Day 50: Aurora, CO

Awoke feeling amazingly refreshed and alert,
ready to shoot pool for the first time in a week.
But first I had to endure a marathon phone conference
for the bank's board meeting.
After that, which ran to 7:30pm local time,
I rushed over to the pool hall, without eating.
Can it really be that I prefer pool to food?

"Georgia Boy" was engaged in a friendly game of 9-ball
with some rube who had no hope of winning
the 'friendly' stake of 5 bucks a game.
GB saw me come in, and without exchanging a word,
he pointed to the next table, his favorite,
making it obvious that he would be with me soon.
The Rube was nearing his limit of 50 bucks in the hole.

So I bellied-up to the counter, got the balls,
and started in shooting, just to get loose,
not expecting much after a week of inaction.
But YO! I was shooting like Willie Himself!
It was like I had super-vision because I was
cutting stuff in from all over the table.
Even Quiet Pete who was sitting in a nearby chair,
and who, as his name would imply, rarely speaks,
was driven to exclaim "Nice shot" several times
when I would pull off some amazing display.

He was a bit baffled when I chose a shot that
was a virtual guaranteed scratch, and also
a close to impossible cut, and I accomplished both,
simultaneously... always a fun thing to watch and do.
He asked why I didn't take another much easier shot
that was available and that would give me better
position for the runout.
When I told him that I was running the tables
in Rotation (always lowest ball first),
he went back to Quiet mode and never said another word.

Soon enough, Georgia Boy had cleaned out The Rube,
and he sauntered over with his Balabushka already
stowed back in its case, which he put next to mine,
and went off to wash his hands of the blood and grime
from his last battle, and to prepare himself for me.

We played for four hours, all 8-ball games,
even though that game is way down his list of preferences,
but since it is the game I need improvement with,
and since he is my teacher-in-absentia,
and since I am paying...

Our session taught me a lot, or it might be more precise
to say that our session reviewed a lot of what I
already knew, but needed to get hammered into my head again.

How many times must I hear things like:
Full Stroke.
Use Less English. (especially when using Inside English)
Center Ball.
Shoot With Confidence.
Keep It Simple.
Don't Overthink.
Killer Instinct: Finish Him Off.

His slip-stroke is mesmerizing and his presence
at the table is smooth, natural, and so full of confidence
that the rare miss leaves any witness, and himself,
completely dumbfounded.
But it isn't about him, really, it's all about me, learning.

He tells me, several times: "Don't open your legs!"
But I have absolutely no idea what he means, until I ask,
and he gives me a look of complete frustration,
the way Einstein might look at an idiot doing 2+2=9.
And explains (?) that I am opening my legs when I shoot,
as if that is the explanation I needed. Duh.
And then he translates again, this time with success:
"Stay Down".
OH!! STAY DOWN! Why didn't you say so?
Probably because he speaks a different language
learned from 50+ years of playing for the rent money.
A language I could barely expect to understand
especially after playing him only a few times.

And, of course, if HE is frustrated with my stupidity,
just think about how frustrated I am.
And there are all the normal miscommunications too,
such as him telling me to hit with low left
when he really means low right,
and I would normally hit the shot with low right,
but since God is telling me low left, I figure
low left is going to reveal some secret result,
but of course I miss the shot and it looks
utterly moronic to him and he tells me again
to hit it with low left, and I do, and I miss,
and then he takes the table to show me how to
hit the shot and he hits it with low right
and gets perfect shape, and I remind him that he
told me to hit it with low left and he tells
me that the shot needs low right, not left,
as if I had it wrong all along and I would have
to be the complete buffoon that I look like
to hit it with low left regardless of what he says,
(if in fact he did say such a thing, which is ridiculous).

It's not worth arguing about, of course,
and as the student I need to just let it go
and learn the lesson.
Another instance comes up where he tells me to
hit with low inside, but I tell him that I think
I should use outside middle english, so that
I push another ball to the rail to shape the next shot.
He shrugs and says "Show me", so I do, and it works.
And now we reach a place where he lets me try stuff my way.

I explain to him that when he tells me how to hit each shot
that it slows down my rhythm, and makes me think too much
and then I can't hit anything right, and that maybe
if we just played a few games without comments from him
I would shoot better, so he goes with that plan.

He wins the first game, I win the next two.
He wins two, I win one, and on it goes and I shoot good.
Good enough to stay with Georgia Boy,
and that's plenty good enough for me.

It's midnight.
No food since lunch.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Gotta call it quits so I can get some sleep,
so I can get back "on the road" the next day.

I drive GB to the 711 near his home,
he gets out, we shake hands, and then we are gone.

He's one hell of a shooter,
with a slip-stroke that is pure butter,
and probably knows as much about the game
as any man alive.

It was an honor to be his student,
just for a little while.

1 comment:

Robert Johnson said...

Really fun reading this today, thanks...