maybe we’re really like strangers passing one another on a moonless night

the weather lately has been unpredictable.  yesterday was unbearably hot, and today promises another descent into the furnace.  not much to do except to survive it, i guess.  so to my fellow californians, drink plenty of iced water, try to stay cool, and be safe.  if you drive, don’t be stingy and turn on your ac.  better that than a heat stroke.

this past weekend i was in dire need for nourishment, so i went with this delectable option.

that’s a bowl of beef noodle soup, or pho in the original language.  here in socal, pho is a staple of asian cuisine, along with other famous asian dishes like fried rice and sushi.  i’ll just say that the healing power of pho is phenomenal; it’s the perfect blend of spices, meat, soup, noodles, and veggies all in one bowl.  anthony bourdain loves this stuff.  people say that the ones in vietnam are wayyy better, but vietnam is like a few thousand miles away, and i like the local version just fine.  when i get the chance, i’ll sample the authentic pho.  until then, i’ll go with the ones i can find around the neighborhood.

before we begin, just want to briefly mention a chalk comparison.  a while ago i tried and reviewed the nir super professional chalk.  after comparing the nir to its sister product, the blue diamond chalk, i have concluded that the blue diamond works much better than its kin.  granted, the super pro is a good chalk, but the bd just sticks to the tip better, and doesn’t make a big mess.  plus, the bd chalk has a much finer grain than the super pro; the little dust that comes off the bd when you chalk looks almost mist like.  the dust from the super pro, in contrast, seems heavier and drops to the ground faster than the dust from bd.  so for me, i’ll stick with the blue diamonds because they are (to me) a better product.  my impression: master chalk/triangle chalk = average, nir super pro = good, blue diamond = better.  when i get enough change from my panhandling gig, i may pony up for that magical kamui crack powder chalk and give it a spin.  (my fellow bloggers ms. omgwtf and mr. frerking both reviewed the kamui chalk some time ago; check it out if you like.)  that is assuming i can find any in stock.  and now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

i previously wrote this post about something completely different.  after reading through it a number of times, i didn’t think the post said what i wanted to say.  so i decided to change the whole thing and do a little personal narrative.  after all, picking on myself is more instructive.

it’s hard to make friends at the pool hall.

i think that at the pool hall, it’s easy to make acquaintances.  if you have been going to a pool hall for some time, you will probably have a bunch of them, and that’s just the natural progression of frequenting any business.  at the pool hall, you’re likely to get to know the counter person, the regulars who play there, players you practice with, people you buy and sell pool equipments to and from, and hustlers and gamblers trying to make a game.  but for me, i can’t say that i have friends at the pool hall.  i think that at pool halls, there is a basic element of distrust, which create an atmosphere not friendship-inducing.

of course, i’m talking strictly about myself.  when i say friends, i’m referring to a specific definition of my own choosing.  simply put, it’s who i share with.  for example, when i have a great day, i don’t call acquaintances to celebrate; i don’t know these people well enough to have their phone numbers.  instead, i call up my friends for some good old revelry and grubs.  if i have had a terrible day, that too is reserved for my friends.  joy, pain, meals, drinks, company–in some ways, my friendship is defined through sharing.

at the pool hall though (and i suspect in many other areas of life), we have many different people with many different ideas of what a friendship should be.  some are content at the surface level: a shallow and loosely-defined type of friendship.  others view friendship as an ever-changing set of alliances due to switch any second depending on what is happening, or what is perceived to be happening.  and there are the loners who don’t feel the need to know anyone, except maybe a small handful of people.

looking back on my pool days, out of the hundreds of people i’ve met, i had made exactly one friend.  a shocking statistic to me, when i think about it.  so now you know my bias.

in a previous post i touched on the subject of “limited purpose venue”, or lpv.  the reason i look at pool halls as a limited purpose venue is because to me, there isn’t a lot to do at the pool hall except to play pool.  since i believe that i’m more likely to make acquaintances at a pool hall than friends, i focus on pool when i go.  i rarely eat at the pool hall.  sometimes i’ll buy a soft drink, but that’s about it as far as my tab goes.  for me, pool halls are a true lpv, because the social aspect is fleeting at best, the owner has put the disco plan on halt, and the steakhouse inside the pool hall is not forthcoming.  the only constant thing at a pool hall is pool.

when i see the people at the pool hall hanging out with one another, i can’t help but think certain questions.  do they share meals with one another?  do they share stories and jokes and private laments?  do they care about one another as i do with my friends?  am i just socially inept and thus incapable of making friends?  and most important of all, do i actually want to make friends with people at the pool hall?  i say the last statement without an ounce of snobbery.  i’m not looking down at the people at the pool hall; it’s simply a flat question i ask myself.  we all do it when we meet new people: do i want to be friends with that person?  so please don’t take it the wrong way.

the answer to my questions is that i don’t have an answer, just like i don’t have answers to most of life’s questions.  which is apropos, because pool is often a microcosm of life.  and since i don’t have answers to my questions, i will remain a poolriah, looking from outside in.

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10 comments on “maybe we’re really like strangers passing one another on a moonless night

  1. We’ve met a few people from the pool hall that we’ve become friends with. Four people to be exact, one of which I don’t really care for. Being selective is important when you step beyond the line of just being pool buddies to being friends. I tend to have a sixth sense when judging / evaluating people. I have only been wrong a couple of times. Hubby and I have a system that both of us need to agree with a specific person before they enter into our friend zone. My wall is really really high when I first meet someone, it is probably as tall and as wide as the Great Wall of China, but once you step into that friend zone, it’s immediately down. Since our table, we no longer go to pool halls, so I guess we don’t need to worry about making pool friends. 🙂

    • it’s good to trust your gut instincts. some people have it really strong.

      it’s funny that you say you guys don’t go to pool halls anymore. i actually know people who are the complete opposite: they have tables at home, but they have to go to the pool hall to play. kind of like a being on stage thing, since my fave pool hall has bleachers for spectators. every time you play, there’s always someone watching, an atmosphere you can’t replicate at home.

      • People who have tables go to pool hall usually to play other people and to boost one’s ego. But if you have a few pool player that are at your level or above, and who you can stand to play for 2 hours or more, then you’re all set. Hubby has a few people he plays regularly at our place, and playing time ranges from 2 hours to 7 hours. This way, no one needs to worry about racking up a tab for drinks and table time. A great table that is cleaned and well cared for plays an important part. Why pay a pool hall for table time when the tables are so sh~.

        • i’m glad you guys got a good table and have people to play with regularly. it certainly saves money in the long run. (and hopefully your guests will bring drinks and snacks in lieu of table time!)

          having said that, my fave pool hall is something to be experienced. with the way the tournament room is set up, it does feel like you’re performing in front of a crowd. that or maybe i’m just a pool dork who’s reading too much into it. well, if you ever visit hard times in socal you can assess it yourself. 🙂

  2. I have two categories of friends: those that play pool and those that don’t. They very rarely intersect and I find it’s better not to mix them — neither side really understands the other.

    I agree with Q&B that being selective is important when going from casual pool acquaintances to actual friends.

    • I agree with Q&B that being selective is important when going from casual pool acquaintances to actual friends.

      it’s probably true with anyone you meet, pool acquaintance or otherwise.

      as far as my friends go, since i don’t really have friends at the pool hall, i don’t really have the problem of mixing different kind of friends. my friends are my friends, it just comes down to what we do to entertain ourselves when we hang out. most of the time it’s just hanging out, eat, drink, and talk, but sometimes we’ll do different stuff. on rare occasions we actually play pool, but not for very long. going by myself, i’ll play for hours on end.

      having said that, i still wonder about the people at the pool hall. when i look at a known hustler, i often wonder if they can actually have friends at the pool hall, the nature of their “business” dictates deceit and betrayal almost as default personal characteristics. or regulars who go to the pool hall because they don’t have anywhere else to go, either by accident or by design. do they care about each other as actual friends, or is it one of those proximity things where you get to know one another simply because you’re physically close on an almost-daily basis? i will say that if you enjoy people watching, a pool hall offers interesting viewing opportunities.

      • Pool is like any other group subculture. You could compare it to most workplaces, school, summer camp, and on the largest level, life itself. There are some people you become friends with, some you know by name only, some you know by face only, some you are indifferent to, and some you wish would find another place of employment, education, summer camp, or planet/dimension.

        Pool halls are good for people-watching? I would never have guessed. Just like your description of a pool hall as a “limited-purpose venue”, I am a “limited-purpose pool player”, and I generally go to a pool hall for pool.

        • i should clarify and say it’s good for people-watching after you play. pool halls are sometimes occupied by bat-s~* crazies, & if you don’t want to go home just yet after a five-hour practice, watching the pool creatures in their natural habitat can prove entertaining.

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