It's not about the house.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I've Got A Hunch It's Me From Here On In

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it around here, but I used to be able to shoot pool. I have my own stick and everything. I even paid dues for a little while to the APA. But (for reasons that I won’t go into here) I haven’t played since Johnny and I moved in together, fourteen years ago. That old stick’s in the attic, probably moldy, almost definitely warped beyond repair.

But I’ve been working the kinks out of a lot of things these days. My old lucky jeans, for instance -- my make-my-ass-look-so-good-I-distract-opponents jeans I used to wear back in my shark days, that I hung onto for nostalgia's sake, never thinking I'd fit into them again -- are two sizes too big for me right now. And so this week I decided it was time to get my new ass back up on that old horse, if it would have me. It shied away a little at the get-go, that's for certain. But I've always had a certain knack for whispering spooky horses down...

I went to that bar I told you about, see, and I decided to play 9-ball – because playing 8-ball by yourself just makes no sense, and because in 9-ball you don’t have to call your shots. Which is a good thing when you haven't played in fourteen years. Even if you're playing by yourself.

I sucked for a good long while, and that was difficult to take, because I still had the eye for it but the muscle wasn’t there. It’s one thing when you don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re shooting ducks and table-scratching and giggling like a stupid little girl. It’s a different situation altogether when you can see the 2/4 combination off the cushion in the corner, but nothing you can do will make it go. There were three tables at the bar, though, and I was the only one shooting, so I had no audience and loads of time.

After a couple hours a pair of older gentlemen came over and asked if I wanted to tag-team them at 8-ball. They were bikers – sleeveless t-shirts, black leather vests, the whole nine yards – and they treated me with the utmost respect. Said they’d been watching and could see I knew what I was doing, but everything was just a little off. I explained it was my first time on the table in fourteen years and asked them not to tiptoe on my account, and they didn't. They beat me fair and square, over and over, until all of a sudden it came back and I started beating them.

And then the older one – the 60-year-old-looking one with just one eye – asked me if I wanted to take a ride.

No, you filthy pigs. He meant on Harleys. Our Harleys. Because, you know, I have one.

I don't, of course, but everyone up here assumes I do. What’s up with that? Every time I set foot in a bar, it’s just a matter of time until somebody asks me if I ride. And yes, I’m positive they’re talking about bikes. I’m starting to feel like a bit of a poser, actually, especially since I’ve never so much as been on one in my life. I’d like to, but somehow I just never got around. Anyway, is it the boots, do you think? Is that just how Downeasters say hello? Or -- because both men and women have asked -- is it some secret Maine code-word for “are you a lesbian”?

Anyway, I explained I didn’t have one, so he offered to take me out on his. But I politely declined that invitation. I mean, as much as I may fantasize about some biker dude throwing me over his bitch seat, when it finally happens I'd like to think he’d be a little closer to my age. And, if possible, have two good eyes.

So the gentlemen bid me adieu and I played myself again for hours, only this time the horse was under my control. Under control, hell -- I had that spooky motherfucker licking sugar out of the palm of my hand.

I heard the ka-chunk when I slammed the quarters in. The thunder-roll. Ran the triangle back and forth along the felt (and back and forth and back again) for a tight rack. Found the right stick even though they weren’t marked, because I still know what 21 ounces feels like. Felt the familiar smoothness of the cue ball in my hand as I placed it all the way over to the left. Made a solid break, with follow-through. And closed the table.

Other things came back, too. Things that aren't about the game itself, but are just me. The way I chalk before every shot, superstitiously, or else it simply will not go my way – and then I have to put the chalk down over there. The obsessive way I wipe my hands off on my jeans when I come back from the bathroom, because they’re still a little wet from being washed and that can fuck up a good shot. The way even that washing doesn’t get the blue chalk-circle out from underneath the college ring I’ve put back on.

I've got my English back. I've got my drop shot. I've got my cut, my pull, my long shot, and my kiss. I've even got the 2/4 combination.

Off the cushion.

In the corner.


And then on the way home I swerved to miss a deer and crashed Mom’s car. I may be on my way back to shark again, but I am still and will always be Destructo.


Jenni said...

I am in hopes the crashing the car part was to aid in the story telling, however the italics make me think didn't?!? OH NO! Hope you are ok.

Ladyscot said...

Hope you weren't hurt, and that Mom's car is not too badly damaged! Did I miss something, though? You crashed "Mom's car"...what happened to Rose?