Every aspect about this program, whether it be the 60 or the 70 I get on each weekly assignment, my team’s and my struggles to create a video, or my inability to beat Jasmine Rios in a simple game of ERS, frustrates me. It’s become a trope to try hard, come close, and miss. Though I learn from my mistakes, my subsequent attempts are met with subsequent failures. Though this is true of all things, playing pool on the fourth of July was no different. Kellen and I played two games of pool while Jaz and Jordan watched. While I think Kellen’s just as good pool player as I am, people (Jaz, Jordan, and Kellen) think that I am better because I hit the ball harder and go for absurd angles. Kellen, Jordan, and Jaz gave me the nickname ‘Three Ball McGhee’ in the first game because I managed to hit three balls into pockets off of one shot! Though it was wild, they were sadly all Kellen’s stripes. Though it was close, Kellen won that game because I scratched the while hitting the eight ball.
Immediately after the first game a random man (whose name I would later find out to be Alex) comes up and puts two Rand on the table exclaiming, “I want the winner of the next game.” Kellen and I play again, and it was another close game. However, I managed to win and stay on the table. Alex saunters up and tells me to rack the balls which I do. Before Alex hits three balls (of his own) into pockets, before he breaks, before he tells me it’s his first time playing, before he even puts two Rand on the table, I knew I was going to lose. Nonetheless, I wanted to see what would happen so I tried my best. He shot some balls in, I pocketed one or two. Soon it was my 5 solids to Alex’s 3 stripes.
On one particularly hard shot where the cue ball was practically sitting on the edge and a solid was indirectly lined up with the middle pocket, I did not know what to do. So, I asked Alex what he would do. Alex instructed where on the solid I should aim and I knocked it into the hole. With his help on every turn, I got back into the game. All of a sudden Alex scratched, and I had two shots to sink the eight ball. I missed the pocket on my first attempt, but I set myself up perfectly for the second. As Jaz, Jordan, and Kellen were cheering on ‘Three-Ball McGhee,’ I set up for my second shot, taking two practice strokes which got near but never touched the cue ball. On the third stroke, I forcefully hit the cue ball which solidly connected with the 8. The 8 ball rolled to the table’s far-right edge and teetered on the edge of the pocket. After kissing both pocket points, the ball decided to settle in front of the far left pocket. Alex, seeing the perfect set up, quickly took advantage and won the game. I knew if I had a third shot, I would have won. However, I also knew that I only got that close because Alex let me.
As I gave Alex a firm handshake, I recognized that I learned a lot that can be applied to VAGH and life more generally: if I ask for help, I will receive assistance; success is not guaranteed despite my persistence; there are finite opportunities, so don’t blow it; there will be people like Alex who are going to run the table, so have fun and smile even if your ambition exceeds your talent.