In the land of pools and cues at Tech Rec

Photo by Tyler Meuter

I have been waiting in Tech Rec for what seems like ages, even though it must have only been a few days. When you are being ignored, surrounded by fifteen of your closest spherical friends, a single minute can last an eon, especially when all I desire is the thrill of the shot as I bound across the green felt.

It was a long, torturous wait, but today is Aug. 17, the first day of the semester, the day students come flooding in for two glorious hours of free pool. A few come in early, before the event starts, as eager as I to get started.

They begin to play on other tables, and other sets are chosen for them. Eventually, my plastic rack is selected, and we are given a table. However, no one is here yet to play on our table. The sixteen of us can all hear the staccato clacking of the others at adjacent tables enjoying themselves.

The new felt of the table is soft under me, and my friends are less impatient to play now that we are out of the hard plastic rack. A little before four in the afternoon, Tech students begin to trickle in to Tech Rec, exploring the new layout and tables.

Each has come for the first event of the semester, Billiards Break In (ha, I get it!). Unfortunately few are immediately interested in playing, for there are tables set up at the entrance to the pool hall with vanilla and chocolate cake, towel giveaways (emblazoned with Tech Rec’s slogan: Study Hard, Play Harder!), and a sign-up sheet.

Of course, my friends and I are less interesting than cake, what a world. The sign-up sheet is of interest to me, though, because one name will be selected from it to win a Billiards Frequent Player Card.

That lucky someone will then be able to visit my friends and I whenever they want for the rest of the semester; I hope it is someone with plenty of free time. Unfortunately, the winner will be notified through email, so I will not know the student until he or she deigns to come back and play.

After the novelty of free food has worn off, the visitors seem ready to play (hooray)! However, something very unusual has happened: there are far more people here than can play at once. The pairs who were already playing continue their games, but the newcomers attempt to accommodate the unbalanced ratio of players to tables by playing three players.

Cutthroat matches or by playing on teams so that four can play at once. Even so, there are numerous onlookers and many leave after cake since there are no more open tables (or perhaps because they have someplace to be or simply do not like billiards or even me).

Of course, this is all inconsequential to me now, for my table has players! It will not be much longer now. They proceed to rack up all of my friends. Someone has placed the triangle at the far side of the table. He is lining up his shot.

The wait is over!

I go racing across the felt to strike the triangle at top speed! We all go ricocheting across the expanse; it was truly a fine break. With that shot, the game has begun!

My friends and I play game after game, rushing across the tabletop into each other and into pockets. Sometimes, to the great dismay of whoever’s turn it was, even I go in a hole, but the others seem to really enjoy my downfall and getting to place me where they see fit.

At one point, a player managed to purposefully jump me over a few balls to get one of theirs into a pockets, but equally impressive were the times when players unintentionally jumped me or my friends. A particular incident happened when I was struck a bit harder than necessary and found myself flying through the air (Wheee!) and sailing straight over the table’s side to land on the floor.

I rolled away from that table, just to see how far into this uncharted and mystical land I could go, but another player scooped me up. I was quickly returned to the table and play resumed as though nothing had happened; games run smoother when people are here for some good fun rather than competition.

Eventually, the open house had to draw to a regrettable close; I would not mind playing forever. A few stay past the end of Billiards Break In (at six in the evening), but most scurry off to various unrelated destinations.

Hopefully, I will see them soon, but for now, I must return to my hard and uncomfortable plastic rack and to the insufferable waiting.