Monday, June 23, 2008


There’s a pool hall in Cypress. They run a tournament every Tuesday night and employ a handicapping system to level the battlefield.

Being a four, I’m awarded several advantages when playing against fives and sixes. Against a five, for example, I’m awarded the last two balls on the table in a game of nine ball. Against a six, I’m awarded what they call the Special Eight, meaning if I make the eight (as opposed to the nine) on any shot, I win. Against the rare seven, I’m awarded the last three balls on the table.

Anyhow, most take losing against me in stride, giving me a cordial smile after some bullshit shot I’ve made.

The first time I play at this tourney, the guy running it asks me, “do you recognize anyone here?”

“Yes, her,” I say pointing to an Asian woman playing alone two tables from us.

“Would you say she’s at your skill level? She’s a four. Who wins when you play?”

“We’re even. She wins mostly, though,” I say.

“This guy isn’t a four! He’s a five,” someone says from behind me, startling me. I turn and figure this guy’s being facetious as I don’t recall ever meeting or playing the saboteur.

“You can see me play if you’d like.”

“Nah, start him as a five. He’s not a four. He’s a five,” says the saboteur.

“We'll start you as a five.”

“Alright.” There goes my advantage.

I go outside for another couple of swigs from a bottle, a smoke and some talk with the other players. “Have you heard of So-and-so,” I ask my friend.

“No, who the fuck is that?”

“That guy right there with the bandana and pony tail. And he’s fat.”

“No, why?”

“He’s trying to sandbag me. I think. I don’t remember him from anywhere,” I say before my other friend’s name is called. I walk in to watch him play. He plays a four and he’s demolished quickly. “You did very well,” I tell him as we’re walking to report his loss. His opponent vouches to grant him a handicap of three and me a handicap of four. Excellent, how nice of her.

I went back outside for another smoke and another swig and heard my name inside. My opponent was the saboteur who was now at a disadvantage and who was surprised to have to give me the last two balls on the table. We played and he did well and he was happy until I made the 6, 7, and 8 and he became upset, upset like an ape whose territory I was occupying. I rack, he breaks and pockets all but the 7, 8 and 9 ball. He walks away from the table with a cocky smirk thinking I won’t win, but I bank the 7 and make the 8 and he storms off to talk to my friend about how I’m not supposed to be a five, not a four. Were he a cartoon, he’d be tomato-red with steam shooting from his ears. I offer to play as a five, that I don’t mind, but it doesn’t work. He keeps up his angry rampaging, throwing one of his cues onto the empty pool table next to us before deciding to rack his own break. He breaks and—this is the highlight of my night—he breaks beautifully, makes the one and the two but scratches and leaves me with a three-nine combo. I make the combo and win and he begins cussing loudly and goes off talking like a malcontent vagrant cursing God for his misfortune.

“Fuck this, I’m never coming back here again. This guy isn’t a four. He’s supposed to be a five! I thought he was a five!”

“I was a four until you said I was a five,” I say from behind him, startling him. He shoves his cue into his case and stomps out in a fit of childlike rage for a cigarette. I wait a second before walking out and passing him for another swig and smoke, but the euphoria I got from that paled in comparison to what that won brought me.

One of the cheapest yet most satisfying victories I’ve had.


City Elf said...

i like this one. but baby, in my book you're a 10. ;)

frank said...

Aw, thanks! But I know you're just saying that because you think I'm a ten. Oh wait.