I think that one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to shoot pool was because I immediately had a teacher in mind.

My friend Pat is such a character that if he didn’t exist someone would be inventing him. His formative years were spent at a Jesuit boy’s school, but then somehow — either by reading The Great Gatsby one too many times or having a really pivotal vacation — he spent a couple years in New Orleans as a pool shark, then just as suddenly packed it in and followed a couple friends to New York to start college. So conversations with Pat tend to be all over the map — one minute he’s talking about going to a voodoo temple with a bunch of frat guys who taught him how to say “show us your tits” in German, and the next minute he’s giving direct quotes from the work of St. Thomas Aquinas to justify a theological argument.

His response to my request for tutoring was typically quirky:

Alright. Pool requires a few things, and they’ll cost ya:

1. cigarettes (I quit, so we can dispense with them altogether if you don’t think you’ll need them to learn)
2. whiskey, American, in moderate quantities
3. enough change to rule the jukebox for a few hours (nobody should be able to shoot straight when crappy music is on. Some people can.
I don’t like those people.)
4. a hat. Baseball caps don’t count. I’m not sure why this is so, but they all wear them in the Hustler, so I’m not gonna argue.
5. a femme fatale. This would have to be someone other than you, cause she don’t play. Usually provided by the pool hall/gods.

I’m probably still going to suck at pool after even a couple lessons. But at the very least, this sounds like the making of a good evening out.

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