I’m a person who is always willing to impart any special knowledge I might possess to anyone who is ready to listen. So, when my young neighbor Tom came up to me and asked if I knew any way for him to make a little extra money, I said sure. I immediately took him to the horse races.

The races in this case consisted of an OTB (Off Track Betting) facility. No live racing unfortunately, but still these places have most of the tracks live from around the country showing races on numerous monitors and the action is fast and furious. This particular OTB is a nice enough place, where you can feel comfortable wearing clothing styles dating as far back as at least 45 years ago. We are talking about an older crowd, including guys who at some point in their betting careers, bet on a Trifecta involving Charlton Heston in the movie Ben Hur.

I enjoy the racetrack crowd. It’s a more sociable group than you would think. I’m generally a shy person, but when I go to the races, I often find myself having conversations with total strangers. I’ll be standing quietly by a bank of monitors showing horses racing – possibly at some track in Florida; possibly at some track in California; possibly in races that took place in 1965 – and a man standing next to me, that looked like a finalist in a George Burns look-a-like contest, will suddenly yank the cigar out of his mouth, turn to me, and say: “Can you believe THAT?” “No!” I’ll say. “What the (bad word) is he DOING?” the man will say. “He’s (bad word) CRAZY!!” “I’ll say!” I’ll say, wondering whom we’re talking about. A horse? A jockey? Rush Limbaugh? “Your (bad word) RIGHT he’s crazy!” the man will say, glad to have found somebody else who knows what’s going on. Then he’ll walk away, still talking, leaving behind no clues except a puff of smoke and a small puddle of cigar drool.

I began the process of educating Tom, by showing him how to pick a horse to bet on. The key is to have a system. I use what is known as a “two step” system, as follows (you might want to write this down): 1) I look at a list of horses. 2) I pick one. Using this system, I selected a horse named “Goober,” which seemed appropriate because it’s something that my city dwelling brothers have called me for years. After I placed the bet, we found the monitor for Gulf Stream Park in Florida where the race was taking place.

When they crossed the finish line and although I specifically yelled at Goober to win, he (or possibly she) did not. What’s worse he (or possibly she) did not look the least bit upset about losing. In fact, none of the horses seemed to take the race seriously. Laughing and pooping, they trotted gaily off the track and headed for the horse locker room to check out the Stock Market. They’re all into conservative mutual funds.

Next, I had Tom watch the horses during the Post Parade. “What are we looking for?” asked Tom. “Humps,” I said. A hump indicates to the shrewd bettor that the horse is actually part camel, which means it will run slower than a thoroughbred. Or possibly faster I can’t remember which. Tom at this point decided – and this is the problem with young people these days; they don’t want to learn anything – that he was going to ignore my system and pick his own horses by (Get this!) studying the racing form.

While Tom was frittering away his time trying to decipher the gibberish in the form, I implemented another one of my systems I have perfected over the years that I won’t go into. I will be completely honest. When the day was over, I had picked no winning horses, no horses that placed, and no horses that showed. Tom had picked three winners and ended up making money. I just hope that if he becomes rich from gambling on the horses, he remembers who showed him the ropes.