The Bet

By 1976 I was back in Detroit having left for L.A. in 1974 and had given up on doing magic, but made a good living doing odd jobs. I rented a house in Warren Michigan, it was just natural because until that point, my van had been the official hang out spot to meet and I was the oldest of us all. It was a nice three-bedroom house and my friends and family helped me furnished every room of it with stuff they didn’t need. I invested in a very high-end stereo system for it’s day and I had rescued Peanuts, a cute little white shaggy dog from the local pound.  As I later learned, Peanuts’ owner had taken him to the pound when the dog pooped on the rug, after being locked up in a house on his own for a week without food or water, all the time his owner was enjoying a great vacation!   The dog was in the pound for two days and got so sick he almost died, and I spent hundreds of dollars in vet bills and medicine to get him well, it was touch and go there for a while, but once he got better Peanuts wound not leave my side, and was my companion on trip to California and he lived with me in  my van at a campsite in Malibu California that winter .

I’ve never been much of a drinker, but a buddy got a deal on cheap 12 packs of beer and I bought 100 packs of them but for only $2.00 each.  I didn’t think ahead about where I would store all that beer, so I stacked three walls of the dining room walls from floor to ceiling with 12 packs of beer.  I wasn’t into beer, but my friends were and I knew they would make short work of the wall o beer!

The late 70’s was a great time for music.  I had never been into rock music much growing up, but by the time got back home from L.A. my taste in music had turned to rock and roll. I approached rock music like I do most things in my life with a hunger for more – I had the time and cash to get caught up fast.  Artists like Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Paul McCarthy and others would come to town and I would go to see their shows, sometimes two nights in a row. I would buy six tickets a night and would scalp four of them to make my money back. So when Queen came to town I was only able to get four tickets a night and all of my buddies wanted to see them.

Artie ask me if I would sell him a ticket and lend him the money, I had to do it for Artie. He was the guy who turned me onto Bruce Springsteen and even paid for my first (of many) concert tickets. But I couldn’t just sell him the ticket that was no fun!  I was in my kitchen feeding my cat Pudge, and I told Artie if he ate a can of Pudge’s cat food he could have a ticket…. but he had to keep it down for a full fifteen minutes.  Artie asked if he could make it into a sandwich, and that request seemed fair, so I agreed. It took a lot of water but he did eat the whole can and kept it down.

So now Tom (aka Dick boy) wants my last ticket, and is willing to eat cat food for one, but I’m out of cat food and have to think fast of my feet. I open the cupboard and saw a big green bottle of dishwashing soap. I poured a cup full of dish soap into the paper Dixie cup and handed it to Tom. He bitched at first, but when I started to pour the soap down the sink, he changed his mind – the lure of the concert too great to be ignored.   I reminded him that he has to keep it down for fifteen minutes to get his ticket and he agreed.

Tom took the cup and downed it in one big swig but there is a little bit left at the bottom of the paper cup, so I made him take a second swig and he did. Three minutes go by and Tom is asked me when will he get his ticket and I reminded him he has to keep it down for fifteen minutes and it’s only been four.  I’m thinking to my self: dam he’s going to do it and I’ll be out a ticket. So I looked at Tom and in a straight face I said: You know why people drink soap right?  “No” Tom said.  I answered: to make themselves throw-up!

Tom’s face turned a lovely shade of white as he ran into the kitchen and just made it to the sink then we heard this terrible wrenching sound coming from the kitchen and we see Tom bent over the kitchen sink, with the water going, puking and trying to rinse out his mouth at the same time. But by now the sink is filling up with bubbles and they are coming out of his nose as he heaves into the sink. We are laughing so hard we can’t stop and poor Tom is almost in tears trying to get every bit of the taste of the soap out of his mouth. Sadly he only kept it down for five minutes…. so he didn’t get a ticket.


© 2015 Excerpt from the upcoming book: Stories For Lambykins by James Szeles



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