Monday, April 14, 2008

The Billiards Bitch

Today I decided to pick up a billiards cue again for the first time in almost a year. I love playing pool. I spent most of my college career playing pool. But law school eats your life, even as a 3L, and I was sorely out of practice. No matter, I was back now. Reunited and it feels so good! I popped in my headphones and got to work.

The billiards table at HLS is upstairs in the Hark, in the same room as a large TV and several groupings of comfy chairs. A couple of guys were sitting close to the table, so I made a mental note to not hit them with the cue, and pushed away the few remaining chairs that might get in my way. And so began my painful struggle to get back on top of my game. I was grumpy about my faded skills. But besides having to squeeze around the two close-sitting guys and occasionally sacrificing shots because to make them I would have to run the cue up their noses, things were generally okay for the first game. When I had to go for a ridiculous shot (or skip one altogether) because the guys were in my way, I reminded myself that they were there first. The game ended and one of the guys left. I went over and pushed his chair away from the table so it would no longer be in the way, and began game 2.

And this is where the trouble really began.

First, as I was playing, a guy walked over with his approximately one year-old son. He held him up to the edge of the table so the baby could see the game. This would be fine, except that he had placed the child right over the pocket I was aiming at, while I was aiming at it. Not only was he and his son staring directly at me, but the little boy kept reaching down towards the pocket. I'm not sure if he could have reached in, but I was really worried I was going to crush his little fingers if I made the shot. I looked up at the father. He smiled pleasantly and jiggled the boy. I couldn't concentrate on the shot at all, as I had a thousand thoughts now swirling through my head. What if the ball popped out of the pocket and hit the baby? What if it crushed his fingers? Why was this guy standing over my shot, anyway? Should I go for the 10 after all? How long is he going to stand there? Am I cutting this too hard?

So I stood up, and changed my shot to go for the side pocket instead. AND THE DAD SLID DOWN SO HE COULD BE LINED UP WITH THIS SHOT, TOO! I decided to just go for it, swirling thoughts and all, and of course, missed terribly. I walked around the table for my next shot, and was standing right next to the dad. I gestured to the shot I wanted, indicating he was in my way. He smiled again and slid over about 6 inches, so that for me to get lined up properly, I would still be standing right on top of him and the baby (whose fingers were covered with ick, I now noticed). I took my shot from where I was, again, missing terribly. I guess I don't thrive under the baby pressure, because I didn't make a shot until he walked away. Then I sunk the next five.

But the trouble didn't end there. Soon after the baby-daddy left, a woman walked over and pulled one of the chairs that I had pushed away over to the table. She set it with her back to the pool table, about 4 feet away. I didn't see her do it since I was looking down at my shot at the time, but sure enough, the next shot would have me lining up right through her. I walked over and stood next to her chair, and held my cue at a high angle so as not to jab her in the back of the head. She jumped up anyway, pushing the chair into me. I turned and looked at her blankly. She stared back with pursed lips, and I decided, no matter how rude it might appear, not to apologize for standing on top of her to play my game. I was there first. She pulled the chair into my path. I hadn't actually hit her, she hit me when she pushed out of her chair. We stood there face to face for a few long seconds. Seeing I was not going to apologize, she huffily picked her things up out of the chair and moved to another one, farther away. I pushed her chair away again and continued playing. But now I felt guilty, and my head got more clouded. Should I have apologized to the lady? Asked her to move before I took the shot? And what was up with that dad? Am I the Billiards Bitch of the Hark?

In the middle of my third game, the guy who had been sitting so close to the table all this time finally got up and walked away. I quickly pushed away his chair and went back to my game. A couple of minutes later, he was back. And staring at his moved chair. And me. Apparently, he had just left for a snack, and had not actually left-left, as I thought. He glared at me and nudged his chair a bit. I took out an earbud. "Sorry, I thought you had left." "No, I just went to get something." "Oh." And then he pushed his chair all the way back to where it originally was, right beside the table.

Ok. Now I am annoyed.

He knows the chair is in my way, he's been watching me play for the last half hour and having to squeeze past him. And it's not like I pushed his chair against a wall or something, I just moved it four more feet away in a giant open room. Could he not sit there and eat his snack? What was it about being three feet from the table that was so important to him? He cannot claim settler's rights anymore, he had gotten up and not left any item to indicate he was returning. The chair was fair game. He had taken his hand off the chess piece, and it was my move. With jaw set, I finished my game, less considerate of his space this time around.

Who knew that getting back into a game I enjoy so much would annoy me so thoroughly? Seems the forces-that-be were conspiring against me today. Perhaps I can squeeze in a game or two tomorrow with better results. Until then, I have decided I don't mind being thought of as the Billiards Bitch. You can't claim surprise when you sit next to a billiards table, so stay out of my way. At least until I've improved my rusty game a bit!

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