I’ve been watching a ton of pool lately. As in guys and gals with pool cues, on a pool table, hitting balls into pockets. Not a bunch of people with funoodles, bathing suits, and suntan lotion.
Don’t ask me why I’ve become enamored with the sport, though I can assure you it isn’t a totally new revelation. Back in the day, while still living with my parents, I would occasionally catch a game on some odd sports channel. Maybe it was the dazzling cleanliness of pool felt (American style tables look so clinically soothing). Maybe it was just hypnotic; perhaps it was just alternate enough to other sports, the kind I still can’t get into (I’m looking at you Football!). Either way, I’d get drawn into watching a match. It was mostly background noise, at times I would peek up from doing something else, like reading or playing Gameboy. Sometimes I would get drawn in, amazed at the shots and confused by the lingo. It was a really enthralling thing to observe.
My parents even had a pool table. Bright red felt sat atop a true regulation table. Oh, it was glorious! I could never do much with the cue sticks, rarely making a pocket. I knew how to play 8-ball, but that was about it. As far as any sort of in-depth knowledge on fouls, techniques and the like I was about as clueless as one could get.
That pool table was part of my childhood. I tried to play pool on it but often missed since my head barely poked above the table. It was more a place for me to build Lego towns, or set up huge battlefields of plastic army men; at time lincoln logs were thrown about in large architectural undertakings. It was always there.
Just like any other thing that isn’t the main focus of a family’s activities, eventually, we moved and it got dragged along with us only to be thrown into an unfinished basement. No one went down there, other than to find something of importance that got put away during a long-ago move. It became a place to keep vinyl records off the ground, or a spot to sit on while a friend and I dug through boxes to find albums. Or a spot to lean a guitar against, or sit drumsticks on during attempts to jam out in a terrible band formed of highschool days (that only played when my parents were out of town).
Then my parents moved once again, most of the kids out of the house and they wanted to downgrade. Alas! No spot for the pool table. It was given away. Gone; lost to the ages. No more Lego towns, or laughable trick shots to be done.
But now, years later, and I am all in. With one small issue: nowhere to play pool that isn’t a dive bar. Most pool tables I find in the area are used mainly as hangouts for old guys pounding beers, displays of silliness for girls who have had one too many. You often find that one Bro who can pocket a ball here and there, totally wanting nothing more than to show off because he, like everyone else around, has had more than enough alcohol in their system to kill a full-grown bull.
Pool tables that are not placed in beautiful pool halls are a thing that can be found if one goes searching, but not easily available. And it’s been years since I’ve played. I’m a shy person, a bit of anxiety goes a long way to keep me at home.
Point is: I wish I still had my parent’s pool table. I have nowhere to put it. I guess I could beg someone I know to store it for me, or pay crazy amounts to storage bins to watch the felt curl up and dry, the varnish peel and the plywood warp. Yet, it would be mine. A piece of the past to drag along with me. It’d be like that old car every Dad has kept in the back yard saying “If I get the garage I’ll restore it!” They never do. And I tend to think I would be the same way… but man, I can’t stop watching pool games.
Still… I would have a pool table for when I hopefully, eventually and with a just god-willing get a true house one day. (Ah! I can’t help myself!)
Let’s pretend for a second that I got a pool table; that I had a house in which to keep it, close at hand and untethered by aging records. What could be my next move? It’s hard enough to keep up with all the hobbies I want and try to have. I build gunpla and car models. I attempt to write, and make comics. With work overwhelming me at times; along with whatever crushing wave of sadness I am feeling at any given moment I find it extremely difficult to stick with anything.
Oh, but that sweet mistress of pool is a strong one. I love watching it right before bed. It becomes mesmerizing. I really do believe it is a strong form of meditation. Predicting where the balls might end up, and strategically watching the forces move objects around the table. Pool has also a way of satisfying that part of me that is a bit obsessive. That clank sound, and then the sound of a ball falling into the pocket. If you’re playing 9 or 10-ball, the amount of despair you can feel when someone hits a 6 instead of the 4! Oh! You can’t do that! But, that feeling of a pro running rack after rack, with no mistakes… That’s pretty awesome.
So, half of you have no idea what I am talking about. Mainly because, somewhere in the early 2000’s pool fell out of favor with sports fans. It now, much like bowling, has become a pre-occupation with non-Americans, or just dudes in the back of a bar. For anyone searching for their next odd obession; a deep rabbit hole of learning and intrigue I really do suggest finding some good matches of all-time pros on youtube. Start binging, because maybe you’ll be like-minded; and like myself and get really into it. Maybe you live around here, and maybe I can convince you to get a pool table in your awesome finished basement. And maybe you’ll let me come over to hone my game.