Polly may jump into your lap while you’re sitting on the couch, but she’ll scram if you try to pick her up. And there’s a reason for that. She was once kidnapped, along with her mother, and held for ransom. Her mother was never found.
Our first night here, we didn’t go out. I entered into a pool tournament with Callum and Marco at our hostel for a small pot and a bottle of rum. Marco turned out to be the only person in the tournament that gave me a run for my money, but this isn’t what this story is about.
When I was playing Marco, a couple of Aussies decided it was their privilege to interrupt the game by sitting on the table and posing for a picture with the “Jameson” logo painted on the wall behind the table. I know I was probably more upset about this than I should have been, but I am extremely competitive, and it’s very easy to wait until after the game for you to take your picture because you “really love Jameson.”
After noticing that I was a little ticked, the girlfriend decided to come and put me in my place. Before I go on, you need to realize that I’m 2 beers and 2 shots in. Whatever this girl has to say to me is about to get disassembled like an angry 2 year old next to a jenga tower.
“Are you upset?”
“A little. That was kind of rude to interrupt our game.”
She gets this cheeky grin. She was pretty, so I guess she’s used to getting away with being a bitch. I don’t know exactly what she’s going to say, but I know she probably thinks it’s “well thought out” and “quite a witty remark”.
“Well, baby. You’re in a hostel. We’re in close quarters and you just need to learn to deal with it.”
“So, if I’m in a hostel, I can omit my patience and be rude to people? They could have easily waited until we were done. Jameson is literally painted on the wall. It’s not going anywhere. You’re wrong and shut up.” She did.
When I got to the finals, I played the guy who’s friends interrupted the game with Marco to take their picture on the pool table. He had a conversation with the rude girl before we started the game. There was obvious tension in the air, and he might be the biggest asshole I have ever played in a game of pool. After I asked Marco to get his friend away from the table because he was interrupting me while shooting, my opponent (we’ll call him Man-Purse, because he had one to match his man bun) decided to try and verbally interrupt me while I would take my shots.
About the third time I shot and he interrupted me, I had to say something. I brought him to the side.
Calmly, I said, “I know what you’re doing, and I would really appreciate it if you would stop.”
“What are you talking about, mate?” he responded with a cheeky poopoo-chomping grin.
“You’re trying to talk to me right before I take every shot.”
“I don’t know what you’re tal-”
“Yes you do.”
He laughed it off in my face.
“Look. If there is money on the line of a pool game, I treat it like a gentleman’s game. I give you the respect of staying quiet and free of detractions while you shoot. It’s a respect thing. What you’re doing is rude and childish. I’m above that. Are you telling me that you are below that?” as I gestured different levels with my hand.
The insults began to fly in my direction a lot more after that conversation. I kept my mouth shut for a while, but I noticed something. The more I fumed, the better my shooting was. I was now shooting with a chip on my shoulder. When he called me a pussy, I decided to start playing his game. It worked a little, but I didn’t do it every time he lined up to shoot.
I won the first game, with him leaving a ball on the table.
He racked the balls again like a smart-ass. The only ball with correct placement was the 8-ball.
By this time, a couple of people have told me they really need me to beat this guy to shut him up. A small crowd of 4 or 5 has made their way to the pool table to watch the drama unfold.
I broke and didn’t sink a ball. His shot. He pocketed one ball to decide that he is solids. After a miss, I found a bit of a groove.
We traded blows like a couple of prize-fighting amateur boxers, but it only lasted for a bit. I lined up behind the cue ball. The cue stick became an extension of my body. The rear thickness of the cue was welded into my hand despite my chosen handicap of the short stick. The mid section pressed against my ribs while the front half grazed my chin. My left hand formed a bridge for the tip to rest on softly but firmly. It formed a perfectly straight trajectory that my eyes could not mistake.
Man-Purse continued with his verbal mind games that got worse and worse, which did nothing but fuel my fire. I started to dismantle the Aussie like a childhood Erector Set. Deliberately. Decisively. This was my game. I dropped 3 balls with authority.
Then the game changed a bit. When he was backed into the ropes, his immature banter gave way to a bit of silence. I missed the 4th. Boom. Man-Purse sinks one. Boom. Another one.
“GABRIEEEEEELLLLLLL,” he antagonized in his light Australian accent just as he did every time he sank a ball during the first game. A third ball falls into a pocket. The clack of it hitting a previously sunk ball echoed with a sourness that made half of the now larger crowd gag. “GABRIEEEEEELLLLLLL,” he beckoned again, laughing like a drunken adolescent. He became overconfident. He missed.
I get to the 8-ball. All I have to do is call my pocket and sink it. I missed. He has 3 balls left. He scratches. Controversy ensues.
The rules here differ from the US. I wont explain all of them, but I’ll cover one. If your opponent fouls, you get 2 shots. If you sink a ball on your first retort from being given 2 shots off of a foul, your second shot doesn’t carry over.
He argued that I only get one shot on the 8 because it’s the last ball. We referred to the manager to squash this disagreement, and I got my second shot (pssst- that means I was right ;) ). I missed again because of the amount of real-estate between the cue ball, the 8-ball, and the uneven table. But, I did put the ball into a good position.
He had 2 balls remaining between him and his first attempt on the black ball. Seconds felt like minutes. He lined up behind the cue with the cockiness of Floyd Mayweather stepping into a battered women’s shelter. But that would not equate to skill. He missed.
I knew that the cue ball would remain on the south end of the table while he shot at his solids, which is exactly why I moved the 8-ball to the north end on my previous shot. I had put it just off center of the corner pocket, but well within my range of confidence if he misjudged his shot speed. He did just that.
Marco gave me a few words of encouragement as Man-purse fired some low blows. “I cunt understand your English mate. You talk funny,” I heard him say.
“Hey, don’t let him get to you”, said Marco. “He’s only trying to piss you off. You’ve got this. Sink it and let’s drink some fucking rum.”
“Nah, homie. I realize that I shoot way better when she has me steaming mad,” I said just loud enough for Man-Purse to hear. I lined up with my non-traditional low profile form after calling my pocket. Man-Purse opened his mouth one last time with an insult that fell on deaf ears (Sorry Callum, I’m not talking about you). I made contact right in the middle of Man-Purse’s scorn. Eight ball, corner pocket. Game. Set. Match.
The guy that really wanted me to win (Justin) was as excited as I was. He grabbed the bucket of Vietnamese Dong (their currency) and dumped it on my head.
I got the money and we got the rum, despite his best efforts and exposing his lack of self-respect. I won.
USA – 1, AUS – 0 (Aussies are still some of my favorite people in the world even though this guy was a crappy ambassador of other backpackers from his country).
Due to his lack of sportsmanship, I chose not to shake his hand unless he apologized for his insults. He never apologized, so I never shook his hand. There was no need for the things he said. We weren’t trying to sell tickets to a fight, and the pot was a whopping $8. He could go fuck himself while we reveled in our cheap rum which turned out to be absolutely delicious. I know it was cheap, but I have never in my life tasted rum with that flavor. Or maybe, it was just a little sweeter because the asshole lost.
Now, on to Hoi An. If you have saved money by not buying things in Vietnam up to this point, and you plan on continuing that trend, just don’t go to Hoi An. This city has some of the most recognized tailors and leatherworkers in the world. And it’s “cheap.” I say “cheap” because it’s relative. The cost is much cheaper than the cost it would be at home, but you’re still looking at dropping over $200 on a suit. But, it’s tailored to fit perfectly and they save your measurements for 5 years!