Hats & Eyeglasses: A Memoir I grew up in a warm and loving family of die-hard gamblers, where my father’s poker games and my mother’s mah jongg blended with big pots of delicious food and endless gossip.
As kids we bet on everything–from who could hold their breath longest underwater or eat the most matzo to which of our Weight Watching mothers would lose the most each week. I went with my father and uncles to the track most Tuesdays, carrying the Daily Racing Form in my book-bag, and when I was twelve and predicted the outcome of a big race, they anointed me “The Grecian,” in honor of oddsmaker Jimmy the Greek.
But by the time I turned eighteen, I convinced myself that the gambling gene had passed me by. I went off to college, looking for a life that didn’t include perusing the sports section and making bets on anything that caught my fancy.
For many years I didn’t gamble at all. And then I learned poker as research for a screenplay I wanted to write. Turns out I was good at poker– very, very good. I began playing all the time, and this story might have had a different ending if I hadn’t found online poker. Turns out I was bad at internet poker– very, very bad.
My uncles used to say that being on a losing streak was like being on a sinking ship, and all you could see were other people’s hats and eyeglasses as the water rose around them. I learned first hand what that meant.
My aunt Tillie always told me that our family was more interesting than the people I interviewed. I used to roll my eyes at her, but, damn, it turns out aunt Tillie was right.