The Kettle Social club started with Sven and his friend Zeb (short for Zebalebadingalingadingdongshoobop). Sven and Zeb have been friends since middle school. In college, they discovered that late nights combined with gallons of coffee and cartons of cigarettes rendered them intelligent and interesting, so they began hanging around at the Kettle every night. I began dating Sven in January of 1994 and was absorbed seamlessly into the group, bringing along my friends, who brought along their friends. Before we knew it, we had a "core group" of about 8 people, with additional pals that brought the group to as many as 20 people. We had some real characters.
Cowboy Dave, for example, was a pipe fitter, chess player, and AA sponsor who had the most colorful way of putting things. His standard greeting to me was, "Come sit on Paw-Paw's knee." To this day, Sven talks like Cowboy Dave when he's trying to be cute.
Drew was a bit older than most of us, and was a semi-professional magician who worked at the Texas Renaissance Festival. He would bring his latest card tricks to wow mostly me, who was the only one at the table who didn't get how they worked.
Danny, the aforementioned Minister of MP, was (at the time) an aspiring stand-up comedian whose humor was based on surprising you with something completely unexpected, then repeating it again and again until it was funny. One night he had me in stitches for hours by chanting "It's a human thumb!" and showing me his thumb. Really. You kind of had to be there.
Richard was the chess player in his 70's who left the group when he reconnected with his high school sweetheart, who he married.
Cowhig had a pet 'possum. I held it on my shoulder once.
Kim and Tom were our on-again, off-again couple.
Robert was an usher at my wedding.
Owen missed the wedding (he overslept) but he was there when my dad died.
I think my love for all of these folks can be summed up by the following quote from Danny, left on my Facebook wall:
"I've got a heart full of love and a hand full of smackin'."
And I know he means it.