Okay, so maybe pool/billiards isn’t Layla’s top skill and action heroes don’t rely on it to save their necks. But everyone knows that if James Bond or Lara Croft ever walks into a posh private billiards room in Monte Carlo he or she could pick up a cue and beat the pants off any opponent, even a world champ. And that’s because Bond and Croft are just plain cool.
Hence I consider it my action hero duty to learn billiards. Hence last night I had my first billiards class with Melissa “The Viper” Little.
She’s ranked twelfth internationally among women, just returned from playing a tournament in the Philippines, and talks about appearing on ESPN the way other women chat about shopping at the Gap. So you know she’s gotta be good. And with a nickname like The Viper I was expecting a tough, leather-clad biker chick who chews nails and swigs beer. Instead we five beginner students were greeted by a pleasant mom with sparklies on her t-shirt who was the model of patience and eager to share her love of the game.
The class, which was on the second floor of the Wynkoop (downtown restaurant, micro brewery, game place) was two hours, and as you might expect for a rank beginner like me there was only so much I could learn in that time. Yet simply getting down the correct stance, attitude, grip, strokes and follow-throughs started to make a real difference in my game. Yes, there’s still massive room for improvement, but at least I now appear to know what I’m doing at a pool table instead of rambling around it like a posturing twit.
At a hundred an hour I can’t afford The Viper’s private lessons. But the good news is she teaches two hour clinics for $35 one Saturday a month. For me that’s a great way to spend some winter afternoons. Beer and pool. I’ve got class.