Thursday, November 6, 2008

Games People Play

Okay---I've always been some what of a game player--not board games-they kind of make me bored, but games of skill, luck, something you could bet on---Poker has always been fun for me, blackjack, foos ball, dice , (left right center is my absolute favorite-something about little kids banging on a table at holdiday time yelling lefty lefty lefty-) and good old pool.

My obsession with pool goes way back to when we were little kids, and Grandpa East Rockaway (don't know why, but OUR grandparents always assumed the identity of the town they lived in-Thank God they didn't move to the same neighborhood as the Grandparents Baldwin!!!) anyway, Grandpa (of the) East Rockaway Grandparents had this huge regulation then state of the art slate covered pool table installed in his otherwise cavernous but empty basement--(I'll never know how we played hide and seek down there- the only place to hide was behind the stairs---and we ALL hid there whenever WE weren't it!!!) Okay, I never DID say we WERE bright kids!

Any way, we would go over to Grandpa's house and play pool for hours on end, and on Sunday mornings, for some strange reason, I used to watch Fats Domino(?) play professional pool on t.v. with my Dad...I'll bet you didn't know that pool used to be a spectator sport! Yup. othing like the quiet that fell over a room as Fats managed to sink every ball on the table without ever touching the cue ball. As I got older, my skill and love for the game increased.

Eventually, we had our very own state of the art slate covered pool table in our own not so empty basement. Now we could play with our friends and cousins all the time. Of course, we were young , and easily bored, and some times we liked to put a different spin on the game that involved 16 hard balls, slate, and cushioned sides.....

Well, one day, one of us not so bright cousins developed the game of war, in which you would place your fingers over the cushioned side of the table, while another not so bright cousin would ram the balls trying to smash your fingers before you had the chance to pull them out of the way....At the same time, you would be trying to smash the unrpotected fingers of your cross table opponent---This had all the makings of any great sport....skill, determination, and an urge to hurt yourself doing something that otherwise seems foolish!

As you might imagine, someone was bound to get hurt...And you would be right...Someone would have broken fingers...Well not quite...Remember how I mentioned pool as a spectator sport? Well, we WERE professionals!!!! Of course we had an audience...And that audience of course had to be those cousins too young to actually play (not because we were ensuring their safety, but simply because they couldn't see above the table!)
Well, the under five crowd was cheering and the balls were being whipped back across the table in both directions at furious rates of reckless speed.
Little lesson in physics here---do you know what happens when two fairly weighted objects are propelled towards one another and meet with great impact? Well, I can attest that at least once, one of those objects will become a pop fly and land on the head of the littlest (and by far the favorite ) cousin.

Of course the sound of that cue ball smacking poor Jo's cute little head was punctuated by a one second delayed WWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Once, again, the thoughtful, ever mindful, concerned bunch of hoodlums that we were, we all ran right over to her, with hands over mouth to SHUT HER UP before the grown ups heard!!!
Have you ever tried to stifle a hysterical4 year old who now not only has a goose egg on her head, but is practically being smothered by her beloved siblings and cousins? Think Regan during her exorcism!!!!!

Needless to say, our new found game was NOT a big hit when the s..t hit the fan, and I pretty much remembered playing MY own trump card as the parents started screaming (after all, I, too, was one of the babies of the family...I was just a little taller, and therefore not sitting on the couch when the fireworks started, and shouldn't my parents be grateful that I also was not injured ? As near as I can remember, I (as usual) escaped unscathed, as opposed to my older siblings and cousins who SHOULD KNOW BETTER! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH THEM ANYWAY? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

Well, our war pool days came to some what of a halt after that, but that's okay...we soon found that you could ride Big Wheels (remember---Two huge plastic tires spun by hand levers with you plopped in the middle ---helmets? what were those?)--any way, wouldn't it be great to ride those bad boys down our front driveway that just happens to end at a 90 degree angle to our closed (of course) underground garage door! Sounds dangerous??? Don't worry... we sent the little kids down first to test it out!!!!!

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