Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Physics and geometry

I'm continuing to work my way through my 101 list, and I embarked on one of my goals this week. I have long wanted to play pool with some degree of acceptability. I've always been a crummy pool player. I sucked at physics and geometry in high school, and it has been years since I've studied angles. In addition, I've never been the sporty type. About the only "sport" I've done with any regularity is running/jogging, which requires little coordination and no strategy. I've barely "danced" my way through musical theatre roles in the past, always billing myself as an actor/singer who can walk. So clearly, the deck is stacked against me when it comes to playing pool well.

But Sandi told me a while back that her husband is a pool player. And when they came to dinner a week or so ago, he invited me to come play with him sometime. (The schmuck. He clearly had no idea what he was getting himself into, poor thing.) To my utter shock, he actually called later in the week and invited me to come out on a specific night and start learning how to play pool. (I ask you, how much more pronounced can the will of the universe get? If people are calling ME up to help me accomplish my goals, I think that's a sign. Somebody up there loves me, right?)

On Tuesday night, off I went to a pool hall. The place is in Byram, and it's called This Is It. (And I'm still not sure if that's meant as "Eureka! This is it!" or, after a dismissive glance, "You mean, THIS is it?") As one who doesn't spend much time at pool halls or bars, I don't have much to compare it to, but it seemed pretty nice and reasonably safe. It was packed with pool players, and everyone looked to be having a good time.

We got there early to practice a bit (and Lord knows I needed it), and I learned a little more about this venture. Turns out, this guy is in a pool league. And they were having an "official match" that night. And I was playing in it. Wha . . . ? THEN I learned the real motivation behind everything. He's on a team with a high handicap, meaning that all his team's players are pretty good. This handicap hurts the team, because it means they all have to score more points to win games. But by signing up a REALLY SUCKY player, their handicap improves. After the light bulb over my head went off, I said, "Oh, you need a BAD player? Well, shucks, then! I'm your gal!"

Over the next three hours or so, I did learn a few things about pool. I still stink, but, hey, practice makes passable, right? I lost all my games, and I think I only scored a few points all night. (Though I did knock the cue ball in repeatedly. Ooops.) But I'm learning. I'm learning something new. And I have to admit, I did have some fun. The other guys on the team were really sweet and didn't mock me for being awful. And I'm super-hoping that I improve over the next few months, because I'd hate for all their goodwill to be in vain.

Anybody got The Hustler on DVD? Or their old high school geometry book? Bueller? Bueller?


Anonymous said...

You did a lot better than you think. I also commend you for stepping out of your element and trying something new. You were a good sport all night and everybody on the team agreed that you did well for your first time out.
Pool is a difficult game, but it puts everyone on a level playing field regardless of athletic ability. It's a thinking (persons) game.
You will get better and hopefully you enjoy being on the team. It's nice when it's a group effort. I got phone calss from several of your teammates and they all said "You picked a winner" and not because of your skill level. You blended in well with the guys and you truly have a desire to get better. Wanting to improve is the key to it all. We were looking for a person that truly wanted to get better at the game.
So, don't fret about how you played, because you did well. Hopefully you'll stick it out and learn to enjoy the game.


HEATHER said...

That is really funny that they needed a "bad" player! Glad you had fun! I have always wanted to learn billiards myself.

Nicole Bradshaw said...

Mark - I hate to be a stickler for diction, but you actually "picked a loser." But that is OKAY. I had a really good time. Thank you for inviting me to play on the team!

Heather - Well, it's always nice to be needed, isn't it? Hee hee!

Sandi said...

Those guys loved you Nicole. Red said you were great .. they like your personality and you're smart. They know you'll catch on pretty quickly. If you're helping the team in the short run, more the better!

Sandi said...

We didn't pick "looser" I know a bunch of really crappy players. But, those players will pretty much be crappy forever. You have the chance to improve and that is not only good for you but the team as well.

We've had lower handicapped players before that had no desire to get better. They were content with being crappy and that doesn't do us any good. In another arena I can explain all this better. I asked you to be on the team because I knew that you are a new player that wants to improve.

So ... we'll pick out a practice day and work on some of the drills. Most of the guys on our team are basic dummies and they learned how to play. So being a super smart person like yourself you'll catch on in a hurry. And have you got a "pool" name you first time out.

Sandi said...

that was from mark