Growing up we all had regulation-sized pool tables in our rec rooms. This was a very 70s thing. Pool halls were considered seedy, unlike today's trendy "billiards rooms." Nobody really knows what "billiards" is.
So my friends and I were pretty adept at pool. When we'd need money for dope we'd mosey on down to the local pool hall and hustle the locals out of their hard-earned beer money. Oftentimes they'd get steamed and break their cues over our heads. Once I got poked in the eye with a cue. That hurt.
I went to college and this continued. I would go down to the frat houses and common areas of dorms, wherever I could find gullible, drunken college punks. Always the same routine: Lose on purpose, playing for pitchers of beer. Nurse a beer as my mark guzzled his. Once he looked sufficiently bleary-eyed I'd spring the idea of playing for $5. Lose again on purpose. Double or nothing. Run the table. I never had to work in college.
My wife bought me a fancy $100 cue. My son and I started frequenting a local "billiards room." They serve a mean plate of wings and meaty chili. We chase these delicacies down with Red Bull and Coors Light. NASCAR is always on the big screen. There are always pool hos lolling about with their tattoos, strategically torn jeans and tousled hair.
I'm still pretty good even at my advanced age. My repertoire includes a dizzying array of spins, cuts and bank shots. My son, who is way into geometry, has embraced my philosophy than any angle is possible. He too is pretty good at trick shots.
So naturally we entered a tournament. Brimming with confidence I forked over the $20 entry fee (for both of us.) My wife sat looking on, mildly curious. Cigarette smoke wafted through the air. Pool and bowling are the only sports where smoking is still allowed.
It proved nothing short of a fiasco. Although the locals were indeed quite impressed with some of my off-the-wall angles. "How in the hail did you do that," they'd ask in wonder. But my downfall was the straight-on, meat & potatoes shots. They'd careen inches wide of the mark time and time again. My opponents never missed. Of five matches I won just one.
It soon became apparent that all the tournament newcomers (us included) were merely fodder for these two Hispanic guys who spoke no English. They'd routinely dismiss all comers to meet in the final match for all the marbles. Winner take all. I gathered that this happens every week.
Losers go home, dejected and mournful for the good old days. The saddest part was that my skills really haven't diminished that much. It's just that these other guys were better players. A bitter pill to swallow, that.
I'll be back over there tonight, $20 bill in hand. Maybe I won't get drunk this time.
While discussing his trip to Iraq today, the Prez said that his visit gave him confidence in the ability of the new Iraqi government to get the job done. My question is, what might you have seen that would have reduced your confidence in the Iraqi government? I suspect that this question has no answer. There is nothing Bush could have seen that would have reduced his confidence in Iraq, and this makes this so-called confidence entirely meaningless.
Brudda keeps talking about "winning," but I don't have any better of an idea of what this means now than I did last year. No matter what we do, we will only lose; lose young men and women, lose good will in the world, lose credibility. Even if we accomplish our goals in Iraq, whatever those are, what is it that we'll have won? What threat to our safety will we have removed? What have we done to make Iraq safer? None, and nothing. I don't like saying it, but that doesn't make it less true.