Sunday, May 08, 2005


It’s not a surprise that Art didn’t have the Derby winner yesterday. I don’t think he’s had the winner since the early 70’s…and people always think that he must get great “inside” info….HA! Unfortunately for me, I was SURE that yesterday of all days he really would have the winner.

With a twenty horse field, it was definitely anyone’s race. The favorite never wins…something I was counting on, since the favorite was owned by George Steinbrenner, a bully and an asshole. Other than that, I knew next to nothing about any of the horses….and then I saw one named Giacomo.

As my sister and I sat watching the horses being led into the starting gate, I commented that I hoped Art had put $20 to win on Giacomo…..not only was the name Italian, but it’s also the name of our new friend…the one who wants us to work for him….the one who has said he’ll help us make money…the one who said 2005 was going to be a good year for us.

It seemed like such a logical, obvious choice; at least as far as illogical choices go. If you’re going to pick a horse based on your favorite colors, or your birthday numbers, or some other unscientific method, basing your choice on the ITALIAN name of a FRIEND who has promised to help you MAKE MONEY seemed like as reliable a method as any.

Anyway, I said to my sister that I just KNEW that Art would come home with a story about how he SHOULD have bet on Giacomo, MEANT to bet on Giacomo, THOUGHT he bet on Giacomo….but ultimately did NOT bet on Giacomo. My sister….the optimist of the family…assured me that of COURSE Art had bet on this horse, because it had the Italian name of our friend. I wasn’t quite so sure.

Watching the race was exciting, and watching it replayed was even better. When you know WHEN and WHERE to watch for different horses to make their moves, it’s amazing. We watched this HERD of horses thunder out of the gate at a fast pace. With this many horses I would have expected them to be more spread out as they hit the backstretch, but there were still quite a few horses in the pack. And then we watched Giacomo weave through the pack and make his move. And he just kept coming…and coming….and coming…..and he WON!!!!! The horse with the Italian name had won the Derby!

Even more amazing was the payoff….the odds were 50-1, meaning that a $2 bet turned into $102 when you cashed the ticket! This was the second highest paying horse in Derby history….and the only other horse paying better had won in 1913! Wow! If Art had bet $20 to win, that was $1000! The digital camera we had been looking at was $999….If Art had won, we could buy the camera without me feeling guilty!

I knew that it would be a very long day for Art, and that because we have a “pay-as-you-go” cell phone, he probably wouldn’t call me until he was leaving the track. Sure enough, around 8:15 I got the call….he and his friends were just leaving the track, and guessed it would be at least 45 minutes before they arrived at our arranged pick-up point.

The forty five minutes turned into over an hour, but eventually Art got into the car, exhausted. I waited….would he casually hand me a huge wad of bills as if nothing had happened? Would he launch into a long and suspenseful story about how he had chosen his Derby horse? Or would he sit down and bang his head against the dashboard in frustration? I was so excited I could barely contain myself!

You have to understand a little bit about our very different attitudes towards money. Art believes that money is meant to be spent and enjoyed. He believes that everything will work out for the best, so if he doesn’t have money at a given time, that’s really no reason not to spend it….eventually things will get better….in the meantime, why suffer?

For me, money is a precious commodity…something to be carefully guarded. It’s not that I’m a tightwad, but I just don’t believe in spending money I don’t have. I don’t see this as deprivation, just reality. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it, and if you do have it, spend it wisely…or maybe even save some for a rainy day. For me gambling is just about the stupidest thing in the world. Why would you want to take such a chance with your hard-earned money? I’d rather splurge on something extravagant that I can at least hold in my hand that to take a risk, any risk. A 2-1 favorite is no more guaranteed to win that a long shot.

Obviously our differing attitudes can create some problems. Art says that since I’ve met him, he’s forced me to have so many wonderful trips and adventures, and here we are, sixteen years later, and guess what? They’re all paid for! What was I worrying/complaining about? Yes he’s right….everything worked out okay. We’ve never carried credit card balances, we’ve been able to retire early, and we’ve had many wonderful adventures together. But still….

While I will admit that Art has corrupted me to a large degree, old habits die hard, and I’m still a saver not a spender….. and I’m certainly not a gambler. One of my biggest conflicts is when he comes home from the track and hands me a huge wad of cash. If I accept the money and act happy, isn’t that the same as saying that I approve of his gambling?

Now it’s not like this happens on a regular basis. If Art got inside tips and had the knowledge to pick the big winners on a regular basis we’d probably have retired long before we did. The amazing thing about the times that Art wins big is that it always seems to happen at a time when we REALLY, REALLY, need the money…which makes it all the more difficult for me to complain! What a dilemma!

Okay, so back to the story. I’m waiting for Art to tell me about his big win…or about his incredibly stupid oversight! And unfortunately he hung his head and said no, he hadn’t bet on Giacomo! He was absolutely incredulous….and devastated. He said that at 50-1 he never even considered betting on Giacomo. Apparently all the “signs” that I saw just never hit him in the same way.

Fortunately for both of us, we could laugh about it….and laugh we did! We shook our heads and laughed about the irony of the situation the whole way home….yeah, who in their right mind would take the Italian name of a friend who promised to help us make money as an omen?

We were both certain that God must be shaking His head at our obvious stupidity….He had done everything but make an announcement over the loudspeaker saying “Art Skinner, be sure to bet on Giacomo!” Thank God we weren’t counting on a big Derby win to get us out of a jam! And thank goodness I hadn’t rushed out to but that new camera….I guess we’ll just have to wait a little longer………maybe until the Preakness?


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