9-2-5 or “The Nine Deuce Five” will probably always be my favorite combination.  My dad always played our birthdays for trifecta’s as a kid when I went to Longacres with him.  I was the 5-1-8 for May 18th.  My sisters was 11-5 for an exacta and my dad’s was 6-1-4 for June the 14th.  We didn’t do it all the time, but every once in a while my dad would play the birthday combos.
The birthday trifecta was mastered however by a friend of mine.  Chris.  His birthday is September 25th so when he would go to the track with me he would always play the 9-2-5.  I mean every time there was a nine horse race he would.  We always attended the races at Emerald Downs, and in recent years, finding a nine horse field there is like seeing Sasquatch, it happens, but not too often.  But even if there is only 1 or 2 nine horse fields while we’re there, he’ll play the “nine-deuce-five”.

I’ll never forget one night, Chris played his 9-2-5 and we were on the apron watching the race.  The field came barreling down the stretch and the 9 took over the lead late, winning at 6/1.  There was a mad scramble for the minor awards, and the 5 was on the outside and was in the mix.  Chris looked at me afterwards and said “Fuck Ball (I’ve known him 18 years, he’s never called me Jason, only Ball or J-Ball)  I didn’t see the Deuce anywhere”.    I told Chris, “I think he was down on the rail, that might have been him getting up.”

We ran to the replay screen and sure as shit the two was flying up the rail and I told Chris “Dude I think you might have got this man.”  The 2 was 40/1.  The five was a favorite, but when the 9-2-5 flashed on the board, Chris, still keeping his beer still in his left hand, pumped his right fist in the air and screamed.  He got back $887 for his one dollar straight bet.  I figure, he goes to the track 5 or 7 times a season, and there are maybe 2 nine horse fields each day, so he can probably make his 9-2-5 bets for the next 40 years and still be up.  I know he hit it another time for $125 bucks, so that adds another 5 or 10 years.

It’s Chris birthday and I always laugh when it’s 9-2-5.  Chris is one of my favorite people in the world.  When my dad died, he’s whose house I went to.  When he got married, I was standing a few feet from him.  If I ever get married, I hope he’ll be my best man.

Happy Birthday Carp

Guitar Center

So I made a pilgrimage to Guitar Center last week.  Actually I went three separate times.  I’ve been thinking about buying an electric guitar again.  About every three years I seem to re-visit my Metallica phase, and it’s kind of hard to listen to their music and not want to pick up a guitar and play those songs.  they are so fun and challenging to play.  And it’s not the same on my acoustic guitar.  But walking into Guitar Center brings with it an absolutely sick feeling.  It’s a reminder of all the musical things I sacrificed to continue my gambling habit.  When I tell you I was spoiled when it came to musical instruments, I was spoiled when it came to musical instruments.  My burgeoning love of playing and writing music happened to coincide with my mom’s business taking off, so cash was flowing and Christmas’ was always plentiful.  Guitars, electric and acoustic, a bass guitar, a bass amp, a Marshall stack and head amplifiers, a set of Tama Drums and Zildjian Symbols, a PA system for shows, effects pedals up the wazoo, stacks of guitar tablature books (Every Metallica and Led Zeppelin song book they had).  My upstairs looked like a fucking rock show stage.

My gambling habit was really blossoming in 2003/2004.  I’d pissed through the inheritance I got from my dad and was working at my mom’s card room, actually making really good money.  But whatever I made went right into my TVG account or down to Emerald Downs and was gone before bills were paid or food was purchased.  Then one day, wanting to go betting and having nothing to bet, I looked at my drum set.  I studied them and thought “well I don’t play them very often anymore, and I never was a drummer.”  I loaded up the entire kit, all the symbols and took them to guitar center (this was before I knew you could sell crap on Craigslist) and sold the entire set, probably $1200 worth of stuff for $280 bucks.  That money was gone by the time the late double at Emerald started the next night.

Over the next couple years I eventually sold off most of that musical equipment.  A couple of guitars got stolen after a concert (my Les Paul and ESP) so I never got a chance to pawn those off.  I sold the amp stack to Tommy C. for a couple hundred, the bass amp broke, but most of the stuff I sold and gambled the money away.  After a couple more years all I had left was my Martin Acoustic guitar.  That was one of those line crossers, something i’d never sell.  I had to keep some kind of music in my life.  I sold it for 400 bucks.

I didn’t have a musical instrument in my life for about a year.  When I finally got rid of the gambling for good, and had saved some money up (it’s amazing how fast you can save up money when you aren’t pissing it away) I went to the store and bought a reasonably priced acoustic guitar.  I don’t play it all that much, but I love that it’s there when I need it.  It’s also a reminder of never going back to not having music.

But when the urge hit me to go to Guitar Center, I was very excited.  Until I walked in.  It was like a kick in the stomach.  I think part of that was realizing I already had all this stuff.  It’s like buying dinner again cause you dropped the first cheeseburger on the ground.  The funny part is, I couldn’t pull the trigger and buy one.  I have the money to buy dozens of guitars if I wanted to, but I just couldn’t do it.  Not quite yet.  I guess years into recovery, some things are still triggering in some ways.  But I’m happy I’m not reacting on impulses either.  That got me into some trouble.  As you read above 🙂