Hustle part 1

2:50:00 PM

My college friend Abet and I spent a lot of what should have been study hours in a pool hall. Once upon a time, I was quite a good player. I wasn't the best, but I was good enough. I even mastered a couple of trick shots! In our family home in Bulacan, I had a nice Kangaroo pool table. It was a gift from my uncle for my 16th birthday. To complete the billiard showcase, my cousin gave me a Minnesota Fats Maple cue. I practiced whenever I had time.

An upgraded version of my college home.
(photo from the internet)
My Dad taught me how to play. He's not a particularly patient man; on more than one occasion, he yelled at me for not concentrating enough. He wasn't training me to go pro or anything like that. He just has this incredible drive to be good at whatever he does. Trick shots weren't his thing, though, so I had to learn that from my high school best friend, Jeff. He practically lived in my house for a while, because it's the only place in all of Bulacan where he could play for free.

The house is no longer ours, and the table was sold with it. As for the cue stick, I gave it to the son of my former officemate after he committed suicide. I pretty much stopped playing after that. I never liked using pool hall cues - they're so poorly-made that they totally throw off my play. I haven't been anywhere near a pool hall in over three years, until I went to Dumaguete last summer.
It's in the bag.
Right before my flight back to Manila, my friend Jerry and I had a chance to play in Roadhouse Burger and Grill. It was my first time to play in years, and my eyesight has gone from bad to worse since, so I knew that I was going to bomb it. Surprisingly, though, I pocketed two of three games, so he passed on to me the hustler's proverbial crown with a promise to reclaim it when he visits Manila this December.

I miss playing, and I didn't even realize how much I did until I grabbed the cheap, bald-tipped pool cue in Roadhouse for the first break. Not playing for a long time made me really rusty, but it doesn't mean I unlearned the skills, the game. The dormancy may have even made me hungrier for a win. Now, I want more. I want to get my groove back. Might be harder this time because of my bad eyesight, though, but hey, it's not like I have plans to go pro.


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