I'm back from Chicago after a long weekend (or a lean week) of sunbaking while watching bands that aren't quite ready for the big time play in front of many thousands of sunscreened assholes at the Pitchfork music festival, and I am just as happy as a clam. My friend J housed me as he always does: with some implausibly shaped pillows and a sleeping surface (after a manner). My favorite parts of these vacations to Chicago are always the weekdays, when he and his girlfriend are at work and I get to pad around the house siphoning oodles off his stash of PERFECTLY LEGAL DRUGS and watching grotesque effluvia on the NFL Network before popping in a Bond VHS tape on his St. Bernard-sized monstrosity of a television.
This trip, my favorite part was going to Chris's Billiards, the poolhall where they filmed that scene in The Color of Money where Tom Cruise has a temper tantrum and tears the balustrade out of the wall on the stairs.
J is better than I am at pool. Substantially better. This is infuriating to me, because I'm better than you are at pool. I'm better than you and your three best friends who are good at pool. I'll take your money, and I'll make sure you leave with a shaved ass when your wallet is empty, just because that shit is funny to me, and also, fuck you. I'll beat you in front of your girl with a fifteen ounce cue and a bee-sting on my aiming eye. I don't give a fuck.
But J? He'll buy and sell you for a dollar.
I managed to tie it up at 2-2 after going down 2-0.
The reason I was able to do this is because, as previously indicated, I am really good at pool. If being good at pool were the precondition for attaining a title in medieval England, I would be at least a Baronet.
But J? He would be something even better and more prestigious than a Baronet. He would be a Marquess or a Viscount or something else even more badass than a Baronet, like a Duke or a King even. And it seems to have nothing to do with skill level, at least not in the rustic American pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sense. I can and have practiced baroque bank shots for sixteen hours a day, and he can practice being handsome and having nicely windswept hair whenever he remembers, and he'll still beat me seven games to five at pool -- and two of the games I win, it'll be because I left him an insanely easy shot on the eight ball and he scratched it because he either (a) pities me, or (b) folds like a sucker when the shit goes down. Seriously, if I could compete with this guy based on intestinal fortitude instead of talent, I would maul him like some kind of fantastical bear that has claws on its teeth, because pressure crushes him into a little origami hula girl, and I eat origami hula girls for breakfast.
Unfortunately, J eats me for breakfast, so there's a weird Mobius strip effect going on here.
I had to sacrifice some handsomeness for anonymity in this shot. So I do him all kinds of favors in photography, but in pool I'm like his medieval puppy-dog bitch court jester.
Seriously, this is the kind of shot-to-win I leave him.
It turns out that I'm the worst pool player in the world, even though I'll still destroy you financially, ruin your marriage, and make your kids hate you on a single behind-the-back, double-bank 'n' kiss-off-the-nine combo.
Don't fuck with me. I'll end you.
(J racking because he lost like a hack coward loser. PATHETIC.)
Many years ago, J and I devised a strategy to cope with the most troubling problem in amateurish competitive pool: How do you know when to stop? As is our wont, it was decided that all decisions should be made in the most childish manner possible. We reckoned that, with children, the championship is never the championship.
This is how kids work -- the alpha-boy declares that the next game is to be the last game. Then, because even alpha boys are shoddily designed and often dressed constrictively, even he sometimes loses. But rather than suffer his ignominy with dignity, he deicides -- through the god-given fiat of being the handsomest, the angriest, and the first one to crack four foot tall -- that the game is not over. The championship isn't the Championship -- because we haven't played the Super Awesome Mega Championship yet.
And the Super Awesome Mega Championship is what separates the winners from the losers, and the prematurely pubed from the late-bloomingly shorn.
Naturally, I almost always win the championship -- the meaningless exercise that does nothing but give my oppressor an opportunity to try.
Then J comes back and bulldozes me with a six-ball run in the SAMC, and pretends like it's not a big deal.
But right here and right now, I've got a message for J. It's a simple message -- the only kind he can understand, BECAUSE HE'S TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND COMPLEX SENTENCES BECAUSE FUCK THAT GUY WHAT AN ASSHOLE AM I RIGHT?
That message is this: Next year, I'm going to crush you, you homunculus.