The Taste of Joy and the Sound of Winning

The Taste of Joy

The taste of joy depends on where you were and if you were alone or with someone else.

This didn’t happen to me, but if you were a teenager at the beach with your first love interest as the sun was setting and you kissed her for the first time on the neck right below her sexy little ears that would likely be the taste you’d remember, the mixed taste of her warm skin mingled with the sweet smell of the sunscreen she was using that day and the lingering scent of the shampoo she used the last time she washed her hair.

For the rest of your life, every time you smelled a similar scent or visited that beach, you’d remember and feel the joy again but probably not as intense as the first time.

The Sound of Winning

I was seven years old the first time I heard the sound of winning. It happened at Santa Anita Race Track when my dad took me with him for the first time. Dad went to Santa Anita almost every day when the horses were running.

That was the first time I bet on a horse and won.  The sound at the end of each race was the roar of the winners. The winning roar from thousands of voices is a powerful force.

On the next race at Santa Anita that day, I bet all my winnings thinking I was going to win again, and again, and again and become rich, really rich. What I was feeling is called greed. I lost all that money and more on the second race.

I never made a bet on a horse race again.

And when the horse races were too far away to go, dad placed his bets through illegal bookies. Mom hated dad’s gambling but it was hard for her to complain because he always won more than he lost. When he died at 79, she lived off his accumulated winnings for a year, but bookie bets don’t come with the pulse pounding roar of a crowd.

I did bet again decades later but only at cards, not horses, after I taught myself to become a card counter and was winning repeatedly at the 21 tables in Las Vegas, and the only sound I remember was the sound of the hundreds of noisy casino slot machines for suckers.

Slot machines were good for killing time but not for winning so I don’t think of that as a winning sound.

I wonder what losing sounds like — curses, sobs, maybe?


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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7 responses to “The Taste of Joy and the Sound of Winning”

  1. Mary Ann Stiegel Avatar
    Mary Ann Stiegel

    As always. you’re perpetually (I like that Catholic term) thinking! It’s very interesting to me how well “yourself” comes out in your writing (and I only know you through your writing).
    You consistently seek learning. You know where to look for it for you. This particular writing group you’re involved in is an especially good choice. I can see how it would stimulate your strong desire to learn. A True Teacher, you are.
    What I’m seeing in this assignment is the need for you to differentiate in your own mind the meanings of the words: JOY and WINNING.
    I think that’s the crux.
    You might have another book in you with what you might learn.

    1. It would be nice if I had time for “another book”. But right now, I’m up to my ears and years in revisions for my next book and it is proving to be a demanding challenge with a complicated plot and two main characters. I’m starting into the 4th major revision of the already finished first manuscript in a multi-novel series. This is a story I’ve wanted to write about for decades.

  2. Where did this come from? You begin, then say this wasn’t you, then go to age 7 with your dad and the horses, then you learned a lesson and didn’t bet on horses but counted cards in Vegas…
    Why did you post this? Did you learn another lesson? About maybe betting on things that used to work out?
    The sound of winning is cheering.
    The sound of losing is silence. It’s “disturbing”.

    1. It came from a prompt from my VA writing group — all combat vets in this group. We were given two choices and I decided to write to both of them.

      1. What was the prompt, and what where the 2 choices?

      2. The two prompts were for this one writing exercise was:

        1. The taste of Joy
        2. The sound of winning

        I’m in two combat support groups each in a different location that is part of the VA — that focus on writing as a form of therapy for PTSD. I can’t share what the others are writing but some of it is an eye-opening discovery into our minds. There’s no telling if we are going to write about something that happened to us in combat or something entirely different. We don’t have to write about what happened to us.

        I decided to post some of the ones I write. Some will be here on this blog and some will be on my Soulful Veteran blog when they are somehow linked to the military and combat in some way.

    2. I’m thinking about when I’ve had joy in my life and the results of that thinking, I think, explains why I couldn’t come up with anything from my life experience to share when it comes to joy. I’m sure that there have been moments in my life where I felt momentary joy but nothing seems to have stuck in my memory as a feeling of joy I wanted to remember. I’m drawing a blank.

      With winning it was different. That was real and I still remember it. Maybe because it was one of the few times in my youth that my dad took me with him and we did something together.

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