What Happened To All Those 8-Balls In The Bars?

Magic8ball-300x300Sometimes, I get an idea for a post that I am positive I shouldn’t write.  This is definitely one of those.

A friend of mine was in town and she called me at work and said we should get together for a drink and catch up on each other’s lives.  I had no plans, so I agreed to meet her after work.  We went for an early dinner at a local bar and restaurant.  We had a pizza, talked, and watch a couple guys shoot pool.  No big deal.  

Watching those guys shoot pool made me think of my obsession with the 8-ball.

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college, I was in a bar near closing time.  I put my money in the pool table coin slot, pressed the lever in, and waited for the 15 pool balls to release from the machine.  Unfortunately, only 14 balls were dispensed.  I went over to the bartender asking for a refund.  He informed me that there was no refunds on the pool table.  Besides he informed me it was closing time. I was a little agitated, but nothing to get worked up about.

Since I was a little tipsy, and wasn’t used to being taken advantage of,  I was determined to get my money’s worth.  On my way out of the bar, I picked the 8-ball from the tray, put it in my pocket, and left the bar.  Little did I know that, over the next three and a half years, I would acquire many more of these. 

I’m not sure what possessed me to take it.  Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was just the thrill of taking something that didn’t belong to me, or maybe it was just because I always did the right things.

From that night forward, before exiting a bar, I would palm the 8-ball from the pool table.  I would just slip it in the big pocket on the front of my hooded sweatshirt and walk out.  I never took any other pool ball, only the 8-ball.

To me, I thought it was just a harmless prank.  But, the bars didn’t.  They would post nasty messages about someone stealingpool table the black pool ball.  Some bars started asking for a $10 deposit.  Eventually, I noticed that bars were spray painting the cue ball or a different numbered ball because there was an 8-ball shortage in town.  

There was only one bar that I never stole the 8-ball from.

My roommate and I would go into this gay bar on Friday mornings to play pool.  It was the only place that pool was still a quarter.  I used to joke that the only things straight in that bar were the two of us and the pool cues.  

Every other bar in town that I went into, I took the 8-ball.

A month into my crime spree, there was an article in the town’s newspaper about the recent thefts  of the 8-balls at the bars.  The police were under the impression that these pool balls were being stolen from the bars and sold as stick shift tops for hot rods.  They had no explanation for why only the 8-ball was being stolen from pool tables, though.  

I think after I acquired 25 of them, my college roommate caught on.  He saw them sitting in my closet.   I’m not sure he ever told anyone and we never discussed it.  I can still see that “cat that swallowed the canary smile.”

First, it was a couple of 8-balls in my drawer at school.  Then it became a shoe box.  Eventually, I would take them home every so often and stack them neatly in one of my ski boots boxes.  The ski boot box could easily hold approximately 147 of these.  In less than six months, that box was filled up.  When one box filled up, I just got a bigger box.

When I would go on road trips, I would continue to grab the 8-balls off of tables.

Where did this all end?  I can tell you that during those 3-1/2 years, I stole the 8-ball from bars as far west as San Francisco, California.  As far south as Houston, Texas.  As far east as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As far north as Superior, Wisconsin.

In all that time, I never even came close to getting caught.  The last 8-ball I ever stole was in Beaver Creek, Colorado in February, 1983.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen all was said and done, I could fill a clothes washer box with 8-balls.  I would estimate there were at least 1,000 8-balls pilfered.  It took me four trips to the dump in my truck to get rid of these. I was so paranoid that I watched the dump to find out when and where they picked up the garbage and buried it.  I marked the boxes by writing “Do not open dead animals  enclosed” or something equally disgusting written on the outside of the boxes.  Again, I was lucky that No one ever looked inside.

The really crazy thing is I know why I stole the first pool ball.  After that first one, I haven’t a clue why I kept taking them.  I never had an inclination to take another pool ball, since.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

See what fascinating and historical events happened on August 29.

 

 

 

 


Posted in Personal Posts

What Is Your Dream?

moneyI believe that everyone has dreams. Some have dreams that consume them. Some have dreams that are just that – not real. If you put a time limit to a dream, then you have a goal.

There are times that I ask myself; “What is my dream?” Honestly, I don’t have any concrete dreams of my own. Sure, there are things that I’d like to have, things that I’d like to know, people that I’d like to meet, but nothing, right now, consumes me.

If I were forced to have a dream, it would be for a friend of mine to win the lottery. I know she plays the lottery and dreams of winning it. If I were to win it, I’m not sure that it would really be “a dream come true.” I think it might be more problems that I’d rather not have right now. She’s much more forceful and could handle the sudden influx of riches better than I could. I’m not sure it would change her, just make her more generous with her family. She’s already way beyond generous with her nieces and nephews as it is. The floodgates would open for her family.

Besides, I actually don’t mind not having baskets of money. It gives me something to get up in the morning and strive for.

I remember saying to my dad that it must be nice to be able to afford anything he wants. He is always paying cash for everything he buys. I remember how cool I thought it was that he could go buy cars and houses with a check. He explained to me that money is important until it isn’t anymore. He’s generous, but careful with his money.

Maybe, my dream would be for my dad to live out his remaining years in peace and find the happiness he deserves. That would be something that would really be nice for him.smile

Right now, I don’t have a dream of my own other than just to wake up with a smile on my face. That dream comes true almost everyday, anyway.

 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

See what fascinating and historical events happened on August 28.

 


Posted in Personal Posts

Trying To Count The Stars In The Sky

I’ve always been fascinated on how people can come in and out of my life.

When I was in grade school, I thought the kids I hung out with would be my friends forever. I saw the kids in the neighborhood everyday! In the summer, I’d grab my baseball mitt and head over to the baseball diamond. I was almost positive that there would be some sort of game going on that I could get involved in. These were my buddies, my friends, and my life-long companions. They’d always be there.

Alas, time passed, we moved from the neighborhood and that chapter closed. Forever. I never saw any of those friends, again. Like everything, time presses forward.

When I entered middle school and high school, I made new friends. Not better friends, just newer friends. We spent out pre-teenage and teenage years together. As a group, we graduated together, dated together, got our driver’s license around the same time, had our first dating experiences close together, got drunk, and got into trouble with one another. We bonded and we knew each other’s families and spent time just being teenagers. Then high school ended, we got jobs, went to work, and we were nothing more than familiar strangers.

During my college years, there were a few people from my high school and others that I had met over the years that became my core friends. Since we all lived in different dormitories, we began bonding with those around us. It got to the point that the only time we saw each other was in class or at the bars on Friday and Saturday nights. My college friends were probably the best people I have ever met. Each one was intelligent, confident, and a lot of fun to be around. I figured we’d always be close.
After standing up in each other’s weddings, seeing their kids, we all seemed to go our own, separate, ways. I can even remember two of my friends trying to put together some sort of reunion for the group. Unfortunately, that fell through.

I think back on the people that I worked with. We spent five days out of every week together for years. We knew each other’s kids, spouses, went out for drinks after work, went to baseball games, fought, celebrated holidays, etc. Now, it’s a quick greeting in the hallway. We’ve all got other places to be.

The parents that raised us and we saw every day during our growing up years have left this earth. Grandparents that raised our parents have their names on tombstones now. Some friends have passed away much too soon.

All those people and plans that seemed so important back then, would hardly garner a second thought, today.

The Beatles, in their song “In My Life” got it right when they sang:

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

See what fascinating and historical events happened on August 27.


Posted in Personal Posts