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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Horse racing, golf and my mothers day memories.

"All I need are some tasty waves, cool buds and I'm fine."
--Jeff Spicoli

Fast Times at Ridgemount High came out in 1982. I was 17 that year. I wasn't a stoner or floater like Spicoli in high school. A teacher wouldn't have been able to pick me out from the pack as one to make an example of like Mr. Hand did, but I had the Spicoli attitude. I came and went as I pleased, and I did pretty much what I wanted when I wanted to.
Two things I wanted to do was play golf and go to the horse races. I wasn't above skipping a few classes to do that. Okay, maybe more than a few classes would be accurate.
Somehow, my brain was able to carry me enough to get my high school diploma so I wasn't in deep hot water that year with my parents. It did require a summer school class for a  Calculus class I failed, but I was okay with that because "Heidi with the 10 body" who wanted me to touch her all over was also taking that class and it was only 1 hour a day for a month. But otherwise, I could not really be bothered with school or homework. My homework was reading the racing program and practicing my golf swing.
When I was around 18 or 19, I decided I didn't want to go to University, even though I had been accepted. I just was sick of school. I ended up going after taking 1 year off, and I suppose I knew I would do that eventually, but it easily might not have played out that way. More about that later in the blog.
At that point, I had decided I was going to play golf during the day, go to the races at night or in the afternoon (or both), and handicap all night while I watched reruns of Lassie and Vegas or Matt Houston. Or any other show in reruns at 3am that I hadn't seen in first run. Simon and Simon turned out to be one of those that fell into my lap that year in the wee hours. I always loved the Simon and Simon theme song. No You Tube in those days, so it made me stay up to watch for it even on the odd night when I didn't want to stay up all night. 

I had the money to do that. I worked every summer up to that point and saved all my money, and I also inherited 8k when my Aunt Eta passed away. I lived at home for free, but paid for my own groceries and never asked for a dime from my parents. My father didn't like it, but he kept quiet. I guess he assumed I was smart enough to figure it out on my own at some point. I decided if I was going to come and go as I pleased, I didn't want to do it in my fathers Cadillac, as comfy as that was.
At that time, my father had 5 brand New Cadillac's, of which 4 were always parked on the street or in the driveway. 5 Cadillac's? Yes, that is what I wrote. There was my sister, my mother, myself and my father. My mother and sister would never drive big cars like that, so, there was no need for even 2. But, that was my father.  So, I had my pick of using one whenever I wanted to. The keys were lined up on the wall like a rent-a-car center. Pick whatever color you wanted to drive that day. I used to drive one to school every now and then. One day the principal thought I had stolen it and called me into the office to explain how a kid without blue-blood parents could drive a different brand new Cadillac to school once a week.
My dad liked to have things, and lots of them. One Cadillac wasn't enough, he had to have as many as he could get his hands on. When his shell game that he used to get those came crashing down one night, some people came and just took them all away and they were gone when we woke up. I wanted to have my own car, even if it was not much of a flashy car like a Cadillac. I wanted it to be there any day I felt like golfing or going to the races, or anywhere else for that matter. I had my aunts inheritance in the bank and I intended on using a part of that to get something that would suit my needs.
My mother was against it. She thought I would buy something that would end up being a lemon, or had a lien on it, or some other problem she figured I would get myself into.
My mother has departed this earth, about 6 years ago. I don't think of her often. I am not the type to dwell much. But, I do remember her of course, and as today is Mother's day, and my friend Dave Schwartz posted a podcast about horse racing, golf and mothers, a story came to my head.
I remember the day I went to by my first car, a Pontiac Acadian. I can remember that because I was also going to go to the track after, and a bearcat of a 3yo mare named Omaha Girl was racing at Greenwood that night. It turned out to be a very rainy and ugly night, so, I test drove the car and skipped the races. But, seeing as I had the program, and I keep them all, I could look up the date.
That car, horse racing, and how my mother reacted to me getting that car, my liking of horse racing and the "incident" that happened the next summer is the story of this blog.
Despite her protests, about that car, and how much time I spent (wasted) on horse racing (that bad gambling thing I did), I bought the car, and I continued to go to the races. It turns out there were no liens on the car, it ran perfectly for years, and it got me around to all sorts of places. Like, the golf course. I played at least 4 times a week. Some weeks, 27 holes in a row, then to the races, and even 5 or 6 times a week and doubleheader Sundays for the racing with Orangeville in the afternoon and Greenwood at night. It was a great life. A Spicoli type of life.
I got better and better at the golf thing, and even had aspirations of playing in tournaments and trying to test my skill against the best. I never did. I practiced so much plus the playing that I developed a bad back within a year. While I was doing well, I could easily drive the ball 300 yards consistently, which for my size and shape amazed anybody I played with, and I became an excellent putter and chipper. Life was good.
As for the races, I thought I was really good at that as well, and only time has made me realize I was really bad at it at that point. Nevertheless, on a trip to Florida in the spring of my "taking the year off" year, we went to Jai Alai, the Greyhound races and even to Gulfstream. I won at all of those and figured I could pack up all my crap in the car and just drive down to Florida, play golf all day, the dogs, Jai Alai and any horse races I could find, make money doing that and live the good life. As Cat Stevens would say, "Oh Very Young".

I told my mother that was what I was going to do about a week before I was to go and do it. I guess she thought I was just talking, and although she was not pleased and protested, she just let it lie.
Then came the day I started to pack the things into my new (used) car. I had most of it in there, and I was about ready to go. My mother was panicky, and she kept pleading with me not to do it. I was almost out the door, but somehow, she got me back in and got me to stay.
Luckily for me, because if I had gone, I would have lost all my money, as I was lousy at playing horses as I said. I applied back for University, got in, and left the Spicoli lifestyle behind me.
I still golfed, I still went to the races, but I grew up. Thanks to my mother.
When you are young, maybe you only need some tasty waves and cool buds. But hopefully you grow out of that. Or you listen to your mother when she tells you to grow out of it and grow up.
On this day, word to your mother. 

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