Over the weekend I read a post that my friend of 25 years, Gretchen, wrote. She is the author of Second Blooming. She is wickedly funny. And usually inappropriate. Always has been. And that’s one of the reasons that I adore her.
Gretchen was discussing the art of gambling in her post, and she took me back many many years to a young time in our lives wherein we played a weekly poker game with a bunch of characters. Some famous. Some infamous.
Her post brought back wonderful memories of an innocent, carefree time of great growth. And great loss. As she mentions in her post, one of our poker playing buddies was a very promising actor, Brandon Lee. Brandon was the son of Bruce Lee, and as you may know, Brandon was killed in a horrible accident on the set of “The Crow”. He died on March 31st, 1993. It seems nearly impossible that he’s been gone for nearly 20 years.
A few weeks ago, I finally watched “The Crow” on Netflix. Up until that time I have been unable to bring myself to view it. I’m glad that I did because I think he would have been proud of the work. (Warning: it is very dark, and very violent.) After all of these many many years, memories came flooding back. Brandon was one of the most upbeat, happy-go-lucky people that I’ve ever known. He had a wicked sense of humor, and was a fiercely loyal friend to those around him. I still hear his laughter in my head. I still treasure funny little notes he left behind.
About this picture: From what I remember, Gretchen’s childhood friend had a long distance crush on Brandon, so Gretchen brought a school picture of her to one of our poker games. Brandon happily took a picture with the picture, which Gretchen gave to her friend. The cigar was simply a bonus. And required for most poker games.
The majority of that sweet group of friends have scattered to the far corners of the country, all have families, all are middle aged. I reminisced to Gretchen that whenever I think about that time in our lives, the soundtrack that plays in my mind is a song called “Bob Dylan’s Dream” and the version that I love was sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary. The songwriter falls asleep and dreams of a group of friends from long ago. During a much simpler time.
Bob Dylan’s Dream
While riding on a train goin’ west
I fell asleep for to take my rest
I dreamed a dream that made me sad
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had
With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon
Where we together weathered many a storm
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn
By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung
Our words were told, our songs were sung
Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
Talkin’ and a-jokin’ about the world outside
With haunted hearts through the heat and cold
We never thought we could ever get old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one
As easy it was to tell black from white
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split
How many a year has passed and gone
And many a gamble has been lost and won
And many a road taken by many a friend
And each one I’ve never seen again
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that
Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.
I played my last hand of poker at Brandon’s house in the early 90’s, before he began traveling so much for work. As in every game, I had my “what beats what” list sitting beside me. I was a horrible player. But since we had a quarter ante, with a $2 limit, I never lost the rent money.
I think about those dear friends from time to time. Some I keep in touch with, others I’ve haven’t seen or talked to in nearly 20 years. But they will always live on in my heart. And in Bob Dylan’s dream.