Of all people to completely overlook a prime innuendo, “Me Time” Mondays was ripe for the picking. So back to “Man Time” it is. Obviously this has nothing to do with being exclusive to men, it just happens to be phonetically pleasing. If anyone is offended, please remember the URL you typed to get here.
AG Needs You!
Look, there’s only so many things I can write about that I used to enjoy doing before this website. I’m guessing our readership has some amazingly interesting hobbies that fellow members would enjoy hearing about. If you have an interesting hobby let me know, we want to share your story.
Tony Takes ‘Er Easy
Its 8pm Sunday night and I’m feeling pretty good as I sit down to begin writing Man Time. As usual I intended to have it done much sooner, but in contrast to other weeks the reason I got a late start was a new one. I took a weekend off AG for the 1st time since it started. Well, mostly.
I approach most weekends with the mindset of dedicating X or Y amount of time (its science!) to work on things for the site scheduled around some down time along with family plans and activities. Some weekends it goes smoother than others, but almost every weekend I wish I had gotten more done, and to be frank it was wearing on me. I decided to finally listen to all the sound advice I’d received from the community and friends alike and went into this weekend dedicating time to spend with friends and family, and when I had a few spare minutes pop up, I might have snuck in a little work for the site.
Shut Up Tony, Its Man Time! What’d You Do?
I played a hellava lot of pool with a hellava lot of people. That’s what. As some of you know, I stumbled into a conversation with a coworker who was wanting to get rid of his pool table that had been in the basement for seven years since he moved to that house, disassembled. He and his wife were wanting to clear the basement out for another use. He just wanted it gone; I obliged him.Embed from Getty Images
Like every new acquisition, the pool table started out as a hot commodity and with my best friend Chris having just prior received Pop’s (his dad, and close enough to my own) old table it wasn’t long before we had a weekly pool night alternating between Man Cave’s with a small handful of friends who came as schedules allowed. Time goes on and life introduces inconveniences that the shiny of something new can no longer distract you from. Pool nights became less frequent and the phrase “lets play pool” was uttered fewer and fewer times when friends came over to hangout until evenings spent around the pool table were reduced to just a couple nights a month, if that.
Without even planning it, that all changed when Cousin Josh (my wife’s cousin actually, who I’ve grown closer to than anyone in my own family) sent me a text early Saturday that his best friend Stephen was in town from Joplin for the day and that they were going to come hang out for a bit. And just like that beers were opened, cue tips were shaped and chalked, and tight racks were broken with the sweet kiss of phenolic resin balls.Embed from Getty Images
The three of us played for several hours, as pool is the perfect “hangout and catch up with friends” activity. Enough action to keep the pace of the evening from stalling, enough downtime to carry on mostly uninterrupted conversation, and a game that allows the player to range from “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” to “I didn’t deflate them, to me those balls are perfect” levels of competitive spirit. We caught up with the goings-on in each other’s lives since we’d last hung out together, mercilessly mocked each other at every opportunity, and in general…just had a good time. Having a long drive home ahead of him Stephen split out in the early evening; with the boys club broken up, the Man Cave was quickly descended on by Mrs. Tony and ours and Cousin Josh’s kids. More pool was played, by adults and kids alike, as the sun set and the night became dark. One by one the children disappeared into their beds but the games of 8-Ball continued into the night until we had finally had our fill and all called it a night.
Sunday rolled around and I had a little late morning time, so I finally flipped open my laptop to do a quick check in on email, Ag, Twitter, etc. All things that take significantly more time these days than they used to. Just as I began to get swept up in the frenzy of Twitter consuming the Antonio Brown trade, I received a text from my number one homie Chris. He and Pops were at Side Pockets and wanted me to come out. I ran it by Mrs. Tony and told them I’d be heading out shortly. Hell, why stop now, right? In a throw back to our former weekly Pool Nights, we shot 8-Ball for a while, then broke out the fistfuls of quarters for Elimination 9-Ball. Receive one quarter from the other players any time you sink the 5-Ball, and two any time to sink the 9-Ball. You play until you bleed the opposition dry. Because pool is more exciting when you play for money, according to Pops, even if its $2.50 in quarters we all started with.Embed from Getty Images
But that is all an aside, to be completely honest with you. I played my usual style of pool: going back and forth between lengthy streaks of absolute pool shark-esque dominance and just flat out embarrassing incompetence behind the the cue ball. There’s no mixing one or the other, and they don’t fade between each other subtly. I’ll mow my opponents down effortlessly game after game after game, and then without warning I will suddenly miss “gimme” shots, find new and innovative ways to scratch and otherwise haplessly stumble through a seemingly infinite number of matchups. Its just my thing, and no amount of effort or adjusted technique seems sufficient to alter the outcome until my game magically reverses unannounced again.
And this is what was rolling around in my mind Sunday as I sat down to draft up a quick Mid-Day thread to bridge the gap between the Huddle and the AAF games and hoped to expand on for Man Time. The game of pool suddenly became an analogy for life, as demonstrated by the sudden swing in my approach to the weekend. When you’re struggling you will try anything to make things better. Sometimes you try even harder to plan and execute your shots but nothing you do seems to make an improvement. Then there are other times when you decide you’re trying to do too much, so you just start taking shots without even lining them up. And that seldom helps get you back on track either.
On the other hand, when things are going well you will seldom find yourself contemplating trying harder or less. In fact, you most likely aren’t thinking anything at all. Because in that moment you are on top of your game and things just fall the way they should. Effortlessly. As though you planned for them to go that way, when often that might not be the case. I suppose you could make a concerted effort to try even harder to line up your shots with care, or to even give less thought to the shot your about to make. I doubt that would have a positive outcome when you’re on your game. In fact, I suspect your performance would suffer. This most likely surprises no one.
The question then becomes, why do we expect all those extraneous changes in approach to have a positive affect when things aren’t going well? The answer is ‘human nature’. We are conditioned to try something different as soon as we experience a result we didn’t expect or plan for. We are terribly obsessed with control; its certainly a fault of my own. But could that need to correct be only compounding the issue by taking us even further off our game, or rather further off our strengths.
Perhaps the best play is to stick to your game, the one you know you can win with, realizing its only a matter of time before you’re back on top again.
Between harsh winds and harsher children at play, we’ve had a few (read: a lot) of slats on the red picket fence around the back yard damaged or fall off. I imagine the fence sports the same 25 years of age as the house, and its certainly coming near to an end of its usable lifespan. But I can eek a couple more years of service out of it with a little elbow grease and time. When discussing the need to repair it Mrs. Tony asked if I had the right kind of nails to fix it or if I’d need to run to the store to get them. As the thought briefly flashed through my mind it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve had a nail gun and small compressor to run it for most likely 10 years when I had once borrowed it from my late father who at the time had already retired and no longer had a use for it. Win.
So I set to mending the felled slats, my 5 year old son Reid in tow. Reid is absolutely infatuated with pretty much the same things I am. Tools, firearms, knives, BBQ, etc. The list goes on. I’m simultaneously proud and terrified. I told him to get his new claw hammer (yes, a real full scale hammer) that he got for his birthday and come give me a hand. So as I went around the fence nailing up lose and fallen slats, Reid followed along hammering the old nails back in that had popped out.
I might not have known my father very well, but there were a few things he was adamant I learned. The first was that you can fix anything yourself. Often you don’t even have to know how. You’ll learn more just by starting a project you’ve never done before in 10 minutes than 10 hours watching a video could teach you. The second was learn how to work with your back so that you won’t want to. He may not have taught me very many lessons in life, but he taught me how to try.
So as my son followed along helping with the fence, I began teaching him my own lessons based on the things that I have learned. As he started to lose interest, I called him over and told him the only thing more important than starting something is finishing it. He hammered nails until it was time to pick up the tools. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the weekend than to be able to tell that story late Sunday night.
$7 Mancave Art
If you decide to turn one of your own jerseys into mancave display glory, please tweet me a pic @AnthonyTa2u.