I parked my car on the side of the street and stood beside the fence that bordered the 16th hole of my country club, like some stooge who holds the cue cards for the dialogue in a porno. The grass was lush and I saw a foursome soldiering up the fairway. It was now official, the golf season had started without me. My fingers were hooked into the wire mesh above my head and my back was soaking up a steady stream of UV rays. All was beautiful, except for the fact that my financial sitiuation was in dire straights.
The course was in great shape and it's familiar rolling hills made me nostalgic of a time when I was a kid and I could spend all summer playing the game I love. I'm an adult now, with adult responsibilities, bills to pay, and a bankroll that's suffering from George Costanza-like shrinkage. I selfishly didn't want the rain and cold weather to end because I lost my membership money when the Washington Capitals couldn't close out the Flyers at home in Game 7 during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I thought the bet had good value, but I may have let the performance of Russian phenomenon Alex Ovechkin in Game 6 blind me like a lover who bets with his heart. I'm going through a slump that could rival the Washington Generals. If I had any luck, I wouldn't be on the outside looking in. If the Mets just could have covered a couple nights ago I would be strolling down fairways today instead of catching a golfer’s tan from the sidewalk.
I thought I had a nice edge when the Mets hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates for their home opener at Shea Stadium in the middle of last week. The Mets had their ace pitcher, Johan Santana, starting on five days of rest, so I laid a nice chunk on them and needed a win by a deuce. I took the runline because my bankroll couldn't survive paying the juice on the moneyline with the Mets laying heavy chalk. The gambling gods must have been trying to tell me something when the game got rained out, but all my inner voice kept telling me was that if I liked Johan on five days of rest, I should love him on six.
So like the degenerate I am, I doubled the bet. Long story short, the Mets stranded more guys than a Boy Scouts camping trip gone wrong and the relief pitcher gave up more hits in one inning than Santana gave up in six innings. The Mets end up winning 5-4 in extra innings, but I took the loss right over the head. I haven't always been 'The Cooler'. There have been moments of greatness. But the days of winning 12k at poker and cashing in 30k after a six-day blackjack bender seem like a lifetime ago. I've had my runs on sports too, but these victories were fleeting, but what else can a gambler do?
We gamble. That's what we do. After those huge wins I should have been smart and injected the cash into my bankroll and focused on whatever it was that I was winning with at the time, instead of getting fall down drunk and buying this Cadillac. Bryan Brown puts it all in perspective when his character Douglas Coglin says this famous quote to a young Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail: “If i would have stuck to what I knew best, which was basically nothing, I would have been fine...but, I invested everything into stocks and commodities, and blew the whole f---ing lot.”
Now I'm stuck. I have no choice but to chase my losses, and hope I run down a golf membership at the end of this rat race. Now that the weather has thawed out the course and it's ready for play I'm losing money every day I'm not out there knocking down birdies and fist pumping in these pretty boys’ faces. Hustling the pigeons and pelicans who hang around the golf club looking for action is what I do. It's my bread and butter. Not having my membership is like a cab driver losing his license on a sloppy DUI, it's a loss of my livleyhood.
Instead of making straight bets, I've resorted to working the sucker’s bet of three and four-game parlays to try to smack a couple dimes out of these bookies. Last Saturday night I thought my problems were over. Bet the Pistons, Jim Furyk to beat Carlos Villegas, Bolton to beat Sunderland and the Montreal Canadiens to win at home. The Pistons are always solid and I religiously take Jim Furyk or Stewart Cink on the weekends because they are such blue collar, hard working men. Bolton easily won their match 2-0 and when the Habs had a stranglehold on Philadelphia mid-way through the second period, I busted the golf clubs out from out of the back of the closet and dusted them off.
Faster than a three-putt at Augusta, the Flyers scored three goals and my fantasies were relegated back to the driving range. Although I lost, the wager made sense to me. Montreal's star goalie was getting a chance to redeem himself after a few bad outings and I thought he would stand on his head. I was wrong. Pressure can be a funny thing. After I put the head covers back on my clubs, I stuffed them back into the closet. That's when they started mocking me, like my Eldorado does when it sits in the driveway begging me for a drive when I don’t even have enough for gas money.
Besides bad luck, desperation, and a bankroll that would make any woman point and laugh at, I'm also working with a pathetic selection of games to wager on. What has my gambling carreer come to when I'm watching the scoreboards for arena football games and cheering for the Cleveland Gladiators and the Arizona Rattlers to cover? How can I justify laying down a man size wager on playoff hockey or basketball or some ubiquitus soccer game? Baseball isn't my forte, I just hope I don't starve to death before the NFL kicks off.
As the sun warmed my back, like a succesfull wager warms my pocket, I scrambled for ways to get back to the country club. I could work a little overtime, find a second job.
But nah. I'm just gonna find a couple locks on the menu next week and lay the rest of my working capital down on some sexy action. Wish me luck.
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