It was time to leave after another fruitful hour at the Sea Star on Free Pool Sunday: I bartered one of my books for a porter; Gary regaled me with yet another fantastic story from his boat racing days; I wrote 300 words on my kink Western while a decidedly non-kink Western starring Glenn Ford played on television.
I was almost out the door when Rick stopped his pool game and hurried over. He’s an unforgettable fixture on Sundays with his maniacal laughs (on good or bad shots) that carry to California.
Rick asked if I read nonfiction. I said I did. He asked if I would examine a letter he had written to various local organizations and authorities demanding a retraction of his banishment from the senior center. In the preceding months, I’d overhead him discuss the banishment, its alleged unfairness, pettiness and illegality, and possible courses of action for his reinstatement of playing pool at the center.
The precise reason for his banishment had not come up, or at least I never heard anything about it. I did want to know, of course. What does it take to get banished from playing pool at a senior center?
I said I would help. I began right there, standing near the bar, with Glenn Ford blasting away, and perused the two-page letter, while Rick returned to his game.
He needed a crisper opening, a brief narrative of the dispute, some citations of the center’s bylaws he claimed were violated, and perhaps a softer tone, more of an invitation for the center to do the right thing, rather than berating.
Does berating people ever inspire them to do the right thing?
I stuffed the letter into my coat packet and told Rick I would edit it, make some comments and suggestions, and return it next week at Free Pool Sunday. He was of course free to reject all or some of them and it wouldn’t bother me in the least.
Rick thanked me profusely, drained a long shot, cackled, and I walked out into an overcast afternoon, determined to help Rick communicate better and perhaps win the day. No man should be denied the pleasure of playing pool at a senior center without proper due process.
We never discussed a price, but I knew a free beer was coming. Barter. Barter is always best in OTA country.