It's not every day you get to play pool with someone who makes her living at the sport (game, activity, thing you do when you're drunk, what is it?). So when professional pool player Liz Ford invited me along on her stakeout mission of local pool bars in Burlington, I couldn't say no. And when I say she invited me, it's more like I invited myself.
Ford is the proprietrix of the newly formed Green Mountain American Poolplayers Association, a league she started here in our little state. (To find out more about this, check out the upcoming article in this Wednesday's Seven Days). She was on the hunt for some players and thought there might be some around Burlington.
We started our evening at Nectar's, whose blaze orange-felted tables make even the palest among us look slightly less ill than we normally would. Clearly, no one informed Ford that it was slob night at the bar. Not only was she the only person in a skirt, but she was the only one wearing heels...in the entire state. Whatever, she just moved here from New York and clearly doesn't understand that the only heels worn in this state are those at the bottom of logger boots. You know, the gay kind with the fringe.
So let's say Ford stood out a little. And this is before she took her ballin' ass sticks out of her baller-ass bag. She said she normally just uses whatever cues the bar has available, but she brought out the big guns just for fun. Nice.
The dudes who were on the table before us didn't want to play again, so Ford and I looked around to see if there was anyone else who wanted a game. The guys in the camo hats drinking Bud Lights and scratching their nuts at the other pool table were happy diddling on their own, so it was just us. I felt like a fat kid in gym class. I hope she picks me, I hope she picks me! Then finally, Ford asked if I wanted to play her. Um, do bears poop in the woods? Hell yes I want to get smoked by a pro! So what if I was her last choice?
If I were to rank my pool ability, I'd probably fit in somewhere between "often rips hole in the felt" and "once almost made a shot." So I'm pretty awesome, obvs. Ford is pretty awesome herself. Like 17th in the world. Cool.
She racked the balls and then asked if I wanted to break. I was fully intending on breaking, but, uh, then I had a shoe-tying emergency and had to step away to re-knot my laces (you know, since I wore "sensible" shoes). Ford cracked into the little triangle of balls and they all went sailing. I think she got like 23 balls in on that break. Then somehow she missed, most likely because I tripped her on purpose. Then it was my turn.
Yikes. She's no joke.
And holy god, did I crush it. I got two balls in. In a row. But my luck was not to last. Actually, that was the last time I got to shoot that game. Once I missed, Ford was all over that and cleaned the table in about three and a half seconds.
We played again and the result was exactly the same. Except for the second game, Ford gave me some tips. Treat the backstroke like you would a backswing in golf. Don't crank it like you're Tiger Woods' wife after finding out her dirtbag husband cheated on her with a baker's dozen of New Jersey's finest hookers. More smooth, less spaz. And keep the cue level.
After beating me twice with her eyes glued shut using only her pinkie toe and a short tree branch, I begged her to do some tricks. You know, cuz she's a pony. Or a clown. But Ford informed me that doing pool tricks in bars is sort of a dick thing to do, like challenging an amputee to an arm-wrestling match. Apparently, no one likes a show off. But my powers of persuasion are many and Ford broke. She did one quick trick for me while no one was looking:
After that, we figured we should move on to another location, lest anyone accuse her of hustling. So she packed up her blinging sticks and we headed over to the O.P. There we had to wait in line to get in. We are in tough economic times and they do serve free popcorn there.
Once we got in, Ford put her name on the list. It probably took two hours before she got on the table. When it was finally her turn, she pulled out the triangle and started racking the balls. Inexplicably, a young woman who was sort of spectating, sort of playing reached over to the triangle to try to rearrange the balls. I'm pretty sure she was trying to help Ford out. Bless her heart. It was like watching your uncle get up from his La-Z-Boy recliner to give Tom Brady tips on how to make the football spiral.
Ford says things like that happen regularly, and it's annoying. People (mostly men) want to give her tips or try to talk a big game. They later realize she will annihilate them on the table and shut their mouths. Noted. I refrained from any more tip-giving.
If you want to know how our night ended, read Wednesday's paper. Otherwise, just pretend I won a game.
And if you want to see Ford so some real tricks, check out her appearance on the Discovery Channel's Time Warp here.
Photos via lizford.net and poolcuenews.com.