Just Be Yourself (or Not)

Just Be Yourself (Or Not)…

Megabreak runs three seasonal pool tournaments year-round. Unfortunately I am never in the area long enough to do a whole season, so my goal remains simply to win one event.

Did I just say ‘simply?’ Oops. Well, simple or not, it is my goal.

One side benefit of this endeavor is meeting a wide variety of people who share a passion for the game of pool. Or… other people like my first opponent tonight, “Jack.”

Jack has an interesting appearance, arms fully tattooed, piercings, sharply trimmed sideburns, and I couldn’t tell you his ethnicity. He looks, well, different, so I ask him where he’s from?

He hesitates to answer, but when he does, he replies in a vaguely British accent that he is from the USA, and he says it just like that, “The Yoo Ess Aye.”

I don’t believe him, but reply, “Ohh, me too.” He seems vaguely dissapointed.

The tournament director gets the match started, saying that as this is Jack’s first go he’s been assigned the same rating as me and it’ll be a race to 5. We get underway and something becomes painfully clear: Jack is not a pool player. He can barely make a ball.

Jack adds that he’s originally from South Africa. No matter. Wherever he’s from, he loses all five games and loses them quickly.

He explains that pool isn’t really his game, that he’s a motorcycle racer. Well, now we have something to talk about, as I raced motorcycles for many years. I ask him, “Road or dirt? Which series? What bike? Etc…”

He answers, but vaguely. Although I’ve let him know my background, as someone with specialist knowledge, he seems more intent on impressing upon me that he “rides for Yamaha,” than talking shop.

Instead of talking, tires, tracks, rivals, and traction control, he brags that, “there isn’t a bone I haven’t broken.”

I think he’s full of shit.

Now I’ve broke a few bones in my decade long career, and I know that some bones are a lot harder to break than others. So I ask him, “Ever broken your shoulder blade?”

He says, “Yep,” and no more.

Now I know he’s full of shit. Because every broken bone has a story and a shoulder blade has got to be a doozy, but none is forthcoming. Perhaps more telling, is that Jack has asked exactly zero questions about my racing. Zero.

Scott the tournament director shows up to let Jack know that he’ll get to play a consolation match. As Scott is walking away, I say, “He’s a hell of a player.”

Now Jack is onto a story how he sponsored Scott in a money game for 150,000 baht, and that when Scott lost he wanted to play a rematch for another 150,000 so he and a couple friends staked him. Says he played Y.Y. Chan out of Singapore and asks if I know who that is?

I don’t. Though I happen to know that the top player out of Singapore is Alyosius Yap. I don’t bother to ask Jack if he knows him.

For some reason Jack tosses in that he also races cars. Umm, whatever. And before he leaves for his consolation match, he’s insists on showing me a picture of him sitting on his ‘racebike’: what appears to be a 125cc 4-stroke with HEADLIGHTS. Now unless you’re competing in the Suzuka 8-hours it is highly unlikely for a race bike to have headlights, and Suzuka does not run a 125cc class in the 8 hours.

This is specialist knowledge, but Jack is not a specialist. Jack is full of shit.

But why?

I’ve heard of a thing where people on vacation invent a new identity that they live for a few weeks just for fun. So maybe that’s it, just stories to impress the tourists and bask in a halo of unearned admiration for a little while. Hey, it probably works, most of the time, as long as the other person knows less than Jack.

But isn’t it okay to just be who you are?

Just for the heck of it, I Googled, “Y.Y. Chan Singapore Pool.” Looks like a 40 year old woman who is a sales rep for IBM. No mention of her pool hustling career…

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