THE LONGEST MINUTE
More of Our Canada|March 2021
A billiards rematch 60 years in the making proved to be worth the wait
Doug McNicol

Having recently decided to “mostly” retire, I found out very quickly that filling the void of unwanted idle time was going to become my new occupation. I was determined not to let my mind and body atrophy, as happens with all too many older people after retiring. So, finding enjoyable activities that provided a challenge and chance to interact with people was going to become my mantra.

There was a seniors’ building in the city that I had been avoiding for some time, simply because it was referred to as a “seniors’’ centre. It was now finally time to come to grips with my labelling this place as being for “older” people. My attitude no longer mattered, it was for older people, and I realized I now fit very nicely into that category.

So, with my newfound attitude I thought what the hell, let’s check it out. Sheepishly walking through the front door, I was welcomed by a portly lady, probably somewhere in her mid-forties.

“Well hello there, I’m Barbara, how may I help you?”

The greeting had way too much enthusiasm. I mention this only to point out how the reception I had just received is telling of how some people pigeonhole seniors. She had what some would classify as a baby talk lilt to her voice. I fought off my desire to say anything inappropriate, simply sighed and said I’d like to speak with someone about the type of programs that were offered. Barbara immediately handed me a stack of pamphlets that were at the ready and was starting in on a way-too-lengthy outline of each of them when I raised my finger, stopping her mid-sentence.

“You have billiards,” I said, a statement more so than a question. It said so on page one of the paperwork Barbara had just handed me.

“Why yes,” she replied, assuming I was asking. “Two big kinds of tables and two smaller ones, they all have that green material on them though, don’t know why they can’t make them more attractive.”

Holding my finger up again, “Please stop,” I said, “you’re killing me here.”

I asked for an application, quickly paid the stated annual dues, and left Barbara to do whatever it is Barbara does.

FRENEMIES

Following the signs, I eventually located the poolroom, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was as described, sort of, two full-size snooker tables and two Boston tables, green felt and all. The front snooker table was occupied with four guys playing partners, and on the other one there was a lone shooter getting some practice in. I recognized two of the guys at the front table, and was exchanging some pleasantries when we were interrupted by the guy practicing on the rear table.

“Well, well, will ya look at what the cat dragged in.”

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