Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nine-ball is a lot like life, only with more chalk.

No question, there's something about that number--nine!--that connects with the human psyche and accounts for the game's addicting nature. There must be mysterious, unseen forces at work here.

Seriously. Want proof?

Keep reading.

Below: the top nine ways in which 9-ball is just like life...

1. The US Weather Bureau divides clouds into nine classes, the highest of which are Cumulo-nimbus--those towering summer thunderheads. To be on cloud nine is to be on top of the world. Like when we've knocked the 9-ball into a pocket on the break.

2. Ever wonder about the origin of the expression "whole nine yards?" Popular theory holds it was the precise length of a hangman's noose. In 9-ball, if we pocket the one through eight, then jar the nine and leave it dangling at pocket's edge, we've hung ourselves with our own noose. We've failed to go the whole nine yards.

3. Then again, sometimes our opponent scratches and hands the ball right back to us. We're like the cat with nine lives.

4. A stitch in time, Ben Franklin was fond of saying, saves nine. Ben was telling us to slow down and give matters a second thought. He must have been thinking of the 30-second extension rule! (Some evidence exists, by the way, that Ben and his continental cronies were ardent billiardists. George Washington played, and Thomas Jefferson even designed a billiard room at Monticello).

5. The popularity of 9-ball as a televison game can be traced to its appeal to Baby Boomers. It's an instant-gratification game, short and to-the-point...a perfect-fit for the Me Generation. Small wonder that "I" is the ninth letter of the alphabet!

6. To tarot card readers, the number nine is the symbol of the Hermit. That's appropriate. Consider how lonely that ol' yellow-and-white feels out there on the table all by its lonesome, constantly being shot at; the other balls--those traitors!--ganging up and allowing themselves to be used in combination. Nope, a 9-ball has no friends out there, no loyalties--a hermit, inexorably in search of the solitude of the snug confines of a pocket-bottom.

7. Nine is the number of the Beatitudes, as in: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." In a 9-ball match, are we meek when we eshew the risky offensive shot and instead execute a perfect hook? Call me meek if you like, but I have no quarrel with inheriting the earth--or at the very least inheriting ball-in-hand.

8.Greek mythology gives us the nine daughters of Zeus, each of whom embodied the Muses of poetry and the arts, that mystic connection between art and the human soul. Is there a sweeter feeling in life--or billiards?--when suddenly...we can't miss! The pocket looks as big as a bucket, the path from object ball to pocket absolutely predestined. We're in the zone, totally in touch with our Muse.

9.In biblical terms, the number nine represents a devine completeness--the trinity of trinities. Nine months represents the human gestation period as well--talk about devine completeness! There's a completeness to a well-played 9-ball match, too: a fulfillment, and a sense that this game--our devine addiction--is indeed a whole lot like life.

With a lot more chalk, of course.