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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