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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

At the Billiards Hall

Jack Daniels sign

Around the block from Slezska ulice (street) is a billiards club. It has 24 tables; twelve pocket and 12 billiard, with one tournament-size billiard table. The space used to be a cinema, which by its size might have held 200, but probably less. And with Jack Daniels served (on ice, if you ask), where can a guy go wrong? And, as the sign (above) says, Happy Birthday Jack! (Jack’s birthday is September, in which you’ll find the tradition of Mash’a Claus, when a Tennessee redneck dressed as a Tennessee redneck comes to small towns with a black bag filled with liquortoys for all adults who’ve been good throughout the year).

I played pool with Jiri (YER zhee; George), my new landlord. I was asked the other day if I liked to become friends with my landlords, to which I thought, before replying, that I hadn’t thought about the different between “landlord” and “friend” (or at least friendly), but whatever the case, the answer is “Sure, why not?” George lived in the USA for more than 10 years, and speaks fluent English.

While I’m sure he wouldn’t mind correcting my spatny cestinu, playing pool and drinking draft beer was neither the place nor the time. So I racked up the balls on a genuine Brunswick table and George cracked the 15-rack into 15 singles. From then on we pretty much sucked as players, but for some bright moments of clarity and streaky easy shots.

This hall charges by the hour, about 65Kc per during the 2 – 7 afternoon “early bird” special. The price jumps only to 110Kc after 7, which is still a deal when your having fun, pulling a draught or two, and whiling away sunlight on a summer afternoon. Hell, with table-side bar service at 32Kc per half liter, there’re’nt many places cheaper in all of “the Prague” (as my students would incorrectly say).

I believe George and me split the games in the two hours we played and chatted. Lots of poor pool was played, but there were shining moments as well. Now that I’ve gotten some practice, I think I’ll have a better go of it next time around.

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