My turn to break

411: Bedrock Billiards

If my funeral were held today, you’d be listening to: Aretha Franklin’s “Say a little prayer”

I quit drinking for December. Wait, backspace, I quit sugar for December, which by association means I’ve quit chocolate, bourbon, gin, beer, port, chocolate, soda, ginger ale, diet soda, fruit cake (good riddance), Krupin’s blintzes, and chocolate. Sadly, this include the panopoly of substances that I and many others foolishly believe makes you talented at pool and darts. You’ve heard the myth, “I always play better after two beers, but beyond that, it goes downhill.”

With that in mind, an former non-drinking coworker from Wall Street and I cram ourselves full of Ethiopian food and head out to my favorite Adams Morgan pool hall.

For the duration of this story I’ll call him K. Because K doesn’t drink, I couldn’t ply him with liquor and then get him to sign the release I needed to use his real name. I even bought him a series of caffeinated drinks, thinking that if I saw his hand shake enough, I could just put a pen in it and hold the release form under it. I tried, but he was still sober enough elude me and to hide the pen when the check came, forcing me to pay for dinner. You’ll just have to settle for “K”.

Waiting our turn for a pool table, we find ourselves shooting darts for a half an hour. Feeding the hungry jukebox the last $5 bill in my wallet, K and I resist the urge to pick an all-Beastie Boys set. When the person stocking the jukebox installed every last Beastie Boys album ever printed, that apparently wasn’t enough. So he (or she) asked the bartenders what they liked to hear and mixed a couple of albums for the machine, labeling them “Jordan’s favorites”, or “Jean’s favorites”. Apparently Jordan and Jean both love the Beastie Boys. At this point I feel under siege by Mike D and the Dalai Lama. Even the Dalai Lama must get tired of these guys after a while. I imagine Tibetan prayer chants sound good after relentless inflictions of “Sabotage” (my favorite Beastie Boys song).

We assemble an entire non-Beastie set, and proceed to get our pool table.

K’s got a long and promising technology career, but he also happens to be a talented photographer without enough work to support himself entirely behind the lens. Me being a newly-minted photography geek, I immediately get out my new camera and start nerding out.

K and I have the same type of camera, though his is a professional grade one, and mine’s the “you’d-buy-cocaine-with-this-money-if-you-were-a-bigger-idiot” uber-hobbyist version. (“For the hobbyist who can be talked into expensive gadgets, Canon offers the MoneyPit 5000 Digital Rebel SLR. It automatically checks your blood sugar while adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and white balance. A wide variety of Canon lenses are available for the Canon MoneyPit 5000 Digital Rebel SLR, for those who haven’t done enough damage to their personal finances and their spousal relationships after the initial camera body purchase!”)

Of course we’re going to start messing with the camera and the pool balls. It was pre-ordained from the moment K suggested we go play pool. K racks up the balls, adjusts the camera settings, and carefully positions himself right above the rail about an inch or two off the table. Both his head and my camera are mere inches behind a row of five heavy billiard balls that I’m about to hit hard. Really Hard. “How hard do you want to hit it?” my personal Greek chorus asks. “I want to hit it as hard as Cheney wants to invade Iran.”

I’m sure K won’t hesitate to sacrifice my camera to protect himself. (“The Canon MoneyPit 5000 Digital Rebel SLR can be used as a substitute for a human shield in billiard rooms, war zones, the urban mugging environment, Washington DC’s Shaw neighborhood, and anywhere else you feel threatened!”)

As I’m drawing back the cue stick to hit the ball as hard as I can, I hear K ask desperately, “Now, you’re not going to bounce it, are you?”

Hell no man, I just bought that camera.