Thursday, March 31, 2005

I Bet You Can't Do That Again...

Traveling back in time to 1996, I recall an adventure on my trip to Germany. I traveled with other students from my high school to a city named Osnabrueck in Northern Germany. We experienced the night life, the school life, even toured a peat bog (oh, the joys of peat!), and yet, when I think of the trip, I remember two parts in particular.

The first part of the trip that pops into my head is the day we spent in Koeln (Cologne). Seeing the Cathedral was amazing. Some night (when I get photos loaded from that trip) I will post a couple of the pictures and discuss the eyes on the sidewalk. But that's a story for another night.

I've been playing more pool lately. Char is willing to go out after work and we keep ending up at another local pool hall (not Bugs) and we shoot for about two to three hours a night. I like the practice and Char is improving in leaps and bounds. Sometimes she gets a bit discouraged, but she is getting really good. Playing pool reminds me of the impossible shot I made one simple night in Germany.

The local pub in Osnabrueck was called the Gruener Jaeger. In English it means the Green Hunter. The bar had two rooms downstairs and a run down billiards table upstairs. One of the nights of our three week stay, the host families allowed for our group to meet up at the pub and enjoy the evening. Others in our group stayed downstairs, shooting the breeze and tipping back the pilsner. Not being much of a drinker (I don't really enjoy the taste of alcohol all that much), I suggested a few games of pool upstairs. A girl from our group, Katie (Simone was her German name, we each had one. I was Frieda), decided it sounded like a bit of fun. We gave the deposit to the bartender and got the rack of balls to take upstairs.

The table was old and the owners of the pub did not take care of it. I could tell that drunkards (or just inconsiderates, who knows really) had used it as a chair or couch on more than one occasion. One of my pet peeves in a pool hall is to see someone sitting on a table. It doesn't seem like much, yet the weight of a human being can loosen the glue and allow for the rail to come off the table. On this particular table, one of the rails had been pushed down and created a bit of a ramp. (Can you see where this is going?)

I was shooting at one of my balls and made the ball into the far corner pocket. The cue ball then caromed off that ball and hit the rail. (Should I just say ramp?) I had hit the shot much harder than it needed and of course, the cue ball launched off the table. It also made it past the edge of the floor and headed for the crazy drunken chaos downstairs.

I thought, "Oh no. Here's where German lessons are going to come in handy!" I headed downstairs to look for the cue ball, hoping that I hadn't hurt anyone. When I made it down the rickety stairs (this was one classy joint, I'll tell ya!), I found a group gathered around a table, laughing a bit louder than the others inside the place. I wouldn't have been able to not laugh if it had been me at that table. What else do they see than an innocent, 17-year old blonde, blue eyed American girl wandering around, speaking broken German, looking for a cue ball.

Then they handed me the cue ball, complete with the beer stein filled with pilsner surrounding it. What I could gather is that my cue ball landed perfectly in the pint. I do not know if it actually made it in the glass by its own course of motion, yet I want to believe it.

I stood there, flabbergasted. It was the impossible to me. I tried to remember the German from class, yet nothing we learned could convey the message I wanted to say. I had no clue what the drinker of the beer (bier) had wanted me to do about it, but I could only stand there, apologizing over and over. Finally, I passed over the price of the pint to allow the partaker to partake in a fresh pint, cue ball free.

The drinker then gave me the stein with the cue ball laying so quaintly at the bottom. It fit almost perfectly. The other Americans had noticed the ruckass by this point and gathered around. Pictures were taken, the story was retold, and the dilemma of how to empty the glass to get the ball back was examined. I didn't want to drink the beer and it was almost impossible to get the ball out without emptying the glass. We eventually found an empty glass to pour the beer into and I was able to retrieve the ball.

Katie and I gathered up the rest of the balls and returned them to the bartender. It was enough adventure for one night. Besides, who wants to keep buying a beer for each game of eight ball? That gets a bit expensive, especially when one doesn't like beer.

I've gotten a bit better at pool since that time, but the most important lesson I learned was to make sure the table is in better shape when I decide to hit the ball with all my force. I also learned that my German skills could be much better and that funny stories can come from anywhere.