Oddball in the side pocket

Recently, my family took a weekend trip to New York City. Once unpacking of suitcases was complete and the where’s and hows of sleeping arrangements were established, the younger minion felt a powerful jones to go on a tour of the hotel. Since we don’t travel very often, and when we do we usually stay with relatives, I could understand his excitement.


Crispy and exhausted from the train ride my lovely bride showed no interest in the endeavor. I, being the noble and refined gentleman that I am, offered to take said minion to see the sights. Our room nestled in the seventh floor corner. Two large windows providing views of tall buildings lining long streets and peering down on the ant sized crowds of foot traffic.

Inside the center of our tall building stretched two glass elevators. We rode up and down a few times to grasp the building’s enormity and make rude noises of course. Once we exited the machine, minion sped off to the lobby. I hobbled behind with my cane noticing the large interior restaurant and bar. Thoughts of a nice glass of bourbon on the rocks were quickly dashed by the sound of a near hysterical voice.

“Dad! Dad!” I quickened my lurching around the nearest corner to find a wide eyed and slack jawed child. “Dad, they have a pool table!”

Tan felted to match the decor of the room, the legs were thick and intricately carved. Not some discount store entertainment room gamer, this table was masterfully constructed. I’d wager it cost considerably more than our entire four person packaged trip to the city.


“Can we play?” He stood high on his toes, grin nearly tearing the corners of his mouth.

“I don’t know bud.” I really was tired from the train ride and we had a long evening planned ahead of us. “Mom’s waiting and we’re going to dinner soon.”

“But I’ve never played pool before.”

Full stop.

Flag on the play.

Cartoonishly rounded Exclamation marks danced through my exploding brain pan.

I had failed him. Twelve years old and never once played a game of pool? How could I have let this happen? Who was I to call myself a Dad if I continued to deprive my son of his American Birthright?

My best friend growing up had a pool table in his Rumpus Room. (Don’t you just love that word, “Rumpus”? Hopefully one day I’ll own a house and call it “Rumpus House”! But, I digress.) We’d spend hour after hour playing pool and listening to Rush or Genesis or Iron Maiden records on the hi-fi. Plus, they had a layover that converted the table so you could play Ping-Pong. Fortunately for us, his parents room was upstairs so we were allowed to make more noise than we probably should have.

None of my minion’s friends have a pool table, and we don’t usually frequent the seedy bars or strip clubs where I assume they reside in our small part of the country. First things first, I showed him how to hold the stick. Then we quickly ran through a cursory list of rules until his patience wore transparently thin.

He asked me to break, since he didn’t know how. Keep in mind I haven’t played the game in years and I was never a very good player to begin with. But, every now and then the angles aligned (iA iA Cthulhu ftaghn!) and I wound up blasting the ball solidly in the back of the corner pocket. Lucky for me, I took a shot where two of my balls followed each other into the side bringing “Ooohs” and “Wows” from the minion.

“You’re a professional dad!” My ego decided to allow the myth to continue for as long as the minion chose to believe in it. I spent the next hour or so watching him play and attempting to make suggestions on how to shoot correctly. Every one met with a nod of his head, a frown of stubbornness or the complete and total state of ignoring me. Still, we had a blast.

The next day my Great Uncle and Aunt came visiting from their home in the city. We, the manly men, adjourned downstairs while the women folk attended to their primping. Walking through the lobby, my minion suggested that we play another game of pool.

“You know, this game cost my mother an entire semesters worth of college tuition!” My uncle smiled at the table happily joining in. Sipping my water, I heard familiar words being spoken quietly into the minions ear. Those very same words of instruction that were so swiftly ignored the previous evening, now followed with a fierce intensity.

Oh well. I’m only Dad. My advice flows in through one side and out through the other. What more should I expect of my future Pool Shark?


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  • reply Scarydad ,

    Growing up, all my friends who had pool tables were so insanely good at pool that it wasn’t really all that fun to play against them. I would break and then they would clean the table. I never truly enjoyed playing until the seedy bars where even the good players had a 2-3 drink handicap.

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