Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And Racing

Henry Hill: Now the guy's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy's gotta come up with Paulie's money every week no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? Fuck you, pay me."

Some time ago I shared my favourite gambling story, about a "Mystery Trifecta" that I had come in for a $900+ pay day. I love those kind of gambling stories, be they about poker, horses or any other kind of gambling – prop bets especially. But here is another gambling related story about the bet I didn't win, in fact, I didn't even place it.

But first some history. Before we start, I know this next bit sounds pretty ridiculous, but everything here is a true and accurate account as best as my memory serves me.

You know when you get that feeling of déjà vu, and then you think you saw it in a dream or something like that? I seem to get that feeling a lot. I have always had a real fascination for those little movies that play in our head when we are asleep.

When I was young, say before I turned 10 years old, I had these recurring nightmares. There was three or four of them, and very short in length but the gist of all of them was that I was being led somewhere by someone and I would meet my doom there – by falling off a cliff, being captured by hostiles or just being shot by some futuristic lasers. It all seems very silly to me know, but at the time there were dead scary dreams. And they even had closing theme music that was common amongst them all, and that theme music used to send shivers down my spine. It is hard to describe, but it was probable the same tone/notes as the Jaws theme played at the tempo of the Psycho theme. Which was a weird combination, since at that age I had seen neither of those two movies.

Anyway, the point of it all was that there were four dreams, and they always ended the same way. Getting led away, facing imminent death, theme music and then I wake up really scared. They seemed to run in rotation of some sort but not on the same night. Who ever was doing the programming for my nightmares sure knew what they were doing to keep me interested.

Then once, I was having one of the dreams, and I tried to fight back in it. I tried to use one of the futuristic lasers to fire at the door where I knew the enemies would be streaming through. It didn't work, and I awaited for my death anyways as the music men got their cue and I awoke once more. The next time I had one of these dreams, something similar happened. In this particular dream, as I was being led away to the edge of the cliff, I tried to hang on and not fall down, but eventually I lost the grip and tumbled as I always had – cue the music, wake up.

During the next rotation of these dreams though, my retaliations were not so fruitless. Eventually, I no longer died at the end of the dream. Instead, I turned the tables on my would-be attackers. Instead of the man leading me to the cliff and pushing me over, I pushed him over. The lasers finally worked and I took out all the turrets set up in the room and then fled. I had concurred the situations in my dreams one by one.

And then? They stopped. I never had the nightmares again. After I had beaten each one, they ceased and have never returned. I have never actually heard that music since, and I sometimes wish I had some musical ability so I could recreate it to see if it still scares me some 18 years later.

Since then, I have always had a bit of a fascination with my dreams. Not really as a fortune telling thing, I never really bought into that, but some of my dreams have the weirdest shit going on – as I am sure we all experience. I once had a dream that was so vivid and realistic that it left me speechless for 2 days when I was 17. Maybe I will share that story some other time.

But alas, the relevance of this little bit of history occurred some years later, in 1996. And this is quiet timely as the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup day, the biggest horse race in Australia – as well as just one of the biggest national celebrations in Australia. If you are in Melbourne, they have a public holiday for it. They call it the race that stops the nation. I'm really proud to be in a country that stops because they have a bet on.

My maternal grandfather loves his horse racing, and because of this I have had a bet on the Melbourne Cup every year of my life, wether I was old enough to know what I was doing or not. Pop did this for all his grandchildren, which number 13 now but was probably 11 back then. Anyway I picked my horse, can't remember what now or why, and on we go.

Tuesday, and we are watching the race at school and everyone is talking about who they think will win and why. I'm not overly concerned, but I do have Pop's bet for me on some donkey so maybe I can pick up an easy $20 for it.

The horses are in the mounting yard, and are having their details come up on the screen one by one as the commentators go through their vital details and everything else they do before a race. All of a sudden, I turn to one of my friends and say "Damn – I already know who wins." I said it as if the race on TV was a repeat, not a live event as it is every year. How could I have been so certain?

2 nights earlier, I had another dream that was quite clear in picture, if not stupid in premise. It was of a horse, and I envisioned an entire AFL football team as the jockey. The team was The St Kilda Saints, and I could see quite clearly one of their best players, Stewart Lowe amongst the blur of other players riding the horse to win this race in my dream. Even though I could see no other horses or signs to indicate it, I knew the horse had just won the Melbourne Cup with the St. Kilda footy team.

When I woke up, I didn't think any more about the dream other than questioning myself how an entire team could be the jockey, and then why could I see only one of their faces? It seemed stupid, and warranted no more thought.

Until two days later when I was watching the Melbourne Cup horses parade across the screen, the dream flew back into my consciousness. The Saint Kilda Saints had won the Melbourne Cup in my dreams, and now being shown right in the middle of the TV screen was a horse named…Saintly.

As soon as I saw the horse, I knew what the dream meant. I knew the horse was in the race, even considered it at some stage, but the relevance of the dream never came to me until about 2 minutes before the race started. This was long before the days when I could have nicked online and made a bet, but right then and there I would have put anything on this horse winning.

And sure enough, this Saintly went marching in. Those that had winners cheered, those that didn't made up excuses, and I just sat there stunned. Never before had I ever had such a premonition, and I don't think I ever have since.

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