I do not play billiards, pool, snooker, or any other type of game involving the hitting of coloured balls into other coloured balls via a stick, but I kinda like cue balls. I have for a long time, since sometime in 4th or 5th grade, when I discovered a pool table in a basement with some friends (the details are not important and actually kinda dull, so shall be excluded). We were bored, our parents weren’t leaving anytime soon, and none of us knew how to play pool.
Thus we were discovered sometime later, each holding a pool ball and using it to try and whack other pool balls around the table and into the pockets, something like a highly mutated version of air hockey. Yes, we got our fingers squashed a few times, but, eh, childhood + boredom = memories of unusual injuries. I remember I had the cue ball. It was obviously old – covered in chips, no longer perfectly round, worn, but I liked it. The uniformity, no bands of colour or numbers interrupting it. It was the sort of vague appreciation one can hold so often as a child – a temporary favorite toy, used once, owned by someone else, never seen again and not truly missed, yet never truly forgotten and remembered with fondness.
Since then I have never really had another chance to pull a stunt like that, and the only time I can remember seeing a pool table since then there were no balls on it. However, last Friday I was wandering around antique shops with my sister, Christmas shopping, and she found a bowl of old billiard/pool balls being sold individually.
It contained one white cue ball, perfectly round, smooth, a pleasant weight that fit perfectly into the palm of my hand.
I like cue balls. They’re the ones that get things done – they send the other balls where they’re meant to go, and in the end remain alone on the table, gleaming white, secure in the knowledge that, no matter who has won and who has lost, they have ensured every other ball got into a pocket, without losing their balance and following. They have no need to roll after the other balls into the pocket – the cue ball’s place is on the felt, and it knows this, just as surely as it knows where the other balls are meant to go.
The cue ball sits on my desk right now, resting next to my mouse as I type this, quietly secure in itself. Even away from the felt, it knows where it is, where it is meant to be.
Maybe it will help me get to where I am meant to be as well.