have recently taken up a high school activity with a friend from work. Once a week we will play a few rounds of pool, since both of us played pool back in high school. I particularly have no interests in sports, team or otherwise. I also enjoyed garage pad basketball and backyard football with guys who cared nothing about who won anything.
In high school there were two local places to play: a pool hall and a barbershop that had pool, a few arcade video games, and movie rentals. One of my best friends growing up had a full basement suite to himself into which a found Sears pool table got moved. We played in the garage for a while, but the basement had enough space and the plywood under the felt was already warped enough. A guy we knew from the bass section of choir had a full-size slate table at home that would never make it down the stairs or fit the space in which that cheap Sears table resided.
Another good friend from this time, someone who helped me out in math class, was an excellent player and the school’s best math student. He said he could put trigonometry on the table and win the game. Over a winter at our school – which had both a cheap pool table and a ping-pong table – my math friend actually won a noon-hour tournament with a broken hockey stick.
I know these things in recent times have been overtaken by the enormous world of video games, which can now command a world of personal memories. At the barbershop I could have played Centipede or Pac-Man. I would not bother with either. I think I might have spent a single quarter on an arcade game back then. Today I will ask my son or nephew the usual question about what they’re reading and the answer is usually that they’re too busy with video games. Knocking balls around a table talking over drinks, that’s some old-school stuff – older than Pac-Man, and that’s pretty old now.
Finding a friend who wants to play pool has brought back memories and things have changed, like my adult son who plays Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda. It’s too bad, because he grew up tall and would be able to make the angle to get some good shots in.
Reinhardt lives in Boyle Street with his wife, Keri Breckenridge.