Gut Rumbles

March 06, 2008

Shooting pool

Originally published July 15, 2003

I haven't shot a game of pool in almost ten years now and I once was good at it. I played a lot of eight-ball on the quarter-per-game tables when I was making a living in the bars, but I also liked to go to the pool halls and play nine-ball and regular billards on the big turf with the best players in Savannah.

They wouldn't fuck with me after 8:00 at night, (and I didn't fuck with THEM, either) after the big money rolled in, because I was small fry. But just to warm up, win a few beers and maybe a $5.00 "get even" with a spot for the last game, they showed me a lot of good pool shots. I usually paid for it, but I also watched how they hustled. THAT is an art. After that, I could catch a greenhorn and pay for my lessons many a time.

When pool halls went upscale, they lost a lot of magic they once held for me. Hell, you've probably got 'em now where you CAN'T SMOKE in 'em. That ain't no fucking pool hall. That's a yuppie joint.

Gambling in the pool hall was illegal and signs were hung everywhere proclaiming that dictate. So, you went up to the guy behind the counter and said, "This one is for just a beer," (you each handed him $2.00) or "This one is for $5.00 (and you both handed him a five) and he handed you a fresh rack. You played the game and walked back up to the counter to say, "We'll have a couple of beers now!" Or, "Fresh Rack!" and the money was handed over to the winner with a 10% tip due to the guy behind the counter.

That's how pool halls worked when I was a young and wild man. I learned a lot about life and a lot about people in such places.

Do I want my son ever to visit those dens of iniquity? No...

But if he never does, he ain't his father's son.

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