LAS VEGAS — After working on a sports gambling movie “Fever Pitch” with Ryan O’Neal and Richard Brooks, me and Mrs. Ecks & Bacon were invited to a Hollywood/Beverly Hills dinner party.
This was back in the early ’80s. I was married in 1980, had just started working at the New York Daily News and was the only bank for my wife and four kids. Making just $350 a week was pretty good back then, but we still had to be a little careful where we spent our cash.
We needed a ride to the party, and opted NOT to hire a limo but rather rent a car. We scoured the Yellow Pages – it was the go-to because we had no Google or Siri back in the day – and found a place called Rent-A-Car-Dirt-Cheap for only $9.99.
When we arrived at Dirt Cheap, the guy showed us to a stylish Buick LeSabre. Looked fine from the outside, and the inside looked OK with a beautiful multi-colored blanket covering the front seat. Grab the keys, get in and the first UH-OH is the electric window that is not working.
The window would not roll up, but we were in L.A. with 80+ degree temps, so no worries. Turned to Mrs. Ecks to ask her what she thought of the car, and the blanket falls off the top of the seat, revealing a GINORMOUS HOLE in the FREAKIN’ seat. Strike two.
As we’re pulling up to the house in Beverly Hills, we notice a bunch of limos and two valet guys. We made a quick left and drove two blocks away. NOT gonna give the valet guy a sad-sack Buick after seeing a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and a Benz pull up in the driveway.
Inside there was a cozy eight-person table with O’Neal, Diane Keaton, Farrah Fawcett, Dyan Cannon and Richard Gere. All eyes were on me because Brooks had asked me to give a little Sports Betting 101 class to the table. It took me almost 20 minutes to explain the point spread in an NFL game, and another 10 to help with the crazy concept of a favorite and underdog.
Then Gere or O’Neal (can’t remember which) asked me to explain the moneyline in baseball. “What does -140/+120 mean?” So, I told them that you use $100 as the base unit, put it in between the -140 and +120, then read from left to right. Totally LOST everyone at the table and, thankfully, dinner was served.
Fancy-schmancy servers in white outfits dropped some corn on the cob on our plates as the appetizer. Dyan Cannon was sitting right next to me and was definitely a little flirty. She asked if she could butter my corn, and what was I gonna do, say no? To the woman who was married to the GREAT Cary Grant?
Truth in advertising, I’m NO Cary Grant.
However, people did mistake me for Al Pacino back in the day, so there’s that.
Dyan buttered my cob, very carefully, put it up to my mouth and I could see STEAM coming out of my wife’s ears. I was just starting to explain a three-team 10-point teaser after dinner when Warren Beatty walked in with Goldie Hawn, and obviously, NO one wanted to hear about adding points to either side of a bet.
Heading back to our hotel, the damn Buick DIED on Sunset Boulevard and we had to call AAA for a tow. STRIKE THREE!!!
Oh yeah, I also slept on the COUCH!!!
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his Email...firstname.lastname@example.org.