manny the gambler

his name was manny, he was mexican american. lives in mexico, works in altadena where he wipes an old mans ass.

a caregiver i picked up at LAX where it was dead all over LA so when the $41 ping came in asking if i wanted to haul him across town with an ETA of an hour i said hell yes.

not sure how he was an american citizen but he said he was one, not a super thick accent but it was there. fucked up teeth. laid back style. happy. comfortable. we immediately got to talking.

manny was making way more money than me. the old man paid him $300 a day to live in the house with him and his wife in a big house north of pasadena. no days off during the week, but every three months he was allowed to fly back down to mexico to see his wife and son, freddy.

freddy had just turned two.

after little bonuses, manny was paid $100k a year to do the things this man needed which was mostly to lift him out of bed, clean him, help him poop, feed him, and do some light housework for the old lady. the boss was an executive back in the day. plenty of money but got parkinsons in his late 50s and was quickly falling apart.

i hate to say it but it sounds like a boring job, manny.

it is. and its led me to gambling because i sit next to him as he mumbles and i study the horses.

oh at santa anita? (which is nearby)

everywhere. los alamitos, belmont park, i even bet on races in Japan.

what’s your system? i used to read a lot of Charles Bukowski who would drive from San Pedro to Santa Anita and he’d study the racing forms in the passenger seat as his wife drove.

i dont have a system, he said, i lose a lot. but i try to stick to betting on hot jockeys and trainers.

he then admitted he has a bit of a gambling problem where he’s lose $300-$500 a day on bad days, break even on good days and win on very good days.

it’s the app, he said, it lets me play all day, all night. i have to cut down in 2024.

when things turn sad only halfway through a trip, i try to redirect it to happier paths.

what was the best day of gambling you had in 2023?

manny perked up. i won $5,000 on a daily double. i put down $100 on a long shot and a favorite and it paid off.

what did you do with the money?

well im saving for a bar i want to build in mexico in my hometown. so i put $1,000 into that account and i bought some clothes and went to the strip club and fucked the hottest girl there.

wait what.

her name was selena.

was this in mexico or here?

in East LA amigo.

wait wait you can fuck the strippers here?

many laughed so hard he started hiccuping. yes amigo!

how much do you have to pay?

$500, $600. she takes you to a little room. theres no bed, no couch. its just a little platform with some cushions. but its enough privacy and safety that you can do what you want to do. and i did everything.


everything, ass, mouth, i ate her out. it was exelente.

i paused and said, manny, am i a germaphobe? am i a prude? i dont think id go down on a stripper. ive kissed a stripper once in vegas because she had this tongue piercing and i kept staring at it and she said buy me a glass of champagne and you can kiss it. so i did.

same thing, my friend. these girls are no dirtier than the ones you’re already kissing. i ate her out good and id do it again.

so what kind of bar are you saving up for?

a strip club.

are there no strip clubs in your hometown in mexico?

yes, but they’re all crowded. we could use another one.

and your wife would be ok with this dream of yours?

she knows who i am. just last night i was fucking her and my son was on one side of her and i was behind her but i didnt care. she knows im wild. i am wild. but she likes the money i make here and she likes the house i built for her from money from that old man. and she knows this bar will be what gets us a bigger house.

but you just built one!

si, but to be honest tony we learned a lot building that house and i will never start from scratch again. the next one will be a house thats already built and i will just add little things to it and rent out the house my wife and son are in now.

we were going to the mall next to the race track. manny was hungry.

where do you want me to drop you off?

the cheesecake factory.

but of course.

my new famila

I’m someone who doesn’t remember names. I couldn’t be a politician. They say a great politician can remember everyone’s name.

Because I broke out of my game plan and foolishly took a 23 year old Hawaiian babe dating a 40 year old to Agoura, I was in Calabasas at 1:30am when I got a ping that basically said, if you can make it to Ventura by 2:30 we’ll give you $70 to take them to LAX.

Got there at 2:20. Whole family is outside. Very loving very funny. 4 people 2 suitcases 3 back packs. The 18 year old is pregnant. The 17 year old wants to go to Holland for her gap year. I keep telling mom I’d like to be husband #3 bc everyone is so adorable.

And I will probably never forget their names because we spent an hour in the middle of the night talking about Tex Mex, what Kobe and Brenda are going to name the baby, and how idiotic men are.

Did you or your husband name your firstborn Kobe?


Which was your favorite era Kobe, as far as hotness? Young Kobe? Clean Shaven Kobe? Bearded Kobe?

Every Kobe was fine, she said.

Darkly, right as we were passing where his helicopter crashed.

But I didn’t say shit.

trust me i have not stopped thinking about her

her name was Bella. she tried to kiss me last night from my back seat not long before the ball dropped.

i picked her up around 11pm in toluca lake in front of a crowded bar. her former boss, a woman, was drunk and needed a ride home to pasadena and Bella was being so sweet.

the whole way to Pass the drunk ex boss was all, “Bella i feel so guilty, you’re so young, you should be out there, im so embarrassed you are coming with me.”

and Bella was all, “Martha, you hired me. you promoted me. you were alway the best boss to me. it’s ok. Tony here will take me to your house and take me back. It’s my pleasure to do this. You would do it for me too.”

which is all true and this is just another reason women are so lovely.

dudes would draw a dick on their friends face with marker and call him a pussy and toss him into the uber and give the wrong address. but there they were: two slurring women hugging each other as we sped east down the 134 through Glendale.

dropped Martha off and Bella started confiding in me saying she was sad because “the boy ive been talking with said he couldnt make it to the bar tonight, and i’m sad. i really like him. he’s the hottest guy at [big company].”

i was talking to her while peeking at the rear view mirror to try to judge how hot she was, but I intentionally try not to look at my female passengers at night because I have enough problems as a Libra falling in love with people instantly.

let me ask some questions Bella, if you don’t mind.

yes please, Tony, she said. By the way she called me Tony at the end of every sentence. a tad annoying but whatever. it was 20 minutes there, 20 minutes back, and i was making $46 because of all the nights a year you make reasonable money, new years eve is one of the top three.

have you been on a date with him before?

define date tony.

you arrange to do something, he picks you up, you do the thing, theres some sexual tension when he drops you off at home, if you’re lucky theres a smooch and then you tell all your bffs immediately what you want to name his babies.

we did have 1 date, at a brewery, and there was a kiss, tony.

when was that?

two months ago.

i hate to tell you this Bella, but handsome boy has too many options. thats why there hasnt been a second date and why he didnt wanna go to toluca lake for nye.

and she started to cry.  fuck.

through the sobs she told me shes 25, lives with her immigrant mom, and feels like she is behind her friends and The World.

i was all, bella, it’s not a race. also, do you wanna be a 30 year old divorcee with two kids? there are worse things than being an incredibly big hearted 25 year old in the back of the greatest uber in LA

she laughed and blew her nose into the jack in the box stack of napkins i handed her.

do you have cats, Bella?

yes! yes i do tony!

ok if your cats are fed and snoozing across the room and you are on the couch and you want them to come to you and lay on your lap, and you call them or scratch the couch pillow next to you do they come?

no, tony.

do they come if you haven’t fed them?

sometimes tony.

you cant feed these bitch boys baby. let this pretty man starve a little. stop telling him about places youre gonna be. stop inviting him to go hiking, thinking youre gonna lure him in your Alo pants. every girl has Alo pants.

i have Lululemon, tony.

i paused imagining that pretty voice in canadian seethru pants.

do you know what im saying Bella?

but tony what if he never texts me again?

Bella, we live in the second most populous city in the united states. what is your background?

i’m Salvadorian.

do you have any kids or an ex husband?


no offense but what? do you know rare it is for a beautiful 25 year old Latina to enter a dating  situation with no kids?

she started crying again comparing herself to the others.

no need to cry. you have an advantage over all the chicas. you dont see that when you go to Latin clubs?

i dont go to clubs, tony.

well promise me in 2024 you will. because you will get eaten alive. in the best way.

and we pulled over in front of the bar.

by the way, the entirety of the ride back she was leaned forward in that back seat, she kept bumping my side with her hand because she wanted to talk closer to me. occasionally she would say sorry if she hit my side hard.

i was wearing my covid mask.

at the curb she didnt leave that position. very close to me. she tried an awkward hug but mostly got the back of my seat. then she kissed at my face but pecked 89% mask.

i turned around to her.

trust me, dear reader, if anyone was overdue for a smooch at that time it was yours truly. i havent gotten a good old fashioned sloppy one since my last gf. years ago. its been quite the dry spell. but Bella was slurring, clearly emotional, and trust me, i know what i could have said to have gotten a tiny bit of action on one of those tree lined side streets off Riverside Drive.

but thats playing with fire.

so when i turned around to her, she retreated and laid back in the seat so i could get a good look at her for once and holy 2024, fresh face, beautiful hair, well pressed blouse and a pair of oversized Ann Taylor slacks you’d see Lauren Bacall wear with a blazer and no shirt.

she was dressed to get kissed.

and here it was 11:45pm and her body language was saying come here dummy.

i said holy shit bella youre a knock out. here’s the business card to my podcast. my email address is on the bottom.

next week i want you to go to a latin club in this exact outfit, and go alone and dance and speak spanish and if you are not the princess of the dancefloor with every guy in a cowboy hat sipping Modellos. and if they don’t all swarm you and fight over you, email me and tell me im an idiot.

youre not an idiot tony. and she leaned forward and took a picture of the business card and tried to kiss me again but i gave her mask.

she plopped back in the seat and pouted.

i could smell her ariana grande Ari perfume as i waved good bye when she finally slid out of the car. i waved but didnt look back because looking is what leads to these stories ending forever.

no tip from martha.