Friday, July 1, 2016

Hustling The Pool Hustler

I don’t have the best pool game in town. Patrick ‘OPP’ Oyulu, Taata Sira Kiwana and his cousin Samson Wambuzi, John Ejalu and Greg Petzer (below) can clean me to a 7-ball humiliation. But I still play for after all, it’s just a game. I don’t throw tantrums or seek to melee or hurl the cue across the table in defeat. I accept I got beaten, shake hands, lick the wounds and seek a cold TML solace at the bar.

In the late 90s, Half London in Kansanga used to be the place to hangout – not just for food, but to catch, watch Supersport and more importantly, to play pool. It was one of those nonchalant nights where nothing was happening and activity at the pool table was stale, so why not a game of pool as I waited.

Two games later and I am on. He broke. Nothing dropped. In the top left corner, I figured I could get the white through the gap and slither the red into the pocket. I did just that and it dropped – enough for Opponent to concede I had pulled off a gem of shot by giving the table a slap and stomping the butt of the cue on the floor a couple of times. My second shot scattered the pack properly, that with a steady hand, there was no reason why I couldn’t take the game.

Two more reds dropped then I missed. At his second visit, Opponent fluffed what I would have deemed an easy shot that brought me back to play a flawless game – pulling off shots that are normally light years out of my league.

Second Opponent was dispatched with relative ease while Third Opponent put up a feeble resistance. Halfway into the fourth game, he sauntered in with more than a bravado of Jackie Chan about him, along with a personal cue in a black valise and flanked by Robust Woman in a pink sweat shirt and bottoms and interestingly enough, high heels to round off the ensemble. 

But who wears high heels with a sweat shirt and bottoms?

Going by the respect and the bonga’s (greetings) that Pool Attendant slavered on him, Personal Cue Player was Half London’s resident top dog pool player. He had to be because it was the late 90s and in the late 90s, pool was still in its infant stages in Uganda, plus the only other person I had seen with a personal cue and valise, was Taata Sira Kiwana (below).                

Personal Cue Player, talked and serenaded the table offering Fourth Opponent advice though not enough to save him from defeat. While Personal Cue Player was not next on the table, nobody complained.

I broke. His response? Telling Robust Woman how he was going to bounce the white ball off the lower cushion to give it enough momentum to roll past the black and kiss the red into the middle pocket. He did just that. And with every shot thereafter, he gave rambling commentary in Luganda and executed as he said he would. Then he bungled.

When I came back, I shouldn’t have slain him, but I did. And he should have waited in line for his next game but he threw tantrums of ‘how could he get beaten’. While I was done, he was having none of it. He wanted me back. Like the first game, the commentary continued - this time very forceful and laced with sarcastic undertones of how he was going to do the needful with vengeance. 

Except he didn’t do the needful. I did. Fans, Pool Attendant and Robust Woman were aghast. With that, he stormed out.

A Week later I was in Kaos (remember it on Kitante Road, opposite Golf Course Hotel)? While I had no intention of playing pool, I stood by the table to watch. As he took the shot, he looked up, saw me and in a flash he was next to me. In Luganda he said: “Mzee, what do you want with me, why can’t you leave me be?” Eh!?

Its only when I saw Robust Woman – still in her sweats plus high heels and Fans that I cottoned on. He was Personal Cue Player who I had humiliated in Half London weeks earlier. I let him be and shuffled to the bar with a running wild ego and a smirk of contempt - that whenever he saw me by a pool table, he would pee his pants, duly pack his cue into the black valise (below), grab Robust Woman and slither to another venue.

Like I said at the start, I am not a good pool player so when you see me at the tables, don’t come wanting to maliza (finish) me 7-ball style.

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