Playing Pool with Strangers

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Fourteen striped to the corner pocket. 

I think this to myself and wonder if it’s possible. I have only played two games of pool in my life. The only thing I accomplished was learning how to hold the stick right. 

See, I’m not an expert. I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be called a stick. 

But last night, I played pool with strangers, and for a moment, it felt like a home I knew nothing about. 

They told me the inside jokes, who was related to whom, and the skill level needed to beat each player. But what was more comforting was how they were patient with me. 

There are two ways to teach someone how to play pool; an invasion of personal space or walking them through the methods and motion of what it means to pay attention to what you see. 

Pool is a game of trajectory. If you know geometry, you’ll still lose, but at least you’ll know why. Your trajectory was off; you lacked the speed needed to land the shot, and your stance was too high. 

When you play pool with strangers, they’ll tell you all of this; you have to hit with the angle of a spin in mind. It’s not rocket science, but it is a science of its own. 

The white ball must hit your target at such an angle that it defies common sense. What makes it more interesting is how many you can hit in a row. 

I watched them play against each other before deciding to join in. 

Eight ball, corner pocket. 

But it missed the whole completely. There is no such thing as being an amazing beginner for me. Pool is an art form I have yet to master. 

And while Brene Brown may recall how she once played pool, dabbling between a beer and a cigarette. She, too, found it true; the ones who made playing pool look easy have dedicated years to the art. 

It isn’t easy, but with time and practice, you can play with the feeling of living in the moment. 

When you play pool with strangers, it becomes something to remember. 

Eight ball, corner pocket. 

And this time, you might just make it. 

If you want to know more about my work, check out my latest poetry collection.

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