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Six months after returning from 33 months working with the 18th ARVN Division in Vietnam is was enrolled [fall of 1970] at the University of Michigan.  I divided my time equally in the classroom, in the library, in the billiard room of the student union and the golf course. It was in the billiard room of The Michigan Union that I first met Carl Conlon who introduced me to the game of 3 cushion billiards.  That is to say he totally fucked up my life forever as 3 cushion is worse than heroin.   With out any knowledge of the game [I had been playing pool in various basements as a child so I could hold a cue and could pocket balls but a carom table has not pockets] I could average 0.350 from the gitgo. 20 years later when I quit playing seriously I played to a 0.915 average, but that is another story. Carl convinced me to join the American Billiard Association [that is to send money to Gale Johnson] so I could play in their tournaments.  From 1972 until 1975 I drove and roomed with Carl to all sorts of  exotic places such as Chicago, Decatur, Jacksonville, Rockford, Lawrenceville, all in Illinois, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Toledo in Ohio as well as Detroit, Lansing and Monroe all in Michigan in pursuit of fame and fortune.  We lost a fortune but did begin to gain a little fame. SO AT ANY RATE, this is the story of the very first 3 cushion tournament I ever played in.  The place was Bensinger’s Billiards in Chicago and the hall had seen better days.  It was in a basement, I believe in the neighborhood of Clark and Diveresy Streets.  We got there on a Thursday, the day before the tournament started for a little practice on the four old Brunswicks that were in residence [might have been six, a far cry for the glory days between The Wars].  There was a flea bag rat-trap of a hotel right around the corner that Carl knew of and that is where we checked in.  Parking was in a garage and thus we did.  We had no need of a car, everything was walkable, so it was not until late Sunday night that we returned to pick up the car and get out of Dodge after the tournament was over. Now when we pulled the car [I drove there with Carl riding shotgun in a yellow Fiat 128 if you know what that means, a cheese box on wheels] into the garage we were met by the attendant and after explaining our situation he tells us: “okay dat will be $20 for 3 and a half days” Well the posted rates were $2 a day so that did not make sense and we told him so, and by the way could we have a ticket and a receipt and we would pay when we left like the sign said.  After some muttering on his part we completed the transaction, got our ticket punched on the time clock and left.  What the fuck did he think we were some country bumpkins???  And so we waltzed out of there to play some billiards. I remember only one game where I played a gentleman by the name of Luis Campos.  He beat me 30-2 [I actually scored 4 points but in those days a foul cost you a point off the wire and I fouled twice by knocking a ball off the plaaying surface so my net was only 2].  Luis was a real mensch and was so embarrassed to be beating me so badly that towards the end of the game he seemed to be trying to leave me easy shots but I was so nervous it was to no avail.  The one thing I remember vividly about the game was that the bathroom was about three feet above the floor that the tables were on and that there was a problem with water leaking from one of the urinals.  As a result of this leakage there was a small stream flowing underneath the table we were playing on and some times you just had to stand in it [it was not very deep and clear, not yellow] to play your shot.  Perhaps that is why I played so piss poorly??? NOW FLASH FORWARD to a tournament at Chris’s Billiard in the early 1980's.  Luis was a defensive player who played around 0.850, probably could have averaged better but was more concerned about leaving you nothing and winning the game rather than his average.  He had a lot of skills.  Now I had played in a lot of tournaments since that first one in Bensinger’s but had never had another match with Luis simply due to the luck of the draw.  NOW KEEP IN MIND there were a cadre of players back then who you knew were always going to be in the finals and they for the most part ignored, nay even shunned, us younger players.  They were the elite of American billiards [if you can call 0.950 players elite–in 1986 I think it was when the world championship was held in Vegas Shorty was strutting his stuff and flapping his lips about how he was going to teach “those damn foreigners about American safety play.”  He got Ceulemans for his first match and lost 60-4 but boy did he play safe....lol] AT ANY RATE if one of these players ever showed you a shot, watch out, because they were probably showing you the way NOT to shoot it as they were scared of you getting better and beating them.  Such was the state of billiards back then.  Now keep in mind there were exceptions to this rule but few and far between. So I got to play Luis in Chicago again, ten years after our first match.  He wins the lag, runs two and misses and I put an 11 on him.  Well he beat me 30-22 and afterwards when he shook my hand with his cold fish limp hand shake he smiled at me and said: “ After your first inning I saw I had to re-evaluate my strategy against you.....I see you have improved greatly.  Let us go and have a coffee together and talk....”  In other words he had remembered our first game all those years ago.  Over the coffee he diagramed a shot that I did not shoot and recommenced that I study it and he was right.  To this day when I shoot it I silently thank him because I never would have seen it on my own. OH SHIT: I forgot to tell you what happened that Sunday evening, after my first billiard tournament, when  Carl and I went to the parking garage to pick up the car and drive home.  To our dismay we had NOT ONE but TWO flat tires.  At least the SOB had only let the air out and not punctured them and had a compressor so we could  fill them up and be on our way.  Service charge was only $10.  God, I just love Chicago, kind of reminds me of New Jersey.