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Down and out at Yonkers Raceway and everywhere else there's Joker Poker (Jacks or Better) and an ATM


always imagined and hoped for).

To be in debt from gambling is one of the most disturbing,
gnawing, lingering feelings I've known - - still a problem (having
to pay the debt) long after the resolution to reform has
been made. Unless the debt is overwhelming, in which case
you may become a giddy, liberated, unafraid, unconcerned,
irresponsible, self-destructive, detached, superior, ironic bitter jester.

As an adolescent I'd meet new friends and they'd ask,
"You want to come over after school?"

And once there in the basement, "You want to play ping pong?"
they'd offer, innocently playing the host.

And my first, immediate and eager query was "Do you want to put money
on the game?"

To which they'd invariably be a bit taken aback,
uncomprehending (betting money? on ping pong?), but with
a bit of explanation and minimal prodding they'd invariably
agree to bet and very soon be caught up in the rush.

Lastly, I offer the tattoo on my upper arm of a pair of dice
totaling seven, accompanied by the disingenuous maxim,
"LIVE BY CHANCE" imprinted above it. This was a piece I had commissioned
while an Army boy in Germany at the too impressionable
age of 19. A piece that originally read "BORN TO LOSE" (done in Fort Lee, Virginia)
and had the dice totaling the crappy three, but which I had altered within months in response to the overwhelming scorn, contempt, disgust, misunderstanding
and the more than a few fistfights it provoked from my proud military
colleagues, none of whom were born to lose and didn't want me parading around announcing that I was.

We're at the next and almost final stage, reader. You can
imagine what happened when, a few years back, the author
found himself living in southwest Yonkers, a mere five-minute
car ride from Yonkers Raceway, home of the 1/2-mile harness
track, recently out of grad school, scanning The New York
Times classifieds for irrelevancies.

At the interview:

"Why do you want to work at World Yacht as a dishwasher?"

"Um, I think I can do a good job there."

Hmm, no work to define my life, suppose I should kill
myself. Or use leftover GSL money to gamble maniacally.
With much time and energy on my hands and no social
network (my college friends had gone off somewhere, I can
only assume, to think of cool and literary, sometimes anti-literary,
names for their bands), I would buy the Sports Eye in
the morning, handicap all day (occupation) and attend the
track almost every night, where I gambled in such a way that,
if I were to detail it, you would accuse me of exploiting
dysfunction for a good prurient read.

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