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Pool tables good for those who want danger

Looking for adventure? Like to live on the edge? Want to be the first on your block to wake up in the middle of a nightmare screaming, “Eeaauugh! Eeaauugh!”

You can have all that and more if, like me, you rid your living room of furniture, give everything to your daughters, and buy a pool table.

But first a warning — pool tables don’t come to your home in one piece. They arrive from third-world countries in several packages, each weighing hundreds of pounds and containing more than 600 items including screws the size of infant guppies, which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

And of course, one of the packages will become lost in the skies over Zaire.

To help you along in this adventure you’ll get a put-it-together-yourself-clumsily manual with missing pages and weird syntax translated from Sanskrit. It offers a word of caution: “Do not attempt to assemble this pool table if you have memory loss, baldness, ingrown toenails, or tired blood. Consult your family physician first, or at least talk to a minister or a friendly bartender, depending on your religion.”

I won’t say the hurdle of pool table assembly can’t be overcome, but it’s been featured several times on TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries.”

But let me get into the awesome nitty-gritty.

On the first page of the instruction manual it said, “Some smaller parts may be shipped inside larger parts,” which meant if automobiles were shipped the same way and had the same instruction book author, their manuals would read, “Some smaller parts like universal joints and steering wheels may be shipped inside larger parts like engines.”

The manual said it was important to build my new pool table in a location that was permanent. No changing my mind about where I wanted it once I started. Storms, pestilence, and millenniums may come and go, but after my home is reduced to an historic footnote, that pool table will still be there.

Anthropologists in the year 4000 will probably come across it and say, “Wonder why they put this sacrificial altar way out here in the lonesome desert? Quite a feat for people who hadn’t invented gravity yet.”

Then came a dire warning that said, “To ensure safety, do not attempt to assemble system without reading instructions carefully. A high probability of serious injury exists if you flunked the second grade.”

But I exaggerate a trifle, including a list of tools I needed to build my pool table — two hammers (claw and ball peen), needle nose pliers, screwdrivers of various types, putty knife, tape measure, sanding block, sandpaper (80 grit), awl, scissors, open-ended wrenches (I bought a whole set), carpenter’s level, rachet set, and a partridge in a pear tree. Cost exceeded $200.

Then came another warning: “Be sure your floor can withstand this kind of weight. If your floor sags, you may be hit in the eye by a charging ball on the down slope.”

Well, it went on and on like that. On Page 3 it said, “If you can find them, open hardware kits and sort into like groups using the hardware identifier provided in this manual.” The identifier included drawings of 492 parts by actual count. They were screws and nails, washers, bolts, locknuts, partridges, and some weird things I can only describe as “other stuff.”

A small note said, “One of every item is included,” which set me back two days because when I finished, I had a washer, two locknuts, and a partridge left over.

After a week of not answering the phone and crying myself to sleep at night, I finished assembling my new pool table, and it was beautiful. Of course, some of the pockets were easier to hit than others because of a slight incline to the west, but that only added zest to my billiard game by providing me with a useful handicap.

I don’t say it’s necessary for everyone to have the adventure of building his own pool table in his living room, but I will say I can laugh now that it’s over. I laugh because I have the only six-sided pool table in the country. If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

It came to my attention after all was said and done that the city of Portales once had an ordinance outlawing pool tables, and I agree.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.