I am a terrible pool player.
Yet, despite this, whenever someone at a bar asks me to play against them or be their partner, I’m like sure, yeah, I’m totally in.
I mean, I’m having a good time, I’m in a good mood, so I sort of tipsily swagger over to the cue rack on the wall and pretend to be sizing them up. “Oh man, all the good ones are gone,” I always say extremely loudly, my eyes darting around at the other players with a sad little “Yeah, it’s true,” head nod, being careful to plant seeds of disappointment early so nobody expects me to actually sink a ball.
After that, I begin a desperate search for chalk. “Gotta have some chalk, gotta have some chalk,” I’ll mumble, as I walk in circles around the pool table, looking underneath it and in all the pockets until I find some. And when I do, I really go to town. Honestly, I rub my pool cue in that chalk and twist it around tightly, and then I flare the edges to cover up all the missed spots.
If all goes according to plan, I’ll keep chalking my cue until somebody breaks. The goal here is to avoid eye contact until the game starts, because otherwise I might be asked to break, and that’s never a pretty sight.
No, the four or five times I’ve foolishly agreed to kick-off the game end up embarrassing everyone involved. I’ll generally skid the cue off the side of the cueball, sending it wildly spinning directly into a side pocket. Or I’ll get under the ball by accident and send it flying across the bar, where it’ll softly roll up against the boot of some pony-tailed, tattooed biker dude, who will then shoot me a cold, piercing stare and begin punching his fist into his palm.
But what I will do if I can is peek up from my obsessive chalking just before the break, so I can watch the break, because I love the break, because the break is great. I mean, it’s an explosive crack that rises above the background bar buzz, and captures everyone’s attention as the balls fly in all directions.
Yes, the sound of a solid crack from a good break in billiards is the sound of a good fifteen to twenty minutes of fun getting started. And it’s the sound of people enjoying themselves with a couple of drinks, some good friends, and a great night.
And that sounds a lot like