Hunter is missed more during football season than other time of the year, at least by my brother Drew and I, if not by scores of others who were lucky enough to watch and bet on the games in the kitchen of Owl Farm over the years. When I released the first of my four films about Hunter – Breakfast with Hunter – an interviewer asked me “What did you learn from all that time you spent with Dr. Thompson.”
“He taught me how to gamble,” I replied, without even thinking about it.
Those were expensive lessons in the beginning. One Sunday, Hunter got me going worse than Harvey Keitel in The Bad Lieutenant who cineastes will remember kept doubling down on successive games in the World Series on his way to death. For me, a mild losing streak on the early games that Sunday, turned into a total disaster as I kept doubling down and losing every bet. By the end of the evening game my debt to Hunter was $800. It never occurred to me that I would not pay. I just didn’t have the money. Fortunately, my brother bailed me out.
Hunter had closely studied the habits of amateur gamblers, as he wrote in his “Hey Rube” column for ESPN.com in December, 2001 called “Skunks Like Me.”
The Holiday season is always a bad time of year for amateur gambling addicts. They are weak people, as a rule, and they are not built for grueling long-distance work….Gambling losses that seemed harmless in October have swollen out of control when Christmas rolls around. The math is working against you and Doom and Disaster have taken on a personal meaning….I know these things from many years of close personal association, to put it gently, with the Debt Collection business.
Hunter told me that one football season, when he had little money, he got so deeply in debt to a Bookie that he saw no way out.
The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of brutal things; of broken legs and shattered dreams, of bleeding eyes and whores…. Read the rest of this entry »