The range of topics that come up while standing dead on a craps table are limitless. One night in 1991, our game was open with no players and the subject was nicknames. One of the dealers, Julio, had been a professional boxer. He was lamenting that he might have had more success, if he had an intimidating nickname.(STOCK PHOTO) JULIO'S FACIAL SCARS AND PUFFY EYES WERE A CONSTANT, GRIM REMINDER THAT AN ADDED GIMMICK, LIKE A FEROCIOUS NICKNAME COULD ONLY HAVE HELPED HIS PRIZEFIGHTING CAREER.
JAMBALAYA IS A CAJUN DISH SIMILAR TO PAELLA. IT COMBINES, CHICKEN, SMOKED SAUSAGE AND VARIOUS SEAFOOD WITH CELERY, PEPPERS, ONIONS, RICE, VEGETABLES AND TOMATOES. THE WHOLE POT IS BOILED, SIMMERED AND FINALLY BAKED.
Jacquie Kennelly interrupted my Mudcat story and said, "Now that you mention it, my moniker was 'Jacqueline Kennedy' for a while...it felt like royalty compared to being called a tramp...I loved it." She then stared into Julio's eyes and said, "When you get back into boxing, I know a great nickname that will strike fear into all your opponents." Julio said, "I'm too old to get back into fighting." Jacquie smiled, batted her eyes and said, "That's okay, I like your face just as it is. But how do you say the vulture in Spanish?" When Jaime saw Julio's blank expression he said to him in Spanish that; it's a bird, like a condor. Then Jaime said to us, "the vulture is, el buitre." DIFFERENT CLASSIFICATIONS OF VULTURES ARE FOUND IN THE SOUTHWEST USA, THROUGHOUT LATIN-AMERICA, AFRICA AND IN EUROPE. THE ULTIMATE FLYING SCAVENGER, THEY ARE BEST KNOWN FOR FEASTING ON DEAD CARCASSES.
Joe Table said, "Yeah the word 'wee-tray' sounds like it starts with a 'W.' But it's spelled with a 'B.'" The Hispanicos, Julio, and Jaime cautiously nodded.
Jacquie cut in, "Hey Julio, from now on, I'm going to call you 'The Vulture.'" Julio shrugged, "Why? I'm not getting back in the ring" She said, "Because I want to play the vulture game with you?" "Vulture game?" he said, "What's the vulture game?" Jacquie said, "It's fun and easy...I play dead and you drag me back to your man-cave...and eat me."
Julio's nickname instantly became "Wee-Tray" or "The Vulture." It remained in our clique long after both he and Jacquie left the casino, (separately) for better jobs. Even now, whenever we refer to Julio, we call him, "The Vulture."
The vulture incident also created a new nickname for me. Those Latinos sarcastically played-off my nonexistent, cat-like reflexes as a craps dealer and shortened Mudcat to, "The Cat." Then, they translated it into Spanish. So to this day, (twenty years later), Joe Table, Jaime as well as BADLANDS and JS, still call me, "El Gato,"...and I love it!