As the Winter Olympics are in full swing, even those who find no enjoyment in sports can’t help but find themselves caught up in some amount of national pride. In such a monumental time persons of all creed and status retain some steadfast loyalty to their flag as their country competes on the international scale. What on earth can this have to do with my trip to Argentina you ask? I shan’t keep you in suspense any longer…
A group of us program students went out last night to celebrate a fellow student’s birthday by attending a movie and afterwards, a restro-bar that offered table games (Jenga, Scrabble, etc…), pool, video games, and many other fun activities; think Chuck-e-Cheese or Dave and Busters minus prizes and arcade games. Another student, Austin, and I decided to play a game of pool for a little while but, since it was crowded, we waited for a table to finish up and solicited their permission to use the table, which they kindly obliged. This is the part of the story where Olympic fever sets in.
As they finished up, they approached us with an offer of, “Two against Two” namely two of them versus my partner, Austin, and I. Not wanting to be rude to our host brethren we accepted their challenge with the condition that we be permitted a practice round to warm up. The tension begins to mount. Team USA begins to warm up as a crowd gathers sensing the electricity of what is soon to come, the practice round becomes a scouting report for Team ARG as they huddle and confer. The game ends, it’s time for what the crowd has been waiting for, Team USA vs. Team ARG. (It’s important to note that Team Argentina had a roster of roughly 6 players to choose from so it can be accurately assessed that they chose their top players, just a quick side note)
After negotiations break down as to which team would break (5 failed rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors), we defer to Team ARG and become versed on what the “House Rules” are to be; this is extremely important later on as there were “omissions”. …The game commences and it’s a back and forth; it becomes apparent that neither team would stand a chance in a international high-stakes game of pool, but the tension is felt by fans of both teams with every shot. Crucial, missed opportunities by both teams add to the dynamic as every shot becomes important and eventually Team ARG takes a commanding position with only a single ball on the table compared to Team USA’s three remaining. A missed shot by Team ARG give Team USA a shot and, a brief conference to reassess the situation, Team USA strikes back like John McClane and pockets all remaining numbers; the Eight ball stands as the last obstacle to a “Miracle on Felt” performance. But suddenly the game halts.
Team ARG wants to clarify the “House Rules” in regard to the Eight ball as they realize the inevitable loss that is to befall them at the hands of the dominant Team USA. Until this point Team USA had played by “House Rules” that seemed vague and arbitrary but, in the spirit of competition and understanding, we had conceded to without gripe. That is until Team ARG demanded that the Eight ball would be sunk in the same pocket that the last ball had fallen into. The tension that had already been as thick as a den of thieves erupted with protests of consternation by Team USA fans, and to players as well, over a rule that was deemed horse crap. Negotiations were of no avail and we were forced to continue play with this conveniently crafted, spontaneous rule; Team USA missed what had now become an impossible shot. Team ARG then took its shot, sinking its last ball, and lining up for the Eight ball. “Foul!” was cried by Team USA, as Team ARG looked to sink the Eight ball in a pocket that their last ball had not gone into and an explanation was sought, nay, demanded for such hypocrisy. It was determined by the Argentine “Ref” that because both teams’ last shot had fallen in the same pocket, both teams could not put the 8 in the same pocket and as such, Team ARG would have to sink the 8 into the opposite side pocket, a pocket that favored the current shot of Team ARG. Feeling helpless and unable to stop the inevitable Team USA could only watch as Team ARG sunk the 8 and ended the match. A loss by Team USA on a technicality or more aptly put, a cheater’s tactic.
Dismayed and heart broken, Team USA was to say the least, unpleased with the results of a match that had been fixed against their favor. More than that, national pride was on the line and we were not about to take this travesty, this travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham sitting down like the French would have. A rematch was demanded with “proper” rules, those of the good ole USA. Team ARG obliged and the table was set for the showdown, a showdown that would not only be a fair game but a game for national bragging rights. Would new, proper rules be enough to conquer the Argentinean team that had just stared down Team USA? Again a back and forth game between giants developed as shouts of excitement and pangs of missed opportunity were heard. Suddenly Austin, of Team USA, made a terrific combo shot that put Team USA up by two and it became evident as to who would prevail. Team ARG tried with determination to come back but any hope of a repeat victory was dashed by a three-ball streak that ended with “8 ball, corner pocket” for the win. A fan of Team USA summed up the excitement with a shout of, “ESTADOS UNIDOS”, that I have no doubt many in the entire establishment heard.
The series was tied up at one a piece and a game three sudden death match game would be played with a pre-arranged hybrid of Argentinean and US rules. However before the rules could be established, Team ARG retreated away from the pool table and scampered off, afraid of the certain defeat that would befall them if they stayed. A default victory for Team USA, but a victory fought with the sweat and tears of American patriots and a great sense of national pride in the greatest nation on earth!