Thursday, July 06, 2006


My saint of a mother had long suspected that something was amiss with respect to my gambling hobby. She was married to a problem gambler, and consequently she had a front row seat for the misery that ensued there. Most of that took place before I was four or five years old, from what I understand. I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall -- a conscious, cognizant fly on the wall, that is-- to watch my father in his gambling heyday. He attempted to shield his kids from what he was up to. And he was not delinquent in his fatherly duties: playing catch and going to ballgames and dressing up like Santa Claus. The thing that stuck out about those days was that they’d be briefly, but consistently, punctuated by phone calls he had to make. For instance:

“Wanna have a snowball fight?”
“Yeah! Yay!”
“O.K. -- put on your boots and get bundled up. I’ve got to make a call first.”

“I’ve got to make a call.” It became a joke in the house. I vaguely recall that these calls had to do with the names of exciting, far-off cities like Baltimore and San Diego and the recitation of numbers. Suffice to say he wasn’t discussing the national weather forecast or planning a vacation.

So when my mother discovered my bank statements, replete with overdraft notices and a score of sketchy entries for hundreds of dollars apiece by vendors with names like “GLOBALSPORTSLTD” or whatever, she went crazy. She told me in between sobs that I was going to ruin my life. I agreed. I wouldn’t gamble anymore, we agreed. I meant it. Three months later, I set a personal record: I played poker in a casino eight days in a row. During final exams, no less. I think a lot of the relevant literature would suggest that I was seeking attention. Trying to get caught. But I disagree. Mostly I was just trying to get even.


Post a Comment

<< Home