don’t step in the butter

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I say old chap... do subscribe... you shan't be disappointed

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Fabulous Wisdom
Occam’s Razor cuts again

I say old chap... do subscribe... you shan't be disappointed

I recently received a nice email from a reader. In particular, I very much liked the following sentence from that email and thought I would share it with the rest of the world:

… shoot straight, masse if you have to, kick if you must, jump as a LAST resort.

This embodies the simple style of pool I prefer to play. Play for the dough, not the show.

Thank you, FH, for your eloquence.

 

 

Such A Cute Idea
but it wouldn’t work, trust me

hahahaha!

As I have said before, my better half plays very well.

One league evening, he was doing his usual endless break-and-runs when a spectator asked me, “You two must practice a lot together, right? That’s why you’re a good player, too, isn’t it?”

“Oh no, we very rarely practice together. And we certainly don’t play barbox eight-ball together.”

“Why not?”

“We have very different styles of playing. It’s tough to for me to learn from him and vice versa.”

“Really? What are the different styles?”

“I miss. He doesn’t.”

 

 

Gift That Keeps On Giving
merry f—ing xmas every f—ing day

bleh to you

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program already in progess… Which is an eXtReMeLy long rant. You would do well to get yourself a snack or a beverage before proceeding. You have been warned…

 

Let me tell you about a loss from last week.

I’ve had some people remark that I seem to write a lot about losing. I can only answer that, well, I lose a lot. A LOT. That’s my lot in life at the moment, and that’s all you’re gonna get.

But, yes, continuing on…

 

Last week, I lost a league match 5-0.

I had played my opponent before, and in that previous match, I had also played terribly. However, the difference was, I had played terribly in the beginning of that match. I had been losing 0-4 and I somehow managed to grind it back to 4-4. On the hill game, I was running out and I ended up losing because the eight-ball double-banked into the wrong pocket. Rats.

This time, I had my misfortune early on in the first game where I was on my way to running out when I disturbed the layout and the eight-ball ended up in a position where it had no pocket. I managed to play a Hail-Mary shot on the ball before the eight-ball and — milagro! — the cue ball ran down to the cluster and broke out the eight. I had a shot on the eight and it was ugly, but it was makeable. I had to cut it very, very thin, which I did, but the cue ball scratched after.

You rat bastard of a cue ball.

Long story short, I efficiently and quickly lost the next four games, and the match with them.

 

I took the loss very well externally.

By that I mean I said nothing, broke nothing, and hit no one. Whew. That doesn’t mean the loss didn’t suck. By ALL MEANS it sucked, and it sucked like a Hoover with an aftermarket exhaust, 24-inch rims, and a plywood spoiler.

This was a good time to leave the scene of the crime. I needed to pay league fees for the upcoming season so I headed out to the car to get my checkbook. (Not only do I suffer in league — I actually pay for the privilege of suffering.) The weather was nice outside and I took a moment to review the loss.

I didn’t feel that I had played bad, but I definitely could not say I played well. The 5-0 score reinforced the fact that I had not played up to par. I had made a handful of nice shots, but nice shots don’t win you matches — unless all your shots are nice shots. In every game, I had blown chances to win, especially in the hill-game where I had to back-cut an eight-ball and it didn’t drop. People might say, that’s a tough shot to shoot under pressure and it’s easy for a good player to miss that type of shot. I would say that had I been a great player, I would have made that shot, pressure or not.

As many of you have heard me say in tones ranging from normal indoor conversation voice to furious Wagnerian operatic intergalactic rant, “There is no excuse for poor play.”

I lost my match because I played poorly. That was all there was to it. It was not the equipment, the opponent (annoying), the opposing team (even more annoying), what I ate for dinner (Vietnamese noodle soup — very tasty), or the phase of the moon (32%, waning). I lost because I played like crapola, and when you play bad, you deserve the loss.

Reality, as it usually did, put me in a massively irritated state of mind.

Fate, as it usually did, decided to exacerbate the situation.

 

A former teammate of mine, Kojak, was in the parking lot, talking on his cell phone. Still on the phone, he came over and asked me for a hug. I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person to begin with, and when I’m going through a nuclear meltdown, you should probably just back away or else I might leave you with a healthy green glow.

I told Kojak, “Dude, I just lost 5-0 to <insert name of opponent here>. It was pretty bad. I’m not going to hug you right now. I need, like, five or ten minutes, okay? Just give me a moment, okay?”

“Aw c’mon. It’s just a game, girl! Who cares if you lose? Gimme a hug!”

You probably know me well enough by now that these words failed to, uh, comfort me or make the situation better. I mustered up all the self-control I had, and said again, as calmly as I could, “Dude, give me a moment, okay? I’m not in a good place right now. I need a little time to cool off.”

“It’s just a game! Why does it mean that much to you? It doesn’t mean that much to anyone else.”

Honest to God?!

aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!

Well, of course it doesn’t mean that much to anyone else. They’re NOT psycho bitches like me. I’m inclined to think there are not a lot of people like me in the world. If there were, the world would either be embroiled in constant warfare (because we’re competitive and easily ticked off) or entangled in constant peace (because we understand each other and we’re all happy as a result). Fortunately for this world, there is just ONE of me — and that one is MIGHTILY pissed off right now.

 

I wasted the next fifteen minutes of my life shaking in anger, trying to control my rage, watching my language very, very carefully, attempting to explain WHY I was not in a hugging mood, and trying to avoid being hugged.

Kojack was not hearing/understanding my reasoning.

I am not s—ting you when I tell you that at one point, my blood pressure was so high and I was straining so hard not to say mean things or apply beatdowns to all items, both living and inanimate, that my vision temporarily blacked out. I could NOT understand, for the life of me, WHY getting a hug from me was SO F—ING IMPORTANT to Kojak. This guy had played with me on a team for at least six months. He had been witness, first-hand, to my reactions to various jackoffs and losses.

 

People don’t always see eye-to-eye because they only see the situation through their own eyes.

I understood that Kojack could not, for the life of him, understand why my personal space and some reflection time was so f—ing important to me the same way I didn’t understand why a hug was so f—ing important to him.

Hugs, solitary confinement, breath mints, personal hygiene, Blue Diamond chalk, money, gummi bears — it’s all the same. They are important to some, and not to others. We don’t know why, and we don’t have to know why. They just — are.

Kojak, at heart, meant well, even if he didn’t understand me, and I knew it. Knowing that he was acting out of ignorance and not malice also made this situation more difficult for me. If he had acted out of malice, then I would be justified in unleashing the dogs of hell upon him. I knew he hadn’t so all I could do was do my best to take his redonkulous mixture of crap without going postal.

He finally gave up his attempts to get a hug and left after saying in a sing-song voice, “Don’t forget! I’m your friend!”

Umm… yeah.

Sigh.

 

I hate you all.

A few days later, I entered in a big-table eight-ball tournament.

I was playing for the hotseat, and I lost miserably in a miserable match. It brought back memories of the league match I described above because I, inexplicably, did not feel like I was necessarily playing bad, but since I didn’t win and the score was lopsided, I knew I didn’t play well.

It was a nagging conundrum, made worse by the fact that my opponent’s personality and presence grated on my nerves. I’m not sure if I had a good reason to dislike this guy (he looked familiar, pool is a small world, and a good amount of pool players piss me off) all I knew is that I DID NOT like him — in the same way a lot of people do not like me. As I like to say about people I dislike, as well as myself, “your results may vary”. I may hate him, you may love him. I certainly know that is the situation with me — either you get along with me, or you don’t.

Veering across four lanes to get back on topic…

 

In the last game of that set, as in the entire set, I was given a chance to run out when my opponent, let’s call him Howie Mandel, missed.

My first shot should have been a fairly routine stop shot with a slight angle. The shot itself was not too difficult, it was the position I needed afterwards that might have been a little tricky. I needed to stun the cue ball just enough to move it sideways a few inches. It was important to get position on the next ball, but it was imperative to make the first shot.

I got down to shoot and as I was taking my warm-up strokes, I noticed a flurry of movement directly in my line of sight. I did a few more warm-up strokes, and tried to ignore the movement. Right as I shot, the movement turned into some sort of a flourish.

I got perfect position on the next ball.

But I had missed the shot.

I looked up and it wasn’t Howie Mandel who had sharked me, but rather, another tournament player who had been practicing on the next table. He had been watching my match. He had also been drumming his fingers, and right when I had shot, he had reached over for a cube of chalk.

I should have got up off the shot when I had first detected the flurry of fingers and recomposed myself, but I had not. The reward for my impatience was loss of the match. To someone I disliked greatly for no good reason.

Grr.

That’s two big losses to two jackholes within just a few days. I had lost both matches the same way. I had been given chances, and I had not capitalized on them. Pool was not really an attractive hobby at the moment. However, I had one match left, and so, I decided not to divorce pool entirely, yet.

 

I hate you all.

For the next forty minutes or so, I experienced what osso bucco feels like — that is to say, I spent the time stewing in my own juices. My mind was a jumbled art film of images that mostly pertained to all of my recent failures. It’s a pretty horrific place to be, and I know almost all of us with competitive hearts have spent time in that madhouse theater.

My match was called. It was the last match of the tournament and I playing for third place (the tournament had been round-robin, so first and second places had already been established). Third place was also the last paying spot in the tournament. Third place would get an economy-boosting $15. Fourth place would get nothing.

When I got to the table, I found out that my opponent was the guy who had (perhaps inadvertently) sharked me in my previous match. Let’s name him Sketchy Squirrel.

I did not like Sketchy Squirrel.

I know.

I dislike someone.

What a surprise.

Woo-farking-hoo.

Let’s veer back across those four lanes of traffic again and take a short rest stop at the side of the road… Go ahead and pee behind the bushes, I’ll just keep talking.

 

Sketchy Squirrel lives up to the name I have bestowed upon him.

I first saw him at a tournament the week prior. He had been practicing on the next table. He was about five-foot-one, scrawny, bald with a goatee, and he proudly sported a collection of monotone tattoos.

I took note of the random placement of his tattoos. It seem like he had gone to one of those supermarket prize-dispensing gumball machines and emptied it of its temporary tattoo inventory. He then must have spread these tattoos after removing the protective plastic sheet, in no particular order, on a lawn. Next, he turned on the sprinklers. Once the temporary tattoos were nice and wet, he rolled around in them.

This, of course, is just a dramatization of the actual process my brain came up with. Who knows what the real process was like? Anyways, I didn’t pay any more attention to him and continued with my practice. I took a break and as I sat there drinking a bit of coffee, something caught my ear. Sketchy Squirrel and another tournament player, let’s name him Bullcrapple, were talking rather loudly. They were talking about pool players — pool players that I knew.

I normally don’t eavesdrop as I know it’s rude, but it’s kind of hard not to do it when it’s being broadcast into your ear with a megaphone.

So, I listened.

I gathered that Bullcrapple had recently played in a weekly tournament and had split the finals with one of the better players in that tournament. The tournament that they were talking about was a barbox nine-ball tournament with very short races. The tournament was a popular tournament with many good players. Of course, the short race made it difficult to win. Nevertheless, it was usually one of the higher-level players that won.

Bullcrapple was telling all who would listen that the guy he split the finals with most likely wanted to split rather than play out the final match because, as Bullcrapple told it, “I don’t think his ego could have taken another ass-whipping from me.”

I found this interesting. I knew Bullcrapple’s opponent in the finals was a very good player. He was one of the regular winners of that tournament and he most certainly was NOT afraid of Bullcrapple in any way. Bullcrapple was capable of winning that short-race tournament, but for him to say that his opponent’s ego could not have taken another loss — well, that’s just a little assholic.

I continued to listen.

“Yeah, yeah, I know those players over there. They all think they’re sooooo good, right? But they’re not, they just THINK they are.” This was Sketchy Squirrel playing harmony to Bullcrapple’s melody. “They’re not even that good. I know I can hang with all of them.”

“Yep, yep, that’s them all right. I sure taught them a lesson that night. They ain’t so good and they need to know it!”

“Yeah, I hate them, I’m glad you beat them.”

“Yeah, they’re nothing. Just a bunch of talkers that want people to think they’re good players.”

“Yeah, screw them, man!”

Bullcrapple and Sketchy Squirrel continued to talk about how good they were and how terrible everyone else was. This was mildly annoying on many fronts, the first of which was that they were talking mad s— about my friends. Second, I would consider myself a pretty good judge of speed in pool, and I knew that the players these two were dissing were very good players that would not hesistate to gamble or apply other forms of beatdown to these two if they knew what was being said. Lastly, from what I had seen, neither Bullcrapple nor Sketchy Squirrel were great players at all.

I asked my better half, “Why are these two talking smack about how great they are and how bad everyone else was at that tournament? Surely they know they aren’t as good as they are making themselves out to be?”

My better half smiled at my naivete and said, “Look around you. Who’s here? This is a dinky neighborhood tournament. Bullcrapple and Sketchy Squirrel can talk like that here because they probably are the best players here. None of the regulars here know about the other players, and those players they are talking s— about aren’t here to defend themselves. That makes it easy to believe the talk.”

“Oh. That’s lame.”

“That’s pool.”

“But we know those other players. How can they talk s— about our friends when we’re here? Do they not know that we can hear them? They’re talking extremely loudly.”

That, I don’t know. People do crazy things all the time.”

Later on that day, I played Bullcrapple and beat him by a fair margin. My better half completely decimated Sketchy Squirrel.

 

Done peeing? Okay, let’s get back on the road to the present…

So, having listened to Sketchy Squirrel talk so much s— on more than one occasion, you can imagine my dislike for him. I firmly believe that if you claim your game to be of a certain level, you’d better be able to defend that s—. Don’t claim to be a professional if you do not have the credentials to back that s— up. Don’t talk about how you can crush someone else unless you are willing to say that to their face and back it up with whatever they’d like to bet. Honesty in advertising, peeps!

Anyways, in my state of mind, the last thing I wanted to do was to play someone that irritated me, but I did not have a choice. I put in my iPod (at least I could avoid talking to Sketchy Squirrel) and the game was afoot.

Sketchy Squirrel was not a bad player and he enjoyed hitting the balls hard and sending the cue ball several rails at a time. He obviously favored a flashy game, and he really went wild with using side English. He accompanied all his successful shots with a strut that would put Mick Jagger to shame, and all his unsuccessful shots were accompanied by dramatic arm waves and pleading-eyes-to-the-skies-why-me supplications and pouting.

I seriously hate melodrama in the game of pool. HATE IT. And more so when guys do it. (Although I have to say, it was kind of oddly amusing to see this would-be tough-guy munchkin with all his tattoos acting like a spoiled prissy girl.)

As Sketchy Squirrel continued freewheeling and bouncing around the table, I was struggling to stay in the game. He had taken full advantage of my errors in the first two games and had run out. I began to sink deeper into negativity as the memories of my recent s—tiness in pool began to replay on an endless loop in my mind’s eye. The tournament was loser breaks, race to four, and here I was, already down 0-2 and my match was less than ten minutes old. I broke the third game and made a ball, but did not get a good layout. The cueball ended up on the bottom rail, and while the rest of the rack was spread out, I had no decent shot from that position. If I missed, Sketchy Squirrel would probably run out. Hmm. Life sucks. Yep. I stood at the bottom rail and thought again about all my recent f— ups and wondered why I couldn’t get a goddamned break, just once…

 

In case you haven’t noticed, I dislike losing.

This dislike for losing is a direct product of my extreme competitiveness and mission for perfection. I demand a lot from myself and I hate it when I don’t live up to my own standards. I take losses extremely hard and oftentimes I will think about losses for quite a long while. This is not a good thing, since the negativity often snowballs and brings me down further when I am playing bad.

In my pool lifetime, I’ve had much trouble letting go of losses. My competitive introverted perfectionist nature simply does not allow the forgiving and forgetting of mistakes. Some players may try to find something positive in their loss, such as a well-executed shot, in order to soften the blow of losing. I rarely see things like that. I may have made a nice shot — but I still lost.

I am a very intense person and this intensity is both the strength and the weakness of my game. There is a oft-spouted (and totally overused, nowadays) Latin phrase that sums it all up quite nicely: “Quod me nutrit, me destruit.” This roughly translates into “What nourishes me also destroys me.” The great drive that pushes me to take Greyhound bus trips to qualifiers and win internet death matches is also the drive that tells me nothing but the best is good enough. Therefore, until I am the best in the world, I don’t believe I play good pool. I am my own harshest critic and my own toughest opponent.

Many of my friends tried to help me “get over” losses. All the conventional methods (“here… have a drink”) and maxims (“at least you learned from your loss…”) didn’t make a dent. One day a girl friend of mine who wasn’t a pool player, told me about how she visualized unpleasant memories as a dandelion clock. Each little seed represented something negative. She would meditate with the image of the dandelion clock and at the end, she would visualize herself blowing the seeds off the stem as she did as a child. Thus, she was blowing away the negativity and ready for a fresh start.

Intrigued, I asked her, “So, where do the seeds go?”

“The seeds?”

“Yeah, the seeds — with the negative crap and stuff.”

“Well, I blow them away.”

“But where do they go? Like, where do they land?”

“What? No, it’s not literal, it’s a metaphor.”

“Dammit, that doesn’t really help.”

“The negativity dissapates into the wind, like the seeds. They go away because you’ve let them go.”

“Yeah, but when I lose, the loss still stands. Blowing dandelion seeds doesn’t change the L to a W.”

“Dammit, you’re too f—ing literal. Get some spirituality, will you?!”

“Does spirituality come in vitamin form?”

“Oh, f— you and your logic.”

Warning: Blowing Dandelion Seeds of Negativity into An Imaginary Wind From Whence They Shall Never Return is not for everyone. Ask your doctor if Blowing Dandelion Seeds of Negativity into An Imaginary Wind From Whence They Shall Never Return is right for you. In some cases there have been side effects including nausea from overly-saccharine metaphors, uncontrollable laughter at the silliness of it all, and hay fever.

The dandelion imagery did not work for me, but it did introduce an interesting concept of embodying the negativity as an imaginary item. As with many things in life, I took my friend’s charming technique and ever-so-slightly modified it to suit me and my un-charming personality.

When I lose, there is nothing that will make me feel better. Pity, hugs, alcohol, shopping sprees — nothing changes the past which is crappy play and a s—ty loss. Those results will always be there and the feelings I associate with the loss stick with me forever. I hate the feeling of losing. It is one of the s—tiest feelings imaginable to me and the only way I have found by which I could successfully dimish that feeling within myself is this: pay it forward.

That’s right.

I hate losing SO MUCH that I want YOU to feel it instead.

 

As I stood at the foot of the table facing an imminent loss at the puny clawed hands of Sketchy Squirrel and remembering the pain of recent losses, I envisioned all that negativity as a ball of napalm. Every bit of pain I felt was another layer of fuel on this burning ball. By the time I was done thinking, the ball was pretty much like the molten surface of the sun. If I held on to it much longer, I’d lose my hand and/or burn to death.

 

I finally began to think.

Sketchy Squirrel’s penchant for reckless play and shotmaking could certainly be used against him. On my previous lost games, he had won because I had missed tough shots on the way to running out. Once the table was open, he had plenty of room and didn’t need to be precise with the cue ball in order to run out. I had a few open shots with this layout, but all of them were tough, and I certainly did not want to let him back to the table with an easy layout.

I played a boring, ball-bunting safe and left the cue ball on the bottom rail.

Sketchy Squirrel came to the table fired up to shoot something but soon realized that, despite all the balls on the table, he did not have a good shot. He seemed surprised by this, as he should have been. Prior to this, I had tried to be a runout machine and did not play much defense. I was chasing the break-and-run rather than chasing the win. After a little head scratching, he played a similar safe on me. He gave me a self-satisfied smirk as he returned to his corner where a few women were now sitting and watching the match.

I went back to the table, and played the same safe again. However, by now there were no more balls left with which he could play that one particular safe. He strutted up to the table and the longer he looked at the layout, the more he — deflated. He seemed to lose patience and just randomly chopped at one of the balls in a low-percentage shot. He missed but didn’t seem to care as he puffed out his chest again and went back to his corner to chat with the girls.

I began to run the balls, but I was rather timid in my stroke since I hadn’t been playing well so it was only three shots later that I was out of line. I had a difficult, but makeable cut shot to shoot. I considered shooting it, but I knew if I missed and sold out, Sketchy Squirrel would have yet another fairly open table to run. Furthermore, Sketchy Squirrel was obviously a momentum player — a player who only shot well when things were going his way and he felt confident. I decided against the shot and played a safety instead. I couldn’t play a lock-up safety where he couldn’t see his ball, but I did the next best thing which was to let him see a shot or two, but those shots were very difficult and if he missed, I would run out.

Sketchy Squirrel came back to the table and he seemed peeved by what I had left him. The cue ball was once again stuck on the rail and his two choices for making a ball were either a severe bank or a three-ball combination. I was, of course, gambling at this moment. I was betting that Sketchy Squirrel would rather play for a shot than play for a safe. Everything that I had noticed about his game and his personality pointed to an aggressive mentality. He did not disappoint me or his female fans and heroically shot for the triple-ball combination with great gusto. He missed, and I ran out.

Sketchy Squirrel seemed surprised that I ran out, and hurried to rack the balls. He broke the balls hard and they spread out well. He began to shoot, seemingly without thought, and soon, he had created some clusters on the table where there had been none before. Finally, he ran out of open balls to shoot. He tried a to bank one of his balls out of a cluster and missed the bank. I played a solid safe. He missed the kick, and I ran out.

This time, he didn’t talk to the girls in his corner before he went to rack the balls. He racked fast, ran back to the head of the table, and broke with no warm-up strokes. He seemed to have slug-racked himself because only a few balls made it out of the rack and the rest were tightly clustered together. I got up and when he looked up from the results of his sissy break, I could see the fear in his eyes for what was to come. I did not disappoint him, and safed his scrawny ass to death before running out.

The score was tied now, and it never got better for Sketchy Squirrel. As the match went on, he seemed to panic more and more. He struck the balls ever harder, applied ever more extreme English, and pretty much went into losing overdrive. I had broken his momentum, and started up my own.

Finally, when the score was 3-2 in my favor, I tried a touchy shot during my runout and scratched. Sketchy Squirrel had all his balls on the table, but they were all sitting pretty, as was the eight-ball. My last ball, on the other hand was in an extremely unfavorable position — there was only one pocket for it and even then it would be a tough shot with ball-in-hand. Sketchy Squirrel walked around the table with the cue ball and I could see that although the runout would not be particularly complicated for him, he had lost his previous confidence and now was unsure of what to do. I was not the favorite to win this particular game any more due to the tough position of my last ball, but I’m not sure he knew that.

I went back to my seat and my better half and I discussed the runout I had been on. “That would have been a hell of an out.”

“Yep. I just didn’t get to that last ball, and I had to be super-precise with the position, too.”

“I know. You’re still doing good, though, and I think you’re playing better and he’s playing worse.”

“That’s for sure. And you know, it’s never too late to dog it.”

We looked back to the table and Sketchy Squirrel placed the cue ball down. He then shot one of his balls in the side pocket, but for no good reason, drew the cue ball backwards with great force. The cue ball crashed into a group of his balls by the opposite lower corner pocket, caromed off two of them — and scratched neatly into the pocket.

“What. The. F—.”

“Told you. Never too late to dog it.”

Sketchy Squirrel had tried to use the cue ball to break up what he saw as a cluster of balls by the lower corner pocket. If he had been more observant, or perhaps in a better frame of mind, he would have seen that none of those balls were tied up. Each of them could have been made without the need for a risky breakout shot.

I still had a tricky shot and I carefully aimed and measured to see how much room I had. I placed the cue ball down and took aim. A fluttering movement caught my eye. Instantly, I remembered the previous match I had played where I had seen exactly the same flutter. I didn’t move or get up off the shot, but I looked to see what was fluttering. It was Sketchy Squirrel, drumming his fingers in the exact same way he did before. Amused, I adjusted my stance just the tiniest bit. I did a few warm-up strokes, and then pretended to deliver the final stroke. As expected, Sketchy Squirrel reached for the chalk at the exact moment I delivered the pseudo-stroke and even began moved forward. He stopped short when he saw that I had not actually shot the shot. He saw me looking at him and moved back to his spot sheepishly.

I walked around the table again to clear my head. I placed the cue ball again. I looked at that glossy white surface and envisioned that burning ball of negativity I was holding. I thought of Sketchy Squirrel’s shark move, and the ball of fire burned brighter and hotter. In my mind’s eye, I turned, wound up, and threw that ball of napalm at Sketchy Squirrel like Nolan F—ing Ryan and watched him burst into flame. “Merry f—ing Christmas, asshole.”

Armed with this pleasantly positive imagery, I got down, shot the ball in the side, made the eight, and won.

 

Sketchy Squirrel threw his cues into his case with ill-concealed rage and stomped — well, a guy his size doesn’t stomp — tippity-tap-danced out of the room. I took out my earphones and went to put my cues away. As I talked to the spectators, I learned that my victory was much sweeter than I had imagined. Sketchy Squirrel had been trying to put on a show for the girls that were watching the match. When the score had been 2-0 in his favor, he had told the girls not to go drinking without him because he “was almost done winning”. Throughout the match, he had kept assuring them that victory was his. Aww. He lost to a little girl. Serves you right, you smurf-sized bastard.

“He said you’re an asshole for not talking to him during the match.”

“Yeah? We’re both assholes. Difference is, I’m the asshole that won.”

 

A spectator came up and said, “Now that you’ve won, are you going to smile?”

Honestly, I HATE this crap. What’s with the smiling thing? Is this because I’m a chick? Probably. Ugh. I said matter-of-factly, “No, I am not going to smile.”

“Why not?”

“I didn’t play up to par. I missed a lot of shots, misplayed a lot of position, and I could have lost that match very easily.”

“Looked like you played good to me…”

“I could play better. We could ALL play better. Did you see the beginning of the match? The other guy played great. Just about never missed a ball and I was well on my way to losing. That little f—er was on a roll and I had to find a way to stop him.”

“Well, sometimes you get on a roll, step in the butter, and slide right off.”

“What?”

“You know, you get on a roll, step in the butter, and slide right off…”

“That’s hilarious! Okay, I’ll smile now — but only because you’re talking about food.”