I said, “I am sure. The easy shot would have left the balls spread all over the table. Any of the good players down at Bensinger’s would have played it the way you did, and a lot of them would have missed.”
I think that he was glad I had stopped him from blaming old age, but he was through for the day. He locked his cue into the rack on the wall, and said, either to me or himself or the wall, “Billiards is a good game.”
He made sure that his tie was in the center of his stiff collar before he added, “But billiards is not as good a game as painting.”
He rolled down his sleeves and put on his coat. Elegant as he was, he was a workman and took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves when he played billiards. As he stood on the first step between the billiard room and the card room, he added, “But painting is not as good a game as music.”
On the next and top step, he concluded, “But then music is not as good a game as physics.”
© 1975 by Norman Maclean. Used with permission of University of Chicago Press.
Image: Jas. Maturo, one of the top pocket billiards players in the country, c. 1919. Library of Congress.
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