Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where's my Balabuska!??!

The game of pool has wound some weird, clackity-clack thread into the life of Max. Some of my earliest memories are of wandering around Stu's, the bar at the crossroads near my Uncle's house in Wisconsin. Stu's was the hub of activity 'round those parts for everything from turtle races to posting deer hunting stats. My Dad and Uncle Bill would sidle up the bar, forget they had kids and the barmaids would pump quarters into the pool tables so that the shorties could bounce balls around on the table. Too short for sticks, we'd just bounce balls around with our hands until they were sunk. Stu's also had one of those awesome bowling games where you'd slide a puck at actual pins down a mini lane. That was when I realized getting quarters off the old man was like getting blood from a stone, regardless of Blatz consumed.

Something about the table has always drawn me in: the felt, the sticks, the geometry. In college, before we were legal, many a night was passed in the basement of the union with cue in hand. Then, after close, we'd move to the basement of our dorm. My first Christmas break from college was spent in the rec room at my Grandma's condo playing pool by myself or whoever happened in. CNN on the TV and snow whizzing past the 15th floor windows. Later, a gang of us ceramics freaks would drink and shoot stick after an evening clay class. The same gang was super-impressed by said grandmother's lake cabin, replete with a table within falling distance of a fridge. We spent a week, half-naked in a heat wave, kicking each other's asses. Katie and I partly fell in love playing loads of eight-ball.

Pool, I guess, has always meant family and romance to me. So here's Max, really, really loving the game while we visit Smokey at the long-gone Alzheimer's floor. Perfect 'cause, if not for Smoke, there'd be no hippie Uncle in the boonies of Wisconsin and no fabulous cabin up Nort'. It kind of felt like sinning, letting the kid up on the table like this. Hopefully, by the time he has to face Fast Eddie Felson, he'll be broken of that habit.


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