games, but I can’t exactly remember which ones, nor how to play them…  she also taught me far more valuable things in life.  Things that to this day, I will never forget.

I was one of those “thirsty info-sponge-like” kids that constantly wanted to know how everything worked, and why things were the way they were…  why people would act how they do, things of that nature.  I was a smart kid, but I was extremely shy and uncomfortable around new faces.  This girl was a lot different though, she had a way of making me feel comfortable around her, and I was able to be myself in such a strange environment… under strange circumstances.

I cannot thank her enough for that…

I remember talking to her about “relationships”, more specifically…


What it means to love someone…

How do you know when you are in love?

Why do people do such crazy things for it?

And what does it feel like?

I was far too young to process all the information she was giving me in its entirety, but I took with me the small portions that I could understand, and a working knowledge…

That I had a lot to learn.

I remember sitting in the living room as she was talking on the phone to her “on again off again” boyfriend of at least a few months… the way she sounded when she spoke to him, and the things he did that would make her upset.  I guess she was trying to stay sober herself, for the sake of her mother.

She had a similar tale to mine of a tragic drunken mishap with her mother…

One day while her mother was running a bath, she passed out in the suds and slipped underwater.  Kris had no idea how long her mother had been in there, and she never questioned how long her baths normally took…

Yet, she confided in me that something told her…

.. .. ..

Something told her to go check on her on that day.

She found her mother completely submerged underwater for an unknown amount of time…

She told me that she grabbed her mom by the hair and pulled her back up to get some air, she remained unconscious for a while, but after a little oxygen, she began breathing normally again.

There’s a good chance… that she saved her mothers life.

I do believe that was what made me feel that I could trust her… the way she could tell me her story and I could understand that “panic tone” in her re-enactment of the story due to my similar experience with mom splitting her head open on the corner on the walls in my uncles apartment just a few weeks earlier.

To say the least, it had been a real unique set of experiences for me;

for ANYONE… and particularly at my young age.

Having this babysitter / new friend made things all the more interesting for me, and I was actually starting to enjoy the entire experience at some point.  I, in fact was bored out of my skull due to my Nintendo’s (That’s right, the ORIGINAL N.E.S. baby!) Video port being screwed up from overuse and abuse of all the moving it had been through over the years, and I had NO video games to play.  At my age then, and the amount of time I entertained myself with gaming…

that was a HUGE deal back then.

Ironically, I probably would have never had a lot of the experiences that I did had it NOT stopped working… so things have a funny way of happening for a reason.

We continued to have our little routine of, waking up, eating breakfast, watching soap operas, and then hanging out by the pool, and we would mix a few hours of card games in between.

One day, she started telling me about this “really cool game” that I had never heard of.

“There is another really easy game I could teach you, but I don’t think you’ll like it, it’s not all that fun.”

Being the weird kid I was, (and still am) I have always gotten a thrill from liking the “abstract” and thought that a game like that may actually be:

The Best Game EVER!

I was SO curious, that I in fact started HOUNDING her to teach me this game.

“Show me!  Show me!”

She wouldn’t do it.

Despite my best efforts, and I mean BEST, I HOUNDED the $^*&% out of her for hours upon hours, over the better part of a week or two for her to SHOW ME how to play this mysterious game!!!!!

One day, while we were hanging out at the house, her pseudo-boyfriend called again…  I guess he was still trying to win back her heart.  And now that I’m older, I can see why.  This girl had every quality that a man could ask for:

She was smart, she was strong willed, she was NOT NAIVE, she was sexy, she was compassionate and caring, she was open minded and considerate, she was beautiful…

She was passionate.

Now that I’m older…

I can also see why…

He was a fool.

Once you lose the heart of a woman, it’s next to impossible to do ANYTHING right… let alone actually win her BACK.

Her guy friend started telling her how he feels and the like, at that point, she became irritated and angry with him and began more or less emotionally pummeling him.

She hung up,

He called back

She answers


And hangs up.

He calls back.

Eventually, you would think that he would give up.


He kept calling and calling… and calling… and… well…

(Keep in mind this is during the early 1990’s “pre-cell phone era”)

She decided to pick it up and just place the phone receiver off the hook so that all he could hear was the background noise.

Rather than hang up, and call again, more than likely KNOWING that the phone was going to STAY off the hook and he would not be able to call back…

He began making extremely loud noises.

Ha ha, I have to hand it to him for being persistent. But… in many ways thank him for creating the space that taught me some extraordinary life lessons and love, life and the pursuit of a woman…

He would squawk SO loud that he was in fact louder than the Television in his peak of attention attempts.

That’s how I have this memory in the first place.

Now all I can think about today, is how awesome this girl must have been to this guy at some point or another for him to try so hard on something that was just NOT going to happen…

She must have given one HELL of a blowjob, had beer flavored nipples, or a “trick snatch”… SOMETHING special… because this guy was beyond determined to make her fall in love with him…

All Over Again.


I feel you bro…

I really do.

The most interesting part about this first real look at what it means to “Love” another person at a younger age, and the first exposure I’ve ever had to “heartbreak” and pain…. was that she herself was having a hard time overcoming this…

She didn’t like to talk about it.

52 Pick-Up - The Hard Way - She Didn't Like To Talk About it

But she knew this other guy truly loved her… it was just that he had hurt her in some way in the past and she was just not able to let it go… not able to forgive…

Deep down, I always had a soft spot for this guy.

I never even met him.

A few days later, while we were hanging out down by the pool, a gentleman walked over and managed to have a “private conversation” with my lady friend.  He was a typical “player” type, with the trendy hair style and the sharp dress.  He had the air of confidence and bullshit, and was even slightly soft spoken, yet without the squeak in his voice.

Later that evening, after a little cooing from Krys about the pretense of “hanging out” with this guy to her mother, we ended up hanging out in his apartment, which was just downstairs from the apartment we were all staying in.

52 Pick-Up - The Hard Way - Slicks Living Room

I really am not sure what happened, she was the kind of girl that would normally get all tore up and party down with a guy like that… but I suppose she was cleaning up and taking her time more.  She definitely wanted to get to know this guy, but I’m not sure what his intentions were with such a younger girl.  Although… it was Florida… The 8 years or so in age difference probably didn’t much matter there.

And let’s not forget about her gentleman caller… Who she most certainly had feelings for…  but this situation she was now in, being my baby sitter, yet going off into this new guys bedroom for a small stint as I sat in “Slick’s living room” and played his Mrs. PacMan Handheld video game was how she was coping with her pain.


I don’t think anything major happened, but it definitely changed a lot of things for the young lady involved.  She started becoming distant, and obviously sad… perhaps even a bit angry and bitter.

This had been going on and off for weeks now, but I was determined to make her smile.

I hated seeing her so sad…

One night while all four of us, Myself, Krys, My Mother, and her mother all we at the “Mecca of Alcoholics Anonymous” that I became so familiar with… I was trying my best to cheer the young lady up.  I had noticed that a few other guys were giving her attention that she would have much rather NOT received, and was trying to kind of be her distraction and save her from the situation.  I finally grabbed a seat next to her in a remotely quiet location in comparison to anywhere else in the place, and again started asking about the mysterious card game she STILL had been REFUSING to teach me.

“Come on!  I wanna know how to play!” I BEGGED her as she shuffled this weird “special poker deck” that to this day I have no idea what it was about… something like an extra set of high cards for each suit, it was something like 74 cards instead of the usual 52.

She had firmness to her shuffle… she was not in the best of moods, and I was attempting to bring her out of it…  I thought for sure that if I got her to pay attention to teaching me how to play a new card game, that it would make her feel better about what ever it was that was plaguing her mind…

“You really wanna know?”  she asked me with a gleam in her eye.

“YES! I WANNA KNOW!  SHOW ME!” I answered.

52 Pick-Up

she gruffed.


And with one motion after she fanned her shuffled deck and palmed the cards, she finished the rest of her sentence…

“Pick ‘Em Up!”

As she said these words, she fanned every last card…

right into my upper lip, my forehead, and my nose.

52 Pick-Up - The Hard Way

She quickly jumped up and practically ran away after that, without saying another word.

I was left sitting there…

Feeling more humble than I ever thought possible…

The events of the past few weeks had all flashed in my face.

I had BEGGED her profusely to show me how to play this game that now has me picking up playing cards, ironically from a deck that was larger than 52, and she reluctantly taught me…

The Hard Way.

I quickly realized how annoying I must have been being, despite my pure intentions.  I also realized that she had sustained from doing what she had just done for quite some time even though I was literally ASKING for it.

It took me to catch her… in that weak moment, that moment of pain and anguish, for her to unleash the potential to humble me so incredibly deeply.

It’s a moment that I learned from, and strangely enough, when I think back to it… I am in fact STILL learning from it.

It’s a moment FULL of lessons that I’ll never forget.


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