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  #21  
Old 12-10-2016, 01:49 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Dad and me

My dad was okay, I guess. During the depression he got a job in Federal civil service and raised a family of five. I was born in a grand three-story plantation house called Woodlawn that he was renting for fifteen dollars a month. It was in the middle of a sugar cane field by that time, and on a dirt road. In wet weather the old car sometimes bogged down in the mud, and a black guy named Brock would come with a mule and pull it out.

Did Dad and I bond? Maybe so, after a fashion. I remember we did some stuff together. Looking back, all of my memories of growing up are colored by the fact that I am/was schizoid. Schizoid personality disorder, Google knows all about it. I didn't know about it until I was more than eighty years old, but I have no doubt that it began sometime when I was a kid. I don't really do relationships, even in family. Terrible, but there it is.

I left home when I was eighteen years old, to join the military, and that was just about the end of whatever tied Dad and I together. He worked in Cuba and Honduras and finally retired to Florida. Wherever he was, I visited once or twice a year. I finally realized he had no common sense at all. I don't know if he ever made any serious money in his life, but it didn't matter. Whatever he had, people took from him - and made him like it.

He was obstinate and cantankerous as hell as he got older, and never admitted to being wrong about anything. In one of his more serious fender-benders, he explained to the cop that he was making a left turn, and the other guy was just coming too fast to stop. My sister and I finally went to the local police and persuaded them to lift his driver's license. Thank goodness he never knew we had done it, or he would never have spoken to us again. The state of Florida had just renewed it for three or four years, by mail, and he was more than ninety at the time. Old people are big business in Florida.

Somewhere along the way, the telephone thieves got to him, but good. They got all he had. When my mother died he cashed an insurance policy for thirty-five thousand, and they got all of that. He took out another mortgage on his little house, and they got that. They called him and talked to him in the afternoons and blew smoke up his ass, telling him they were his only real friends now and that his son just came to see him by way of a vacation. I couldn't make him see what was going on. Several times, face to face, he would nod and tell me they had warned him what I was going to say, and here I was doing it, just as they had said.

They made him think he had won a Cadillac in a drawing, and it would be delivered after he sent them some necessary expense money. He always had to send his money by UPS, not by USPS, and they had a reason for that. Damn right they did. I tried to show him what they were doing, No dice. At one point he explained that he had quit dealing with the bunch in Vegas, as they just wanted to rob him. The current callers lived in Illinois and they were from the midwest, and therefore a better sort of people, and could be trusted. They sold him a home entertainment center, for $800. It was a plastic radio in a box; maybe ten bucks at WalMart. They sold him exotic medicines with magic qualities that he could sell to his neighbors and make a huge markup. But all his neighbors were trying to sell the same pills. He ordered all manner of promotional trash with his name on it. Drink coasters cut out of thin Naugahyde, with 'Courtesy of Eaton Summers' printed on them. Five dollars each, and he bought a lot of them. For many thousands of dollars he got maybe $200 dollars in useless trash. Nobody is as blind as a guy who refuses to see. Finally they quit calling him. Dad was flat broke, and they knew it. He died flat broke at ninety-nine, about eight years too late. I never want to be as old as he was.

The space between us grew as he went down hill. My younger sister had to look after the old goat for a long time, going to his house after work every day. Bless her. I don't think I would have done it. In his old age, my Dad was not a very lovable character. I see signs that I might be a lot like him if I live long enough - or too long, to be honest. Scary thought.
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Last edited by vapros; 12-16-2016 at 11:32 PM.
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  #22  
Old 12-11-2016, 09:01 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Groovin'

on a Sunday afternoon. Good day to watch NFL football, and I did. Steelers were in Buffalo, playing in the snow. When I tuned in, the field was covered in snow, except that all the lines were bare and visible. How do they do that; a guy with a broom, maybe? More likely a machine, but I didn't get to see it. Maybe there's a pipe with hot water, buried under the line. One of the officials, Carl Johnson, could be seen behind the players' bench during the breaks, getting down in front of a big torpedo heater. I'm pretty sure he was wishing he was back in Thibodaux, LA for the afternoon.

* * * I watched the Saints taking the gas again - pretty sad. One of the commentators said it was only the third time in NFL history that a game had gone to halftime with a 13-8 score. They keep stats on everything, and maybe they go farther than what is needed. As we all know, 62% of all stats are made up on the spot, anyway. I think the final was 16-11. Their stat machine might throw a rod and go to smoking on that one. Likely a first. Saints lost it.

* * * Got a kick out of Jeff's post today in his journal. He tells a story about going AWOL and doing some time in the military pokey. Imagine that - an ex-con, right here on our site! Come to think of it, I don't think he is the only one, either. You know, with this many pool players. . . Good tale, Jeff, and that's what the readers here like. Don't stop now. We can live vicariously; look it up on Google.

* * * I can't go to Office Depot without trying all the desk chairs. Yesterday I was there for a small item, but I discovered a chair. It was one of the very cheapest ones they had, mesh back, etc., but behind the mesh it had a couple of curved metal supports that hit me right in my aching back. Love at first sight, and of course I bought it. Brought it home and unpacked all the parts and built the chair. My sore shoulder (surgery, 10-12-16) is badly irritated and sore today, from tightening up all those bolts with that little hex wrench, but my old back feels great. Best $109 I've spent in a while.

* * * The Christmas rush is upon us; has been since Black Friday. I just never can get into it. Traffic is awful. Time to get ready. Sometime this week I will get a haircut and lay in enough stuff from the grocery store to get me to the end of the month. After that, I will venture out only to go to the pool room. Let's hear it for the pool rooms and the pool players and the game of one-pocket. Count your blessings. Remember the Dark Ages, when you were playing nine ball. Over and out.
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  #23  
Old 12-15-2016, 02:17 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Ho, Ho, Ho!

There's one thing that makes Christmas special for me; that makes it different from other people's. I normally get about the same kind of gifts that others get - maybe a motorcycle or a small cabin cruiser or a Patek watch with a platinum band, stuff like that. But every year, in the mail, I get a fruitcake from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and for me it don't get no better than that. A good friend sends me one each year and lemme tell you, greater love hath hardly anybody I can think of. If you've never had one of those fruitcakes, it's high time. You could still get it by Christmas. It's one of those things one can buy, whether one deserves it or not.

It's the number one fruitcake outfit in the world, I believe. They send out many thousands every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and have a huge list of repeat customers. And don't go thinking it's some kind of mom and pop operation. Just recently, a controller at the bakery got sent off to the Texas pokey for stealing sixteen million dollars. Quite a story there. Over the very few years he was tapping the till, the guy bought thirty-eight automobiles. Must be he just wanted to go to jail.

Had to buy a new GoPhone today. The old one went tits up a few days ago. This fifty dollar gadget does everything I need it to do, but it will still take me four days to learn how to operate it. I don't know what to say about today's cell phones. Guys pay hundreds of dollars and I know of at least three people in the pool room who talk to their phones, and the phones answer back. I'm not lying. Has it been so long ago that a conversation on the phone required two people and two instruments? Not any more. All that is needed is a lonesome pool player and a cell phone. Pretty spooky.

Glad to see that Jeff's journal is beginning to draw a crowd. He has tales of pool and gambling, and the members here can't get enough of that stuff. No doubt we have other members on the site with good stories to tell, but Jeff is the only one speaking up. Go 'head on, young man!
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  #24  
Old 12-18-2016, 02:04 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default My Baking Stone

Not every cook has a baking stone, but I am advised that all the best ones do. In case you regard yourself as a good cook, but have no baking stone, this is not the time or place to confess. The others don't need to know. I have my own personal baking stone, if that proves anything. It was given to me by a friend who guaranteed it would help make me a better cook. In all fairness, it has not made me any worse. Last nite it helped me bake six biscuits that I discovered in my freezer.

Without going into detail, when done the biscuits were softer than the baking stone, but not a whole lot softer. Not nearly soft enough to eat, anyway. I fished the bag from the trash can and discovered that the 'use by' date was early in 2015. That hit me pretty hard, and I began to wonder if anything in the freezer was still fit to eat.

My daughters bring me food items, worrying that I eat too many sandwiches and too much cereal. In the freezer there are packets of fish filets, drippy beef for sandwiches, gumbo, taco soup and several things on which the printing has faded away. They have all been stashed there for me to prepare and eat at my leisure. I suspect my leisure has come and gone. I will hate to lie to my girls.

The TV is chock-a-block with ads for medicines I never heard of; stuff with weird names I can't pronounce. Ask your doctor if this is right for you, we are urged, but watch out for all these terrible things that might happen to you. I suppose the government requires them to do it, but you know they must hate it. First the pitch and then the warning.

Medicine attracts lawyers, like cow pies attract flies. We want to talk with you, they tell us, if you took any of that stuff and it made you sick. No fees unless we win the case. Who didn't know that?

Jeff Sparks continues to tell us pool and gambling stories in his journal, and even Androd of Few Words has chimed in with a tale of his own - good one, too. I think he is just writing because he doesn't feel well enough to play one-pocket. I write because I don't shoot straight enough to play one-pocket. The difference is that Rod will get better. I probably won't.

I feel certain both Jeff and Rod will tell only true stories, but I will send up a balloon if I see anything fishy.
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  #25  
Old 12-20-2016, 12:17 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default

I went to the pharmacy to pick up some pills today. I thanked the girl at the counter and she responded, 'no problem'. I went to therapy and a young guy in green scrubs stuck the buzzers on my shoulder and covered it with a heat pack and set the timer. I said thanks and the young guy in the green scrubs said, 'no problem, man'. I went to a coffee shop and thanked the girl at the counter for my tall cafe' au lait. 'No problem' said the girl at the counter. What the hell has happened to 'you're welcome'? Seems as though it went out about the time everybody started saying 'like' in every sentence. I'm pretty damn' tired of hearing no problem instead of you're welcome. It always occurs to me that this would be the ideal spot for a smartass comeback, but I have not been able to come up with a good one yet. However, not everyone has picked up that terrible habit. I bought a sandwich from a little guy the other day and thanked him and he responded 'nuttin' to it'. Not much better, but different.

I have a walking cane that I use if I'm traveling more than a few steps – not so unusual for people in my age bracket. It gives me a third connection to the ground and helps prevent small disasters when I trip over the crack in the sidewalk. I have had the thing for a couple years now, and I have left it nearly every place I put it down, especially the buggies at the grocery stores. Many times I have missed it and gone back to retrieve it before anyone noticed. So you see that I can walk okay without it.

Saturday nite I left it in a buggy at Albertson's, and today I went back to see if it might have been turned in to the management. I didn't have much hope of ever seeing it again. When I asked about my cane at Customer Service, I was referred to a portly young man in a large apron. He indicated that I should follow him and he led me to the closet where the mops and buckets were kept. In the closet was a barrel with maybe a dozen canes standing in it, including mine. I picked it out gratefully, and he spread the others out and asked if I wanted any more canes, so I picked up another one, a much nicer model than mine. He said I could have more if I wanted, but I just took the two I had in my hands. I gave the young man a little salute and thanked him. 'No problem' said the portly young man.

Inevitably, I will leave my cane someplace and won't find it again. That's okay – I have a nice spare.
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  #26  
Old 12-21-2016, 11:27 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default The Shortest Day

Today is the shortest day of the year and that's good, because it wasn't much of a day. No doubt the sun rose and set as usual, but we didn't get to see it in this town. The sky was gray and gloomy all day, and the breeze was chilly. Chilly around here means below fifty degrees. They say that such weather is bad for business; that buyers are unmotivated on days like today, but not when it's this close to Christmas. They are on the street and spending and creating traffic jams and hating one another. Took me forever to get back home from the poolroom.

In one of the threads on this site today, Hendy was reflecting on the great number of pool rooms near him, in the past, where a young guy could play and gamble. Presumably, a lot of them are gone now, and we are left to wonder why. What factors determined whether your poolroom made it or failed? Were the action guys, players and stake horses, good for business or did all that money go 'round and 'round and then leave the building with the same people who brought it in?

I know the bowling proprietors learned long ago not to cater to the stars with the big hooks and big averages. They didn't put enough money in the till. Proprietors made their nut on Joe Blow, who joined a couple of leagues and appeared at 8:30 every Monday and Thursday and spent twenty bucks quietly and went home. I don't travel around much, but I have the impression that the pool leagues today are making the nut for the successful rooms. Coin tables, eight ball and beer – that's where it's at now. As a one pocket player, of sorts, I find myself regarding the league players with a bit of disdain, but I know I should not because they are keeping the room open so that I can stumble in and play one pocket on the daytime special.

I'm a nosher. I keep snack food in my desk. Lately I have been buying the little packs of bread sticks and cheese from Walmart. The pack has eight little bread sticks in one end, and the other end has a little pot of soft cheese so you can dip the bread sticks. It's labor-intensive, for what I get to eat. It is all covered by a plastic sheet that is stuck on very tightly, and must be removed with great care, or your bread sticks jump out and onto the floor.

I'm reminded of a monkey I saw on a youtube video recently. He was given a task; a problem to solve. There was a prize inside the thing, and he knew it, but he had to jump through some hoops to get it. If he did it all correctly, he was rewarded with a small bite of food. That's pretty much how it is with me and the cheese and the bread sticks.
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  #27  
Old 12-23-2016, 05:42 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Christmas Dinner

Just two more days, forty-eight more hours, and then my clan will assemble for Christmas. As we often do, we will get together at my ex-wife's place. She and her second husband live in a funny little house directly across Bayou Lafourche from the Administration Building at Nicholls State U in Thibodaux. Right on the bayou bank. There's a little pier over the water, and the guy buys old bread, sixty loaves at a time, from a bakery outlet. When he goes out on the pier and thumps on the floor he draws a crowd of ducks and geese and turtles and catfish and an occasional 'gator. Poor guy, he's been sucking oxygen for more than twenty years, but he is still there. I have asked if I can have the house if I can outlive the both of them.

This will be a major league pig-out, with a ridiculous amount of good food, and football on the TV. The younger folks will show up bearing twenty dollar gifts, and they will spend an hour passing them around and conniving for the best ones and arguing and changing the rules of the game as they go. Sort of like Congress. I would not get involved in that violence for a permit to dig in Androd's yard. It will not be easy to find a safe place until it is over.

My contribution to this event, or my assignment, is to buy the Chinet plates for the diners. The thing is, that house is a comfortable place for maybe six people, but I am instructed to bring at least thirty Chinet plates! Look, like Santa Claus I have made me a list and checked it twice and there is not near that many people in my family, and this is cause for alarm. Who the hell is coming? I hate to be a Grinch (I don't, really), but it is what it is and I am what I am. I'll be glad when it is over and everybody goes home. Ho, ho, ho.

I'm only going because the people I love will be there. Personally, I would schedule this meeting on maybe April 5 or October 16, or some day like that, and not tell any outsiders about it. And we would not need any thirty damn' Chinet plates, either.

Being serious, I wish the best of the holiday season to all of you. Spend Christmas with the important people.
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  #28  
Old 12-25-2016, 01:17 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Patsy

My favorite coffee shop is the one at Airline and Bluebonnet. Heavy traffic on both those streets, and the coffee shop is almost like an oasis on that corner. They have tables and chairs outside in the front, and umbrellas. That's where I take my coffee and cookie, and often I have the porch to myself, and I like it that way. If I play one pocket on the daytime special, I just have time to get there by about 4:30, ahead of the worst of the rush.

When I parked in their lot last Friday there was a lady and a baby sitting in the next car. Not too unusual to see singles in public lots, waiting for someone, but most of them don't bring the baby. I got my coffee and sat down outside, and directly an old van came in and parked next to the woman, and she got out of her car and began to get the baby out of the car seat. A couple of guys and a kid got out of the van and the men stood talking to the woman and taking turns holding the baby. The kid didn't seem to be part of their group, and he strolled around, looking at nothing. Strange looking kid, looked like he might be ten or eleven years old. His baseball cap was too big, his old silk shorts were too long and floppy and he wore black and red socks with his blue sneakers.

Finally the kid wandered over toward me, and walked past and then turned and came back, and then did it again. He stopped near me and looked up at the sky, which was rapidly turning dark. Without looking at me he said, 'Nice evening' and I agreed that it was, and suddenly I realized that this kid was a small woman. It made her outfit seem even stranger. She was in the driveway and didn't climb up on the pad where the tables were. I was almost speechless. There were three more chairs at my table, and I never thought to offer her one. She wanted to talk, and she did it standing in the driveway. She looked like her name was probably Patsy, if you know what I mean. She never said and I never asked, but I thought of her as Patsy for some reason. The more she talked to me, the more she seemed like a kid, but she said she was thirty-four years old.

The rest of the group walked over and went into the coffee shop, but Patsy stayed and talked with me. She commented that they were all in recovery, and would be going to an AA meeting in a few minutes.

***** This is long enough for one post, but I want to tell you about the conversation I had with Patsy. I will write about her once or twice more, when Christmas is over. ****
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Last edited by vapros; 11-29-2018 at 11:27 PM.
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  #29  
Old 12-26-2016, 01:38 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Patsy, too

I mentioned that Patsy and I had a conversation, but that's not really what it was. It was more like a monologue in a sort of interview format. She never smiled and seldom looked at me, but in few words she related her story in disjointed installments. She answered my few questions as if they had been prepared for her use. Two little studs thru her lower lip looked almost like warts, but I didn't ask the questions that came to me about them.

I have been curious about AA meetings for a long time. Pretty much a teetotaler, I have never attended one. I don't care much for the stuff, beyond an occasional cold beer, and have always been too tight-assed to risk crossing my own lines. But I asked Patsy about such events and she explained it all to me. She commented that she liked Baton Rouge because you could always find a meeting near you. There seems to be published guides for meetings, in addition to a hot line. Either AA or NA, she noted. No excuse to skip a meeting if you needed one. She was proud of her five years of sobriety, and said so. I still don't know what happens at an AA meeting.

Patsy confessed to having 'a past', but offered few details beyond recalling the wrong people she had hung out with for many years in many parts of the country. In answer to my question she acknowledged having been to jail, but always for misdemeanor things like public drunkenness. No felonies. With a small motion of her hand she declined to say whose jails she had seen. Unimportant detail.

Friday was her day off, from both her jobs. She works at a Walgreen's and also at one of the fast food outlets. Got her own place now, and I had the impression that might have been a landmark in her history. She is laying low and saving her money to make another move, as she has a sister in Newport News, Virginia, who is watching for a suitable job for her. That could be the place where she will dig in and stay.

At last she has found a guy who will stay with her and look after her; something she always knew she needed a real special guy, and because of him she is happy about her future. When I asked about her special guy, she told me I had misunderstood her. Not a guy, at all, she explained. Patsy was talking about God.


**** I will write about Patsy just once more. Maybe tomorrow. ***
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Old 12-26-2016, 11:42 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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Default Patsy and God

Patsy finally made the six inch step up from the driveway to the level where the tables were, and it put her just about even with me, as I sat with my coffee. And for the last few minutes of this encounter she made eye contact now and then. She stood with her hands in the pockets of those terrible silk shorts and spoke as if she were telling me secrets.

I've heard people tell me of finding God, and I think that's what the old tent revival meetings were all about. Patsy did not see it like that. She said God had found her; that he could not go to the places where she was going, but that he was right there when she finally came out. They had made some sort of bargain on that first day and had been together ever since. He promised her that she would never have to look for him again, because he would always be there, and he was. Her guy.

She went on to explain all the ways by which God led her and looked after her and kept her out of trouble. There was no doubt in her mind that this part of her life was now taken care of, permanently. It was obvious to me that she had approached my table because she had wanted to tell her story to someone, and it was equally obvious that there was no one else. Two days before Christmas and she had no one, but she was not complaining. Patsy was full of God, just as surely as she had once been full of other things.

I am not a devout man I just don't have the required blind faith but more and more I find that I envy those who do. I don't quite understand them, but I envy them. They have something very real and they take great comfort from it, and it is obviously a good thing. But without the faith you can't get it; not from the internet, not from the library or from a preacher. Patsy didn't have much, but she had that. Good on you, Patsy.

When she finally ran down she asked me for the time, and I told her. 'Whoa,' said Patsy, 'I better go jack 'em up!'. And she hurried off to find the others.
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