Thursday, July 31, 2008

You Win, Pal

Yesterday was the second time in less than a week that Joe called me with the news that one of his horses had finished second in a race at Philadelphia Park. I was genuinely glad for him and said my congratulations.

There was unmistakable glee in his voice when he said to me, “Hey, you’re sitting all day staring at your computer in an office while I’m having thrills at the racecourse. So who’s smarter?”

Damn, the brute couldn’t resist rubbing my nose in it. We went back a long way, and he’d always had a healthy respect for whatever existed inside my skull. For my part, more than once I had turned up my nose at his predilection for gaudy clothes and Johnny Cash music, so maybe he’d been carrying a little grudge against me, and now was his chance to get even.

My first reaction was to retort with something like, “You wouldn’t happen to know the phone number of the owner of whatever horse that finished first, would you? I really want to congratulate him.” But I remembered in time that he was a sensitive guy in spite of his tough looks, so I just kept my mouth shut. Besides, he might be right. He might not be the brainy type, but he was his own man, and while I was scratching my head trying to be productive enough to satisfy my employer, he was having fun at the racetrack, huddling with jockeys and trainers, probably telling them his horrible jokes and roaring with laughter.

So I answered, “You are, Joe. You win.” I heard a loud whoopee at the other end of the phone line and could not help smiling.

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