Songwriter: Kurt Cobain
Original Release: Nevermind
Definitive Version: None
Man, a lot of songs on this list conjure a sense of fall 1994. It’s a bit difficult to describe, although I’ve tried: falling leaves, the smell of wood burning in a fireplace, hiking around The Anderson’s store. Many are common memories, but I can really place them specifically to 1994. This song is one of those.
Of course, I was familiar with it before then, but when I hear it now, I think specifically to a poker night in the fall of 1994. It must have been a night where we went to Dave’s home out East of Reynoldsburg, because I recall Steve was in my German Village apartment bedroom helping me to pick out music for the evening.
The only reason he would have been doing that is if we were driving together. My apartment was on the way to Dave’s from Steve’s house, so that makes sense, although now that I think about it, it seems more like we just ended up at Andy’s, because Dave’s setting was more self-contained.
Whatever, it was Steve’s first chance to see the library I had amassed in the years that I had been away, so it took a while to pick out everything. Of course, he pulled Toad and STP, and then he found Nevermind. He read the song list. Hey, what’s Drain You? Is that the one that starts (in a nasally whine) Oh maybe you are nothing since I have met you? Umm ... Yeah, that’s the one. (Before lyric sites on the Internet, who really knew what the heck Kurt was saying anyway?) Let’s take that.
Maybe there was hope for Steve’s musical tastes after all.
As I mentioned, I loved poker night. We were serious about our play, as serious as you could be when you’re playing every game in the books EXCEPT straight poker—in other words, none. Texas Hold’Em? Fugedaboudit. Black Mariah? Or Herb? Or Hi-lo Roll Your Own? Yes, please.
The dealer got to name the game, and my first game was always as close to actual poker as we got: Jacks, Trips—Jacks or better to open; three of a kind or better to close. If someone has Jacks, you bet; and if no one could do better than that, everyone tosses in his cards and you go around again. If you fold, you’re out completely. It was a designated early pot-builder.
My favorite game, as you might suspect, was Night Baseball. You’re dealt seven cards face down—you never look at them—and flip them up one at a time until your hand was the best one showing. Then you bet. Threes and nines usually were wild, and a four meant you could buy another card for a pre-determined fee.
The best game of Night Baseball in all my times of playing was head to head against Steve years before he discovered Nevermind on my CD carousel. It was a weird game in that nobody had anything, so my pair of Queens knocked out a few players.
Steve flipped over a third Jack but had only one card left, and I mockingly told him to fold, because I had a third Queen in my stack. I had two cards left and of course had no idea what I was holding. He didn’t take the bait. We bet. Another guy went out, the pot kept growing, and then it was my turn.
Now Steve and I were head to head. I flipped over a third Queen. What did I say? I bet. He stayed in and flipped over a four and made the buy from the top of the deck. His bonus card was a fourth Jack to much tumult at the table.
My stone-faced comment: You should fold. I have a fourth Queen right here, and I pointed at my card. Steve refused: I’m not folding with four jacks showing to your three queens. OK …
He bet the max amount, which I think was 50 cents back then. What the heck, I’m way ahead tonight: In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought. I called … and flipped a fourth Queen. That’s the poker equivalent of a walk-off homer that you called from the dugout in the 8th inning.
I set a winnings record that night that took years to beat, Steve would continually remind me—a whopping $29 profit. Of course that was back when you rarely saw any paper at the table. Eventually, the pennies disappeared, followed by the silver, and the buy-ins increased so you couldn’t even play unless you put in $20 to start. It was just a matter of time before my record fell, but what the heck, all of Babe Ruth’s records fell, too.