Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Milestone

I’ll be 62 end of June which explains why I had to go to the local Social Security office the other day – three months before your birthday is when you’re supposed to sign up for SS benefits. Can you imagine? Whoduhthunkit? Little Ace Toscano, the kid who used to spend most of his time standing in the corner at North Dover Elementary School, in Dover, NJ, is about to go on the public dole.

Basically speaking, what it amounts to is a few more bucks in my pocket. I already have everything a guy could want – six pool cues, two nice Instroke cases, a loving wife, a daughter, friends, six pool cues (oh, I mentioned that), a new HP pc, a new Insignia TV, and a 2003 Hyundai to get around in.

Still, my visit to the SS office marks a milestone. To be honest, back when I was a kid, back in the 50’s and 60’s, I never gave much thought to one day reaching the ripe old age of 62. In fact, I would probably have bet against it. Yet, here I am.

And, I’m still relatively healthy. Getting around pretty good. And playing pretty decent pool. Fact is, and I’d appreciate it if you don’t spread this around, I’m still getting better. No, I’ll never be able to play like I could when I was a kid growing up in the pool room, but I’m a whole lot better than I was when I took the game up a few years back after not playing for some 38 years. And, believe it or not, I’m actually seeing the balls better than ever, especially the cue ball. It’s damn scary.

I don’t have any fantasies about going pro or even about winning our local open nine-ball tournaments. I compete in them every once in a while just for the hell of it. But, I compete pretty well on the bar scene. In the two bar leagues I was in, I battled for top individual point leader most of the year, captured it in one and came in second in the other. And both teams I was on won league championships. And I have to be one of the favorites in any bar tournament I get in.

Hey, I might as well enjoy myself while I can – who knows what’s waiting around the corner?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Visit from The Dutch Boy

“Dutch Boy Tommy” Nederland, my old road partner, stopped by the other day. Just seeing him brought back memories of hundreds of pool room adventures and misadventures we shared. The day he showed up, we shot the shit till the wee hours.

Generally speaking, Miss Helen isn’t happy when my old pool playing friends stop by. Not so with Tommy. Tommy’s funny, plus he can be very polite when he wants to be. Miss Helen appreciates that. And, he always leaves us with something we can talk and speculate about for years to come. Like last time he showed up, he had a Russian girl with him. In our private conversations, we always refer to her as the “mail-order bride.” Not that she was – we never did find out how he came up with her – but that’s what we called her. Her most telling feature was her obsession with toilet paper. Tommy showed us the backseat of his Lincoln – it was crammed full of toilet tissue, every brand under the sun. Maybe, she was going to file a report with those assholes at the KGB. Who knows?

This time there was no Russian. His little chickadee was a beautiful young gal he found in the wilds of western Montana near Libby. He really hit the jackpot this time. It’s no wonder we haven’t seen him for a while. This girl has no strange obsessions though there does seem to be a mystery surrounding her name. He introduced her to us as Cora Beth, but a couple times we heard him refer to her as Kari. We didn’t question him about it – we just let it slide. Miss Helen formed a quick attachment to Cora Beth and they’ve been swapping emails ever since. I think they’re even planning a get-together up in Libby somewhere down the line. She so much as told Tommy that if he trades her in for another model, Russian, Chinese, whatever, he best not bother stopping by our hacienda next time he’s in the neighborhood. I think she meant it.

Of course, we did play some pool. He was dead set on playing me some one-hole. That’s why we wound up playing a couple cheap $50 sets of nineball. I beat him for a quick hundred and he moaned about not getting a chance to get square but the girls called us on the cell saying they were ready to get picked up at the mall. So, that was that.

Before they left, we took Cora Beth and Tommy out to the Outback Steak House in Port Richey for dinner. It was the perfect ending to a nice day. Especially since I paid for the whole thing with my winnings and still had twenty bucks left. Life is good.

Here are some pics we took that day:

(L to R) That's Miss Helen, Cora Beth and Tommy

Tommy, Kari and Me at Hudson Beach

The Girls and Tommy on the Gulf

Shooting One-handed at the Outback

Kari and Tom

Look at that pair, the three of us.