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Saturday, May. 11, 2002
I'm having one of those peculiar mornings where rambling about anything and everything seems perfectly appropriate. So, if nobody minds, that's exactly what I'll do.

It's sort of like what I'm eating at 7 am. Warmed up pizza from the goodly Italian joint. I don't know what it is about warmed up pizza that gives me such comfort. Especially as a breakfast food. Pizza is meant to be eaten at night, after an event, with many carbonated beverages and as part of a large happy group of revelers. Possibly it's just another of the myriad of minor daily rebellions that give me so much joy. Besides, it's so totally nourishing.

Speaking of food groups, how do you classify steamed oysters? Dinner, appetizer, snack, or somewhere in between? Maybe they could move up to a full entrée when consumed in the quantities that are planned for this afternoon at yet another Oyster Roast at Stu's.

Yes, again. Good grief, it's been over a month. You'd think we had forgotten how to do it or something. Perish the thought. Stu got the pool uncovered and cleaned up and he deep-tilled the horseshoe pits. So I guess we're ready. You know we're ready when the pre-emptive discussions about Oyster Roasts include something about "How fast are the horseshoe pits this year?", or "I sure hope you lay in enough oysters, last time we damn near ran out and you know how ugly that could be."

The odds are running fairly high that a large percentage of freeloaders will attend. There's something about that firepit and the clank of a horseshoe that just drives people mad. They cannot stay away, they arrive and eat oysters and pour chilled libations down their throats until sated. Which can take quite a while, I'm sure you'll agree.

Chief Mo will be there, I'm quite certain. Not that I'm lumping him with the freeloader crowd or anything. He has the wonderful charm that only a bald Navy Chief who used to be a SEAL can emit, and he is often found at these events. Taking special delight in the oysters and hush puppies. Generally, after an hour of plowing through a mound of food, he is heard to growl "This is awful, God this is the most horrible stuff I've ever eaten," as he snares another handsized oyster and expertly pries open the shell.

I was over at Stu's last night, as a matter of fact. Prepping the scene, making sure that I'd not forgotten how to make fire and other necessary details. Sitting with my feet propped up on the brick firepit and toasting my shoes and enjoying the night air. Thinking and wishing and being drowsy all at the same time. Listening to Shawn Colvin on the radio. Wishing all of you could be there. No, I'm serious. I wish everyone could experience the drug that is Stu's backyard on an evening in May. I'm expansively open armed in that way. Unless you turn out to be a freeloader.

I think the only thing he is really missing, the thing which would make it complete, is a pool table. He wants one, has lusted after one for years but just never seems to find the right buy or the perfect frame or something. We happened to be at the Watering Hole yesterday, one of those 'Let's stop in for one beer' occasions that turns out to be a 4 hour marathon of pool and laughing and general mayhem. The wives showed up in short order, upon hearing of our whereabouts, and challenged us to a game. Eight ball, of course. Guys against the girls.

Stu and his wife happen to be very good pool players, while Ally and I are most assuredly not. We're getting better, but it's a slow process. Usually, pairing up with Stu means that he'll spend a lot of time having to attempt impossible shots after I leave him nothing to shoot at, although he gets a lot of amusement out of watching me flail away haplessly with a stick.

Yesterday, however, I was hot as a pistol. Cutting in balls, leaving him perfectly setup for the next shot, we mowed down the women and left them gasping in our wake. 3 straight games. We couldn't miss, we ruled the table. Another couple came over to challenge us and we whipped them too. A crowd formed, cheering our every move. They plied us with free beer and it only made us shoot better. It was incredible. The best shooters in the bar paired up and we left them with 4 balls on the table. The noise level increased. The beer was flowing and Stu was knocking in shots that he had no chance on, and I was steadily holding up my end of the deal.

The wives were getting a little tired and hollered at us to finish up so we took on the last pair of shooters in a 'Partners Championship of the World' match. I'd lost count of the beers consumed by that time (probably a good thing, because it would have shocked me, I'm sure) and was about one step short of a coma. But there was this buoyant feeling that I'd never had playing pool, and we got down to it. Our opponents were good, they were very good. It was becoming very serious. We played evenly and had 2 balls left on the table when it came up my turn. A relatively easy bank shot. Stu held his breath and then groaned as I missed, leaving a shot for our opponents that would set them up for victory. His disappointment was clear, but managed to be magnimonious and allowed "Well, I guess it was inevitable. I've never seen you shoot like that before, what the hell got into you?"

And the opponents sniggered and slapped five and prepared to do us in. So I stood on one leg and began to slowly flap my arms like some deranged stork on a bender.

Stu began to look concerned at the state of my mental health and hissed, "What the hell are you doing?"

"Putting the hex on Fred and Mary", I replied.

Sure enough, Fred whiffed a shot that he'd been making all-night and howled with agony. Stu pranced up, revived, and sank the last remaining regular shot, leaving me to sink the eight ball. It was a long cross table affair, the kind that I hate (and rarely make) for some reason. The crowd yelled and whistled as I approached in a knee knocking, wavering sort of way. Stu pumped his fist in encouragement and said, "You could make this shot with your eyes closed, with your eyes closed, I say!"

So I did. Seemed like a perfectly natural thing to do. Close your eyes and sink a cross table eight ball. With backspin.

The crowd roared and the wives were kissing me on the cheek and hugging me in turns. I looked at Stu and in a whispered voice asked, "Did we win? Did I make it?"

"You sure did lad! What a maniac! What a shot! Here, have another beer!"

And I don't remember much of anything after that.

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