All I Need To Know I Learned In The Poolhall
We got trouble. With a capital T and That rhymes with P and that stands for pool. I played a fair amount of pool in my day most of which was in my Misspent youth. Misspent Youth? That would suggest my childhood was squandered, idle, profitless, and wasted. Bullshit! Certainly not squandered I had a great many experiences and adventures and not idle, I spent much of the time with my heart racing in anticipation of childhood fantasy’s becoming real. Profitless? Please, I had two paper routes, worked as a stock boy in a deli and washed pots an pans in a restaurant before I was 16 so I made a good deal of profit. Of course I saved very little but I did put most of it back into the economy. I was supporting the tobacco industry, alcohol industry, record industry and whatever was left over supplied the mall with odd and end purchases. Wasted youth? Well ye if you mean I got wasted a lot in my youth yes but I didn’t waste my entire childhood I got a valuable education. But it wasn’t in school that I learned all I needed to know to survive, it was at the pool table.
Life’s most valuable lessons. The first time I stood at the table it was awe inspiring. A perfect symmetrically balanced rectangle with four corner pockets, two side pockets, and a smooth beautiful green felt top. On the western end of the table sat fifteen perfectly round numbered balls arranged in an equilateral triangle. Seven of those balls striped, and eight of them solid. But one solid ball stood out from the rest. Dead center of the triangle sat a most menacing looking black ball with the sign of infinity on it. Stunning. The east end of the table was where I stood, with a blank white ball with what looked like permanent light blue smudge scattered about it. This was my cue ball, as shiny as Mr. Cleans chrome dome of a head. I placed that white cue ball right on the dot which seemed like the proper place to begin. I would later learn I could in fact place it anywhere I desired behind that center marking. No worries, it was my first attempt anyway, I had a lot to learn. I stared down the table and looked at the triangle of balls. I knew what to do, I had watched many others play pool. I’d watched Minnesota Fats on TV too so I had a good idea how it was done. My brother showed me how to hold the stick and aim towards the balls. From there I was on my own. I pulled the stick way back, stared the white ball down, and let it fly as hard a I could. I hit that mother with all the strength a frustrated adolescent twelve year old should have. I took my sexual pent up frustrations out on that booming shot. The white ball took off like a space ship on warp speed and shot across the room in blissful arching trajectory. It searched for and found the wall with a loud crack, bounced three times on the floor and landed on a towel on the floor, effectively eliminating my shot as well as my dignity. Seemed as though the laughing would never subside. My first lesson? You can’t do precision work with a sledge hammer.
It takes finesse, something that also came in handy with the girls. The sledgehammer may look impressive, but a skilled worker makes the most of all his tools. In pool if you go too hard you end up scratching, but with the ladies if you try to hard you’ll en up all alone scratching your ass. So in life as well as pool its important to know how hard, or how easy to approach each opportunity. Don’t just start swinging your sledgehammer around everywhere trying to impress. It’s not how big your pool sick is it’s how you use it that makes you a winner. Judgment and charm baby! Don’t overcompensate, huge wheels on your pick up won’t make you a better driver. Finesse!
As the game went on I learned other valuable lessons. Like taking turns and only shooting when its your shot. Not only fair it keeps you from an ass kicking as well. Take someone else’s shot when they’re ready to sink a ball and be prepared to fight, guys are very possessive about their balls. Go for it when its your turn. Review the table and weighed your options. ! I see the 15 ball is sitting very close to the corner. I line up all my angles (Its geometry so pay attention in school) and let fly. A direct hit, the 15 ball smack dab into the corner pocket. Unfortunately the white ball liked the 15 so much it followed right behind and disappeared in the corner pocket as well. Lesson here was all about placement, you don’t want everyone watching your balls go in your pocket.
No need to be a bull in a china shop. Ease your way around the green felt table, don’t go bouncing your cue ball too hard, the balls may look sturdy, but they’re quite delicate. It seems I scratched again so now I wait.
When my turn came around again I surveyed the options again. The 12 ball was near the corner pocket but the 7 ball was blocking it slightly. If I went for the 12 I would have to figure out how to go around it. Hanging right at the side pocket was the 9 ball. I couldn’t hit it directly but it looked like if I tapped the 11 ball right it might roll into the 9 and knock it in. I opted for the side pocket keeping in mind how hard I hit the last one. A light tap into the11 and it slowly rolled over an nudged the 9 convincing it to fall head first into the side pocket. The 11 settled onto the cushion just beyond the side pocket and the cue ball just barely moved past where the 11 had formerly been. This left me with very few options for my next shot
This taught me style and finesse will help but its still important to look ahead. That young lady is real hot and sexy but if you don’t plan ahead how to make her happy she may end up against the cushion with someone else. You need to plan your future moves if you want a lasting relationship, I went for the lust. Now I‘m in a jam and if I thought ahead and hit it just a tad harder I would have lined myself up and maybe cleared my balls.
Basically what I learned at the pool table is if you want to get to Carnegie Hall take the E train to 7th Avenue an 57th, but if you want to sink your balls in the right pockets, you need to practice, practice, practice. Carefully aim you shots, never come on too strong, and once your in your groove go with the flow, cuz as your game goes on you get hotter and hotter.
One last thing…..beware of hustlers, there are plenty out there. They will make you think you play on the same level as they do, but when it comes down to getting what they want over what you want, they get suspiciously good at their craft.
Then again fuck it man, life’s a gamble…….. Rack em up!