Put some English or American on your pool shot.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Truman Talks. Let’s start by establishing some parameters. The concept is simple: You suggest a topic, and I’ll talk about it, with a twist or not. 

Full disclosure: I am an absolute freak for the game of pool. I love it, mostly because it is the perfect accompaniment to a night of drinking. No, I tell a lie. I love it because I’m really good at it. Always have been. Both codes appeal. American pool has a bigger table, heavier balls, a bigger cue stick and tip, and wider pockets – the jokes write themselves here. English pool is suitably dainty and genteel by comparison. In fact, they’re a lot like the opposing stereotypes of the English and American male. 

American pool is a guy named Boomer, nothing other. Not Chet or Chad, Dwayne or Donny; most definitely not Gary or Greg. He’s an uncomplicated sort to look at and listen to, at first sight and sound. Boomer by name and nature, as though his parents, Patty and Bud, had foreknowledge of their progeny’s personality. He is a big, brash, bold, heavy, and loud kinda guy. He wants might because it is right.


Or at least that’s how he seems at first, and by and large first impressions last. However, there is (as is always the case in all matters examined correctly) more to good ol’ boy Boomer. He may seem inviting, open, and obvious, but so much is easy about everyone’s easy friend that it is easy to fail to see that which lies beneath the surface. The soft touch, not advertised or asked for, will yield rewards. Plus, you gotta have a plan. No good just flailing around from one thing to the next. He may be chequers (pardon me, that’s “checkers”), but in a way that’s pretty close to chess. So tread carefully upon his green and pleasant baize. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. If you’re not from around here, you’d better just watch your back. If you think you know him, think again, because there’s always something you don’t know or have forgotten to remember about Boomer. But you love him still.

English pool is an altogether different animal, it would appear. Nomenclature is slippery. He could be a Mark, a John, a Darren, or even a Michael, but I believe his name to be Tony. Pay a heartily respectful greeting to one of my oldest friends, Tony. My old mate is a fairly unimposing character to look at. It is probably most instructive to say that Tony has the build of a soccer midfielder: utterly dependable, almost unnoticeable.

Tony looks like the sort of bloke you can approach in any pub or club and set your hand on his shoulders with a matey firmness, fully expecting that, no matter how drunk, loud, foul-breathed, and redolent of aggression you appear, he will not recoil from you. Shrink away from any challenge he will not. For all of his appearance of being easily mastered and imminently conquered, Tony can and will more than hold his own. For all you grip him tighter and tighter still around the shoulders, for all that you speak more loudly to him, with fouler, hotter breath, scorchingly close to his face, he will remain always calm, and together, though seeming diffidently small to you as your dander grows. Yet his subtlety, his nuances, his crafty angles and deceptively simple logic, his light touches ultimately demand respect without ever having to ask for it. All but the canniest fail in their clumsy bids to really get under the skin of good, solid, reliable Tony. You see, if you really take time and effort, patience, reflection, and no insignificant degree of sobriety, one comes to really understand what Tony is about. In truth he is a bon vivant. A thoroughly popular fella with an array of friends, he has girlfriends who are invariably pretty in an understated way.

Choose your poison. Pick your weapons. What’s your type? Personally, I’m a Boony guy: half Boomer, half Tony. Absolutes are dead ends, for me. “Amalgam,” “mesh,” “blend.” Does anyone say “melting pot” anymore?

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