D I A R Y
of a

P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.




Friday, April 05, 2013

21 Better Than Worst: A true short story about Life, Death, Pool, Girls, and Cars


I recently found this 3 year old facebook post and because it was all about pool, life, death, girls and cars, so I figured that readers of this blog would find at least one thing of interest in it:

I am writing my will.

It has been 17 years since my last will was written,
and duly recorded according to the laws of our land,
so that my heirs are properly protected,
and my stuff is disposed of as I direct,
and the party is pre-paid.

In a way, this will is a summation of my life,
so far, that is,
for I hope there will be, at a bare minimum, many more good years of it,
as I am in no hurry to end it,
nor do I know of any condition which would hurry it.

I feel fine,
but I'm dealing with the paperwork of my will
which has expired in some regards years ago,
and I have been delinquent in keeping it current,
(I'm not a fan of paperwork)
and I'm just getting around to it.

It's an interesting exercise to contemplate 
the sum of my 67.5 years, so far,
what I have done with it,
what I want done with my stuff,
my departure from this plane...

These are heavy thoughts,
but it's philosophy for another time, another story.
I only speak of these thoughts as background 
for what happens next...

In the file folder, 
containing a copy of my previous will,
among other papers,
I find a copy of my college grades.

After reading them again for the first time in 46 years,
it brings back those times, in college,
as a reality apart,
a period of transition to the real world,
but not of the real world.

For the 4 years I endured the academic experience,
my entire performance was calculated to be 79.257%.

There were 197 students in my graduating class,
and my grade put me 176 down the list, 
or, if you prefer you can admire my safety margin
which put me 
21 better than worst.

As I write those words, 21 better than worst,
I consider it a tribute to positive thinking.

Some would call it delusional.

But what else could you expect 
from 4 years of living away from home for the first time,
having a car, and freedom of a higher order,
while being governed somewhat loosely by an academic and religious hierarchy,
which must be respected, and rules obeyed,
or I would be expelled into the real world,
which would likely lead to taking bullets in Viet Nam,
or if I could arrange something other,
the other would surely include some sort of manual labor,
or worse...

The fear of that something worse,
while dancing my way through the land mines 
of rules and regulations,
mixed with girls, cars, shooting pool, and capers aplenty,
for four years,
this was my life,
now before me,
summed up into one number.
21 better than worst.

It's a miracle that I made it through, really.

My interest in girls was very high,
and consumed a lot of time that could have been spent studying.
Testosterone was in control,
and I had a car.

Since it was a boys-only Catholic college,
a car was essential to mate with distant females.
My hunting territory was normally within 100 miles of the school,
but it was still a time consuming distraction from building better grades.

Really, any grade above failing
is a tribute to my ability 
to balance my time 
in order to remain in the sweet spot of life.

I got good at this.

So good that I could even shoot pool while doing it.

I was much better at pool than academics.
My ranking among the pool players was probably in the top 3,
but it was a small school,
so it may not count for much of an achievement.
I loved learning and excelling in pool,
and I enjoyed hanging out in the on-campus pool room.
It was a comfortable place to be.

I enjoyed moving up the hierarchy of pool players,
and the ever-changing intellectual puzzles the games presented,
and the joy of developing physical motor skills 
to deliver what you can create in your mind...

It was an overpowering, compelling, addictive pastime.
Pool also consumed time I could have been studying.

In my first year I failed Economics. 
The first semester my grade was 64.
The second semester my Economics grad was FA, Failed due to Absences.
Oh, I also failed Physical Education due to Absences.
But in my defense, the Economics course was incoherent,
and as for not going to Gym class, 
well, I just miscounted how many absences I could get away with.

But somehow I was advanced to my 2nd year studies.
And I got away with failing 3 more credits while advancing again.
The school was very forgiving.

Third year I failed 4 credits, and yet advanced again.

Finally, with great triumph, I failed nothing(*) at all in my senior year.
Upon graduation, I had erupted into real life.
The transition was complete.
Look out world.

There would be no more shooting pool for 40 more years.
It was all business until I was 50 years old,
then I cashed in my business,
played with Ferraris and airplanes,
spending money loosely,
making up for years of frugality.
And now, again, I am living conservatively.

It was fun to think of those college years.
Because when I do,
I think of the capers.
I started a few businesses while I was in college.

Those stories have been told at this link.


My focus was not on academic excellence.
It was on girls, cars, shooting pool and making money in my own businesses.

At that time, I was 
most likely to fail out of college, and yet, somewhat paradoxically,
most likely to succeed in pool and business.

In fact, both of these likelihoods occurred.
Just prior to graduation I was notified that I would not graduate,
because I had over-cut too many classes.
But I somehow talked my way back into a passing grade
after I was selected for a job with IBM.
For the true story of that great double miracle,
of my cliff-hanger graduation,
and my accidental Destiny of a life with computers,
the reader is again directed to the link, above.

Now I must get back to dealing with my will...


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