One of the things that lets me know that I have made it is that I have a seat in a local poker game. Sure, other things like a mortgage and lower back pain are also subtle signs of my being one of "them" but being able to say that I play poker with 'the guys' really drives home for me that there are guys who are not completely ashamed to be affiliated with me. At night.
Let me tell you about this game, because as poker games go, this one is something special. You have a population of between 4 and 9 (depending on the number of people who show up. You see, that's how we compute population -- by counting the people) and we play a few standard games. We usually start at 9pm on a Saturday night and go until between 1 and 4 depending on the demands of Sunday morning and the food that has been provided. Hot dogs and pretzels or chips are often the local fare though we have had variants on steak and burgers as well. One game even had pizza, then later meat, and then way later, pizza again. Beer, water, soda and liquor are available but don't take this as an invite. This is a closed game and I'm on the inside while you are not. "Deal" with it. HA.
The buy in is between 3 and 5 dollars and the ante is a nickel. Chips run as follows: white is 5 cents, red is a dime and the blue/black chips are a quarter. So a big raise is anything over 10 cents. Understand this -- I'm a teacher so for me, maybe a quarter raise is a chunk of my salary, but I'm playing with people who negotiate deals with more zeroes in them than I can figure (assuming that there is a positive integer before the zeroes) and yet they worry about a nickel raise. Some of these guys could easily call a twenty cent bet but if the cards aren't just right (or, in at least one case, if they actually know their cards and know they can't win) they fold. That's class. These guys could play in games based in folding money but they play in the spare-change league and take it all very seriously. These games, meeting once every god-knows-when are a highlight for me.
Thing is, I can't find the equivalent level of competitiveness in other areas, especially softball. I recall a scene from WKRP (maybe from this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6aLb1NVTAc&feature=player_embedded) in which an outfielder sat in a lawn chair and there was a keg available at first base. I'm not saying that I want a real keg-league which demands 16 ounces for every base, but I don't want even "moderately fast pitch." I want to enjoy the game but still play as hard as seems reasonable. And I don't want the games at 8AM on a Sunday. I want to get a pick-up game going with a bunch of like-minded guys (moderately lazy but who love the game) who all want, on a Sunday mid-day, to spend some time in the sun and maybe, sweat a tiny bit. The game is serious without being grave. The banter is good-willed and amusing and hot dogs are readily available. Each swing counts, but the overall experience is fun. And maybe, a full wetbar in between second and third would be nice, too.