Running the Table
An Essayby Frank Conroy
When I was fifteen and living in New York City, I was supposed to be going to Stuyvesant High School, and in fact I did actually show up three or four times a week, full of gloom, anger, and adolescent narcissism. The world was a dark place for me in those days. I lived in a kind of tunnel of melancholy, constantly in trouble at home, in school, and occasionally with the police (pitching pennies, sneaking into movies, jumping the turnstile in the subway, stealing paperback books—fairly serious stuff in that earlier, more innocent time). I was haunted by a sense of chaos, chaos within and chaos without. Which is perhaps why the orderliness of pool, the Euclidean cleanness of it, so appealed to me. The formality of pool struck me as soothing and reassuring, a sort of oasis of coolness, utterly rational and yet not without its elegant little mysteries. But I’m getting ahead of myself.