Sour Grapes Make Cheap Wine

Either because of my G-money writing skills OOOOOR because there’s a serious deficiency of available writers and I simply was the chosen sour grape amongst the bad harvest – I’ve been asked to write a column for a couple websites – I do not know how I will squeeze this in or how long I can maintain it, but my best shot cometh …

I fear with all the extracurricular activities I continue to try and take on, I might find I do everything halfway before I move to my next tasks.

– so if you find that only the left side of my hair is curled, my shoes don’t match, I have only one earring on and my dog’s still in the bathtub half washed … well you’ll know why —

Websites:

Go4Pool <- Click Me!

NYC Grind <- Click Me!


My first article:

gail w logo Behind every great man, is a great woman. Right?

In pool, relationships are pretty scarce. A pool player’s life is backwards compared to most as work is often from 6pm to close Monday through Friday and on weekends for tournaments. Unless the significant other is also a touring player, date night, walks in the park, weekend vacations, & snuggle time before bed are often replaced with road trips to tournaments, rack by rack accounts, action reports and live streaming.

With modest glory or monetary reward to counteract the difficult schedule, how is a pool player supposed to hold up his end of the bargain? Unless, of course, you’re a professional pool player.

Actually, that’s not a guarantee either.

Thus, many pool players I see don’t have significant others. Their love of the game keeps them warm at night. Pool is enormously time consuming and seldom offers any kind of financial security. Unless a player finds an alternative way to make a living, a pool player lives his life tournament paycheck by hustling paycheck and this instability is often not what women look for in a man.

The relationships I do see in pool involve unique women. If a player is lucky enough to find a pool playing mate, the heavenly skies open up and light shines in on the perfect opportunity to have it all, for love of the game and for love of the girl playing the game. A female pool player with a rockstar-pool-playing-boyfriend knows there is nothing sexier than her man running out racks, strutting around the table and dominating his opponent. Often women are attracted to a man who is successful and powerful and if a girl knows the game, she’s knows what kind of skill it takes to string racks together and grind out a win. This is incredibly attractive to mutual pool players.

A couple I’m good friends with recently played in a tournament and both went home undefeated after day one. The female, as she watched her boyfriend get perfect on the final 9-ball to win the match, turned to me and said,

“Oh thank god, now we can have some good sex tonight.”

As exuberant the player who wins a match or a tournament can be, the nose dive of a player’s good humor is blatantly obvious after a tough loss. I was speaking with another professional pool player’s girlfriend and when asked if she’d be going out that evening with us, her response,

“I don’t dare ask him now if he wants to go out. He missed the 4-ball hill/hill and if I ask now, it’ll surely be a No. I’ll let you know if his mood gets better.”

The game never escapes you, or better yet, you can never escape the game. It lingers in your daily thoughts and rarely releases its grip. Couples that find their way to the chapel and live in marital bliss, with the white picket fence and the litters of kids, still lurk in the background of the AZBilliards forums, still subscribe to Inside Pool and Billiards Digest, and still keep in touch with their old buddies from back in their pool playing heydays, reminiscing about “that one time when it was hill/hill and ……”

Pool is an addiction, and last I checked, PPA (Pool Players Anonymous) still has yet to make it’s way to our local YMCA centers.

It’s this obsessive relationship with the game that often leaves a player riding solo most of their lives. Your typical woman doesn’t want to play second fiddle to much, let alone a game. And most significant others like attention and enjoy doing activities together and want a lifestyle that involves the two of them being a couple. Many pool players can’t handle this double life. The balancing of the girl and the game is like juggling flames and most of the time, the girl gets burned and leaves.

But what about the female professional pool players? I haven’t even touched on if the pool player is a woman, how this affects her non-playing boyfriend. Some men simply cannot handle their women being in a pool hall with men drooling over them. Even in this day and age, women are not the regular players. But if a girl does come out to play and can shoot well, she will undoubtedly have a crowd of men around watching her every move, stance, bend and stroke. This “involved” attention often makes insecurity kick in and the green-eyed monster rears his ugly head in a man. Then the test of the relationship ensues and either she quits or insists, “If you don’t trust me, you can leave!”

And once again, a choice must be made.

Perhaps, men can also get needy and resentful about sharing their alone time with the game. Maybe women aren’t the only sex that can be clingy.

Or maybe women just handle the balancing act better.

jenA couple of women in our pool hall actually do not have a pool playing significant other and still play extremely competitive pool. Both very strong players, WPBA tour pros even, dedicated to the sport. Jennifer Barretta is married and recently had her son Max and while she took a break to focus on her family the first year of Max’s life, she’s back in competition doing her best to juggle her family and the sport she loves.

In an interview by InGameNow.com, Jen discussed balancing family with pool.

InGameNow.com: “You were on the fast track in billiards, and then son Max came along. You haven’t been on myspace in 6 months, your personal web site has not been updated in a year. Admit it, you shouldn’t be in a World’s Hottest Athlete contest, you should be in a World’s Happiest Mom contest.

Jen:That couldn’t be more true! Before Max, pool meant the world to me. I still love the game, and I miss playing every day, but Max will only be this little once and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.”

Conceivably for women, it’s a little different. Maternal instinct naturally streams through the veins of most women and Jen being the amazing mom that she is knows that her child comes first, her family, then the game. It’s no easy task, but Jen has found a way to manage the responsibility of mom and pro.

lizLiz Ford is also happily married and clearly has a husband who is all for her devotion to the game. She’s a touring pro on the WPBA and a force to be reckoned with in the regional tours in the northeast. On her blog recently, she posted,

“Seeking balance, I took a long vacation from pool in November and December to enjoy the other parts of my life. A happy pool player is a good pool player: Not the other way around. In fact, leading a happy and balanced life is my number one goal for 2009. I know that my game, like everything else, will be better for it.”

–Liz Ford Blog  <- CLICK ME!

Balance.

Perhaps this is the key to it all. Unfortunately the game seldom likes to share. Take time off and you will find your touring card has expired, you are deemed washed up & the young guns of the game don’t fear you or respect the time you put into the game while they were taking 8th grade Algebra.

Your mechanics are still there, but your muscles ache by the 4th hour of practice, your break is just not finding center ball and playing offensively rather than strategically is the only way you think you’ll get back in stroke.

Thus few players take this chance, and instead relentlessly grind it out week after week in hopes that one day glory will find them and make all the lonely nights worthwhile.

And then, there are those players that just seem to have it all. The game and the girl. They have found a way to balance the two and achieve Zen. While some girlfriends play cheerleader when their man is playing, others are keeping active notes, some are competing themselves and the couple compare the racks of each other’s game.  And some don’t come at all, by their own choice or their partner’s.

celine kiss On assignment in 2004, Celine Novenario had to interview Mika Immonen for an article she would write for the Philippine magazine she worked for.

“I can remember thinking, if I smile hard enough, maybe he won’t notice that I don’t know a thing about pool.”

Whether Celine’s smile won him over or her incredibly blind interviewing skills, Mika was impressed enough to ask her out and years later, you’ll find her by his side at major championships supporting the Iceman.

“All the traveling is tough, so when we have time together; we try to make the most of it. But it gives me my free time to have my own life too which is nice. And it’s hard to deny that dating someone who’s like top 10 in the world at something doesn’t make you go, “WOW!” Only a couple months after we started dating, Mika was playing in a tournament and I was finally starting to understand the game and realized, “Oh my god, Mika you’re really good.”

Mika’s response, “We’ve been dating for a while and you’re just now realizing that?”

Celine said she found the pool world a tad rough in the beginning, but it’s the friendships she’s developed throughout the years that have made her lack of pool playing skills irrelevant. Perhaps the greatest solace for a pool player’s life is the friendships that can grow. These relationships are maintainable and help ease the loneliness of life on the road.

trTony Robles and I have been together for over two years, and we seem to have found a comfortable balance between his professional career in pool, my professional career in corporate America & our mutual love of the sport.

But there have been many a Sunday nights, after a 2-day tournament, as we drive home at midnight that I wonder, how long can we sustain these extreme conditions?

I’m fortunate that Tony built a career within the pool community through lessons & the Predator 9-ball Tour, so reliance on tournament winnings is not a requirement. I can’t imagine the pressure one must feel staring at a 9-ball and saying to themselves, “If I don’t make this ball, I won’t make the rent.” That kind of lifestyle is too volatile for my taste, as it was for Tony.

But for some, perhaps it’s that thrill of the unknown that keeps their interest peaked and the spark alive. But this excitement comes at a demanding price.

stressSweating your sweetheart’s match – a true test of anxiety.

For anyone who loves a pool player, and this is probably true of any athlete, the stress of watching them play is by far the most nerve-wracking experience of them all. Loving someone means internalizing their emotions as if they were your own. While the happiness that comes with success is fantastic, the devastation and frustration felt with failure is far more intense and daunting a feeling.

You know their inner thoughts, their insecurities.

You know their demons.

You know the terrible things they are saying to themselves the moment the ball hangs in the pocket and you yearn to run over and hug them and tell him to keep fighting, don’t give up, and to stay strong.

But you can’t.

And so you restlessly sit in your seat watching them suffer, and you feel utterly helpless. This is the emotional peril of being the pro player’s other half.

Just like any relationship, it’s give and take and as long as both parties don’t lean too much to one side of that scale, there’s a good chance for survival.

It seems some have found Zen and it doesn’t involve spending their whole life on a pool table. Just like in any job, if you don’t stop and ask yourself what you are working so hard for, it gets lost in translation.

If work is your whole life, you aren’t really alive.

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~ by g2 on April 21, 2009.

5 Responses to “Sour Grapes Make Cheap Wine”

  1. Great first effort Gail. Keep it going

    Gravy

  2. Well written!

  3. This is so dead on I can’t even comment on it. You took the words right out of my mouth and made them sound more beautifully then I ever could. Kudos to you Gail. I can’t wait to read what you write next. Finallly…someone who gets it lol.

  4. WOW! Great interpretation! Perfect! I look forward to your future writings!

  5. You hit it on the head Gail! lol… talk about flashbacks!

    Nice work!

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