Playing Pool Sober


I was in a bar last Saturday night. A roadhouse without much to commend it – wide open, a surly barmaid, a jar of pickled eggs (does anyone eat those things?), an empty stage and a couple of pool tables. The kind of place where you might cry into your boilermaker. Annie and I were attempting to thank Gary – the guy who towed us out of the snow – by fronting him a beer. He wasn’t having any of that. He said, “I’ve never had a girl buy me a drink before, and I’m not going to start now,” and handed a wad of cash to Miss Grumpy so there would be no chance we could pay for his libations.

We were all talking about – I don’t know – the kind of things strangers talk about in bars, getting up to feed the juke box and being largely ignored by the John Deer swathed patrons at the next table, the only other people at the bar. I did what I always do in those situations: contributed a bit, observed a bit more.

Gary is one of those people whose resting face is a smile, but I wouldn’t want to cross him. I was listening to the guys talk and I kept eyeing a pool table sitting beneath bare, capped wires where a light used to be. It occurred to me I have not played pool since I quit drinking…

Jon Jon will tell you I was a shark. I even had my signature “winner’s dance.” He says it made him want to “kill me” or walk away before he did so. I would sing an annoying, “Oowah, oowah,” and raise my cue stick over my head like I was pumping a barbell. I pretty much always won. Unless I got too drunk.

There was a point when I was in the zone –  seriously buzzed, but not drunk yet, where some of my shots were truly brilliant – inspired banks out of nowhere and combinations, behind the back amazements to quiet the room. A few more drinks and I lost interest – nothing went in a pocket and I just petered out…

So there I was in a bar with a beat up billiards table and a couple of guys who have been around a tavern or two and I said, “Anybody want to play?” There was some talk about the lack of light, but we racked them up (I love that sound) and played partners. I didn’t do my signature victory dance; in fact I lost every game, but I had moments of rusty brilliance. I think sober and with a little practice, I might be a masterful pool player.

I’m going to challenge Jon Jon to a game the next time I see him.


Today I’m not drinking because I am beginning to like the things I did when I was drunk BETTER now that I am sober, OOWAH, OOWAH!

How come you’re not drinking?