A “Pool” Place to Be

“Him: You want to break?

Me: Sure.

Me: Shit. Bad break.

Him: Yup.

Me: Nice shot.

Him: I know.

Him: Good run.

Me: Thank you.

Him: Don’t scratch.

Me: ‘Course not.

Me: Corner pocket.

Him: Screw you.

Me: Good game.

-Ballad of the college pool room.

Calling pool a sport is a stretch. It’s not physically demanding. In practice one must pick up a stick and proceed to smack balls around a green felt table. Big whoop. Why would anyone besides cue-stick whittlers and eight ball enthusiasts pay attention to a paltry excuse for a pastime? Well, we were bored. So, we checked out the sticks and balls from the front desk and… scratched our way through our first ever game of pool. How did an afterthought on our first day of college become the almost daily ritual that we know so well? Well, I think the reason stems less from the game of pool and more from the pool room itself.

You see, the pool room is not a place to play pool. It is a place to enjoy the company of your friends. Pool is the action, socializing is the reaction. We go there to play, yet we come back with outlandish stories and some very memorable and, partially ill-advised, adventures. No one escapes the allure of camaraderie that the pool room offers. The majority of my dorm floor has at one time or another experienced the the pool room. Some people like my neighbors Alex, Nate, Logan and Jacob experience the room passively. They are there to watch the game and be distracted. Others like my roommate Spencer, and floor mates Rod, Cameron, and Chad come to socialize and be an active part in our typically college themed conversations. And yet others, such as Mitch, Aaron, Ryan, Nick, Keegan, and Josh, come to play and compete for the illustrious title of winner. The atmosphere is contagious to all. It is all encompassing and all addicting.

The room itself is unimpressive at first glance. Its unimpressive at a second glance too. And a third and, well, you get the idea. Stationed in the center of the room lies the pool table. Like an old statue left to the elements it shows signs of wear, tear, and very little care. The moss-green felt is torn and scarred, a result of unruly and unpracticed players. Four of the six pockets are missing at least one screw and one pocket, having no screws, is known to fall out of the table if too many balls are sunk into it. The off-shade white score dials are stiff, incompliant, and demand extraordinary effort to move even one notch. The total area of the room is approximately the size of two and a half of our very snug dorm rooms. Three of the ten lights work which allows for a dusky atmosphere, especially at night. A once cherry-red bar styled counter rests forlornly against the south wall accompanied by four very squeaky bar stools. The ceiling is peppered with cue-stick shaped dents so much so that calling it pockmarked doesn’t quite cut it. The pool room has two vending machines that drone constantly. The room has one regular window with a partial view of the water. It has a stairway to the basement so you can hear everyone who is doing laundry. The area overall is rather unkempt. Four drab dark blue carpet sofa seats are splayed around the short end of the table. Any firmness they once possessed has long departed as sitting in one will result in your lower half being swallowed by the scratchy blue maw.

I love this room.

Obviously the pool rooms decor isn’t top notch. But as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. For its the experiences, the adventures, the memories made in the pool room that makes me so fond of it. The pool room has hosted many great events. The pool tournament, our first floor event where we both bonded and competed with our then new neighbors. Memory. We painted a floor flag emblazoned with our ingenious floor motto, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Memory. Shamefully participating in an extremely stressful game of strip pool. Memory (I wish I could forget). However, my favorite memory is not of a specific event. It’s a collective memory. A summary of my time there. It goes like this. It’s cloudy outside. A gentle, cool breeze floats through the cracked window. An iPod sits on the bar counter playing music that is not to loud to drown out conversation, yet not to soft to be unheard. Aaron, Mitch, Nick, and Ryan stand around the table, cue-sticks in hand, plotting their next moves. Alex will be casually sprawled on the couch making music on his laptop. Spencer will be peering over his shoulder. Chad will be leaning against the north wall texting his girlfriend. Nate will be sitting on the floor tuning his acoustic guitar. Logan will be sitting on the couch, alternating between Facebook and moderate interest in the game. The steady drone of the vending machines adds a familiar undertone to the social din. Rod,Cameron and Jacob will be standing next to each other, commenting on the difficulty of the next shot. The constant pinging of Josh and Keegan’s cutthroat ping pong game in the basement permeates the room. The two large doors leading to the first floor stand open, inviting anyone and everyone. And I sit on my squeaky bar stool in the corner, taking in the moment. Memory.