Capone's Table 9
It's been a month since I played pool, maybe six weeks. I miss my daily trips to the poolroom and my practice sessions which on average lasted about 40 minutes. I would work on this and work on that, always playing by myself. When I first started playing in Florida, twenty years ago, I soon discovered that the old folks who occupied the tables in the afternoon didn't have any gamble in them, so I gave up asking if they wanted to play and got into the habit of practicing alone.
Where I grew up, everybody played for something, giving and receiving spots as the situation dictated. The only exception was when you played your sister. Then, you would just bang the balls around meaninglessly, which is what would happen if I got into a social game playing for nothing with one of the resident nits.
So, I practice by myself, still hoping to regain the skills of my youth when I would spot guys 25 to 50 in straight pool for a few bucks and the time. If you've never played straight pool, take my word for it – that's a tough game to win. I was a kid of 16 or 17, playing guys in there 20's who were out in the world working for a living. Of course, time is working against me – I'll be 73 in June; and, my vision keeps getting worse (cataracts); as do my tremors which at times shake my hands like an earthquake.
Nevertheless, I keep thinking I can get better. Now, I'm not altogether awful – I've dropped from a 7 to a 6 in APA and I think I'm a 5 in TAP – and I do have occasional flashes of brilliance, yet it's still disheartening to lose to players you know would have once ran and hid at the thought of playing you. Recently, displeased with my execution of long straight in shots, I adopted a new stance, more in line with that of snooker players who I enjoy watching on the internet. Same goes for my hold on the cue. I think that helped. But, not playing for what now seems like forever, is going to take a toll if I ever do find my way back to the poolroom. Right now, that seems doubtful.
I was one of the first, if not the first, to stop playing in our local leagues because to the coronavirus. Many league players bought the President's line that cries of alarm were a hoax, a leftest plot. They bitched about the league shut down and about quarantines. They're probably still bitching.
A couple weeks after I stopped playing, the leagues shut down. My preexisting conditions, diabetes and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, put me in real jeopardy. So, I've been pretty much holed up ever since then. So far, I'm okay.
Returning to the poolroom seems far away. I miss the game. I miss the people. But, I want to live and I don't know when or if I'll ever feel safe there again.