Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Howling At The Moon


There was a full moon last night for sure.


A lunar eclipse no less, and it was an amazing site to behold. And a great night to howl at the moon.

And my lovely wife Darlene and I did some howling.

I love to play pool. And this year I am the captain of my team in the league. Darlene spares in the league when someone can’t make it.

Last night was our last league play before the holidays, and Dave – a horse man in the area and an executive in the local Legion – put on a nice dinner for the players and the spares. We had been looking very forward to this night, to the point where Darlene’s brother Glenn would come up later and drive us home.

Before play we had a very nice lamb dinner, and a few beers.

And then we got down to the business of play for the night.

I played poorly – winning only one of my four matches. And another league player was unable to get there on time – stuck in traffic on business – so Darlene played in his place.

But the fun didn’t start until league play was done.

The tables were opened up for free play, so many of us stuck around to play.

Darlene and I teamed up to play Dave and Ken – a fair player on my team.

We’ll play for a case of beer”, Dave said to Darlene.

A case of beer? How about a drink?” she replied.

No, a case of beer”.

And play started, and they cleaned a majority of their balls off the table.

That’s a case of beer each you know”, said Dave, as his partner went to shoot the eight ball with most all of our balls still on the table.

I looked over at Darlene and you could see the wheels in her head working to calculate where the eighty dollars would come from to buy these two guys a case of beer each.

But Ken missed the eight ball.

And the balls were nicely set for me to make a nice run – and midway through the run, I hooked myself behind the eight ball and my only shot was to hit the cue ball from near a corner two rails around the table to strike the five ball into the side pocket.

Five in the side”, I called to the group. I could feel their smirks as I lined up the angle.

The cue ball travelled into both rails and hit the five at just the perfect angle to send the five ball in the side pocket.

I let out a southern whoop, and pumped my fist like Tiger Woods sinking a twenty five foot put to take a lead in a major.

Did he call that!?” asked Dave.

He did indeed”, said Ken.

So you know I was kidding about the case of beer right”, Dave was looking at Darlene.

Just for beers from the bar”, replied Darlene.

I like fine imports from Belgium and Ireland, Dave”, I chimed in.

I sank the eight ball, and the beers arrived at our table as the pool table was racked for a two out of three game rematch.

This time Darlene went on the run, and left Dave stuck on a far rail between our two stripped balls. Dave picked up a rake to reach for the shot – and the rake slipped and hit one of the striped balls. He tried again to line up the shot, but his cue stick hung up on the rake and it slipped to slightly touch the cue ball enough to constitute a shot.

Dave threw the rake to the ground, and called it a very bad name.

But that was not enough, as I tapped in a stripe to leave me a close shot at the eight for the game.

Dave went over and picked up the rake he tossed and mumbled loudly some bad words about how bad the cue stick was, snapped it in half over his knee, opened the back door and threw it into the snow with a move one might confuse with an Olympic discus thrower.

The next set of beers arrived at the table.

The pool table was racked up for the next game.

This time Darlene sank the eight in the corner for the third win.

Now – to be sure – we were all having fun. And Dave was not really mad – he was – as my great Irish friend Ray would say – he was just having a good crack – a laugh.

But the others in the league who hung around to keep playing on the other table were a little scared. Dave is a big guy – as nice a guy as you will find – but he is big enough to be intimidating.

So like guys will do when they see a friend of theirs getting wound up, they all chimed in with the verbal jabs to wind him up further.

How ya playing Dave?” said one.

I think Fred’s wife just beat him again”, answered another.

It’s all in good fun” said Darlene in a calming tone.

Fun?” shouted Dave. “Which part of this humiliation do you think is fun”, shot back Dave.

Pretty much all of it”, I replied. “It’s not often that someone invites you out for a nice dinner and then lets you beat them at pool all night for free beer!

You needed your wife to beat me though. What kind of man does that make you?” said Dave – smiling underneath the false scowl.

The finest kind, Dave, the finest kind”, I replied with a smile.

Photo by Bettina Lair,  Copyright 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Finally Finding My Lost Christmas Spirit

It’s Christmas time again.

The house is decorated.

The snow keeps on falling.

And all the houses on the street are brightly lit with beautiful lights and decorations.

Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a prettier Christmas landscape then our little southern Ontario neighborhood on the Canadian side of the Detroit River.

Our house is all done up inside – the Christmas tree and the holly – the nativity scene set up above the foyer – and the Santa Claus and Rudolph looking out through a window high above the front door – as though they had forgotten where they parked the sled outside underneath the blanket of new fallen snow.

Ya know, Rudolph doesn’t usually actually come in the house with Santa”, I casually observed as my lovely wife Darlene pointed out her newest masterpiece to me.

Bugger, off”, replied my lovely wife. “I like it”.

I like it too.

I think I finally have the spirit.

Oh sure, there is the common yelling and screaming in our house – as there is in any Christmas house with two little girls all wound up in the excitement of Santa’s pending visit.

But no more so than any other house.

At least that’s what I tell myself as one of the girls comes to tattle on what the other has just done to them.

Christmas letters have been written and mailed out to Santa.

Presents have been bought and hidden throughout the house – or the Grandma’s house across town.

Secrets have been told in whispers and shared with others who need to know.

Mistletoe has been hung in strategic locations to encourage random kisses.

And now as Christmas approaches and the kids are out of school, and I am off work until midway through the first week of January, I am finally in the mood to actually embrace Christmas.

The Christmas dinners with colleagues at work and farewells with season greetings as co-workers disappear for the holidays have all taken place.

And now we ready ourselves – steady ourselves - for the final countdown to the craziness of the final days before Santa arrives.

The left over presents that still need to be bought.

The cookies and treats that still need to be baked to be added to the stockpile already placed neatly in decorative seasonal tins across the counters and tables in the Kitchen.

The wrapping and wrapping and more wrapping of presents in pretty papers left in the downstairs closet used only at this time of year.

Crazy.

And then there are the trips to the shopping malls.

I hate shopping malls.

I really hate shopping malls at Christmas time.

Waiting for distant parking spots in the most remote corners of the lot.

Walking through the crowded malls weaving through the traffic while wearing coats and sweaters and sweating profusely while wading through tiny isles to get a better look at gift ideas that don’t transpire into gift purchases.

The pressure. The frenzy. The riled and frayed nerves.

It’s all part of Christmas.

Our capitalistic view of spending that makes our western free-market society continue to work. Thank God for Christmas.

And through all of this – we do forget what this is really all about.

We forget the tidings of good cheer part of Christmas.

We forget the little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem part of Christmas.

We forget about the joy of being together part of Christmas – sometimes because we have spent so much time together through the year that we just drive each other nuts even more as the frenzy of the hype of Christmas hits full swing.

We forget about those important parts. Because the other stuff seems like so much more fun.

Pa rump a bum bum.

I can’t wait.

I can’t wait for all the family to arrive early Chsitmas afternoon, passing out the beers to the men folk and fancy drinks for the ladies. Gathering down by the fireplace with Christmas music playing and a couple games of pool or darts to put some friendly competition in the air.

I can’t wait.

It’s almost here. It just took me a while to catch the spirit.

So on behalf of myself and my family – we would like to extend all of our best holiday wishes to all of you and all of your families during this wondrous holiday season.

Christmas comes but once a year.

Pa rump a bum bum.


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