Good Girls Don't Play Pool

In Country Girl at Heart, I mentioned that as a kid, I often went to work with my mom, who was a bartender.  In every bar that my mom worked, there were two constants: a jukebox and pool table.  I was fascinated by both.

I started playing pool at a very young age.  I could barely see over the top of the pool table, but that didn't stop me from playing.  From my earliest memories of playing pool at the age of four up until I was ten years old, there wasn't a day that I didn't play pool.

Just before my eleventh birthday, I went to live with my grandparents.  But my pool playing days didn't end there.  My grandparents had a membership to a campground in the mountains, where we spent every weekend camping.  The campgrounds had swimming pools, a play ground, miniature golf and a clubhouse/lodge.  My favorite of all was the clubhouse because there were two pool tables; one for the kiddies and another for the grown-ups.  I got to play on both.

When it came to playing pool, I was pretty good.  False modesty aside, I was really good.  I played both eight-ball and nine-ball.  I could call my shots, if that's what my opponent wanted.  I could shoot right-handed, left-handed and even behind my back.

In High School, my best guy friend and I would go shoot a couple of games of pool after school at the nearby bowling alley.  And my BFF (best friend forever) and I would play when I visited her at the community center where she worked.

There wasn't anything I loved as much as playing pool.

And then I grew up and got married.  The only time I got to play pool was when Hubby and I would visit my grandparents in the mountains.

One of my most memorable visits to the mountains was during my suegra's first trip to the U.S.  My grandparents really wanted my suegra to see their mountain getaway and since Hubby was stuck working that day, my suegra and I went with my brother-in-law, who was living with us at the time.  The five of us were chatting about how nice the weather was in the mile-high mountains, when my brother-in-law spotted the pool table.  Immediately he asked if I wanted to play and I happily accepted.

I've never been one to pretend I didn't know how to play, unless I was hustling someone, so I played to the best of my abilities for all four games.  All the while, my grandfather was making the weirdest of faces.  He looked like he was either going to sneeze or have a stroke.  When I asked him about it, he just mumbled and said that he was fine.  It wasn't until we were alone, sans mother-in-law and cuñado, that he told me I shouldn't have played so well.  Then, just as we were about to leave, Pappy hit me with a tidbit of information that left me anonadada (shocked, stunned and speechless).
"Mija, a los mexicanos no les gusta que las mujeres juegen billar.  No es un juego para mujeres decentes como tu."  (Translation: Mija, Mexicans don't think women should play pool.  It's not a game for decent women like you.)
WHAT?!  Are you kidding me?  It was 1995, hadn't they heard of the sexual revolution and equality of the sexes?  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  My grandparents had raised me with their old-fashioned Mexican values, but not once did they ever say anything about playing pool.  They enjoyed playing almost as much as I did.

On the way home, I sat in the back of my brother-in-law's car wondering if my suegra thought less of me as a person because I could play pool.  And I worried about what she would think if she learned I was also a pro at card games.  (My mom worked as a card dealer at Circus Circus when I was 5.)

My suegra has never, to this day, said anything about that fateful day.  And I've never asked her about it.  But I have brought this subject up with Hubby on more than one occasion, especially since moving to Mexico.  (Note: Hubby doesn't have a problem with women playing pool.)  

Now, if you're wondering if after 15 years, people still think this way, the answer is YES!  Atleast in my pueblito

All over my small town, you can find little hole-in-the-wall pool halls.  Every time I walk by a billar, I wish I could shoot a game of pool.  But sadly, I can't.  These establishments are where "unsavory" characters hang out to drink, smoke and play pool.  No girls allowed.  Especially "decent" women such as myself.  Just to give you an idea of how bad of a reputation billares have, none of the men I know would be caught dead in one.  Billares are nothing like the honky-tonk bars I grew up in, nor are they anything like the trendy nightclubs in town, which cater to a younger and hipper crowd and don't have pool tables.

Sometimes I just can't believe that there isn't a place where I, a married mom of four, can go to shoot a game of pool here in town.  And that people think of pool as something so taboo.

What do you think? 

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34 comments:

  1. Don't come to Honduras. Even in the big city, good girls don't play pool. We can swim in pools! That's it!

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  2. Wow! I'm like, "pool, really???" I thought it would be something much more taboo. That is very sad that you can't play pool anywhere near your home. In some ways I get it and in others not. Ok, so the bad rep guys hang there, I get why "good girls" should stay clear, but seriously...not one pool hall for the "decent" folk? That is a shame! I'm with you...it's no fair!!! Especially, being an awesome pool player...that's something to show off! ;) Dang!

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  3. It is pretty much the same way here; but seeing that I am really bad at most sport type things it doesn't matter to me.
    Sorry that you can't play anyway and enjoy something that you like and are good at.
    No I don't think it is fair.

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  4. yeah, I've seen those billares in Mex where only guys can play. We used to go to a coffee/bar place that had a pool table and "maquinitas", that's they only place where I've seen girls playing pool in Mexico. On another note, how cool that you know how to play pool!!! maybe you should buy your own pool table!

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  5. I learned that lesson on my first trip to Mexico (Durango). We walked by a pool hall and my friend told me how women were not allowed to go in. Someone once told me Mexico is 50 years behind. More like 100 years when it comes to women's rights.

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  6. How cool that you were able to play pool at a coffee/bar place! :) My dream would be to have my own pool table, but we don't have the room for one, nor do we have the money! :P

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  7. Same here! All we can do is swim in pools! :P

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  8. Yup, you've definitely been eavesdropping on my conversations of late. Driving home from San Francisco on Sunday, we were talking about all the culture shock I was going to get. We each have our own personal pool cue that we bought each other for birthday. The conversation started with him asking me if I would care if he went out a lot when he first gets back to Mexico, etc. I said not at all, as long as it is someplace that I would be welcome to join him. Then his response was, well what if it's someplace that you're not allowed. My reply, well then honey, it's not somewhere you need to be either! He said that the only women in the pool halls are p***'s there for the men so no outside women. This is at least the case in Zirandaro, backwoods Guerrero. I hope things are a little different in Tlaxcala or we won't be able to go make our weekly bets, lol.

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  9. Hope you find a place where you can play pool in the near future. I've never thought of pool in that way, and don't have a problem with women playing the game, but now that you mention it, I do recall having heard family members tell females in our family the same thing. I guess I never thought about it... and believe me you don't want to play in those billares de mala muerte! Te lo digo yo :-)

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  10. So sorry to disappoint. My taboo post was about pool! LOL I'm in the same boat as you. I understand why I can't go into a billar, but I don't understand why playing pool is off limits to women. Inquiring minds want to know. :)

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  11. For real! I want an answer! LOL. But really, a shame you can't show some of those guys up! That would be fun! ;)

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  12. I think some pool halls get the same rap here- but not to that extent. Look at the movies where there are pool tables. They are usually pretty seedy. ie gangs/mafia in the back and people cracking others over the head with pool cues.
    That being said- hubby got a pool table as payment for some work and he had it shipped down to Mexico earlier this year and who knows what he wants to do with it. I guess he could have a business or there would be his cousins and uncles over playing all the time. Of course there would be drinking and smoking as they do when hanging around each other. I'll have to ask hubby about this since his family lives in DF. We dont live there but throw the idea around all the time.

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  13. I grew up in a similar way. I learned how to play standing on a milk crate in a bar. It is hard to believe in this day and age there are still such odd misconceptions about women and pool. Maybe you should start a club house for kids, older kids, like some of the Boys and Girls clubs have here in U.S. and put in a pool table. You could teach pool and equality at the same time!
    Nice post!

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  14. It's the same in Veracruz. I'm not a great pool player, but I enjoy it, however I would never go into the billares in Mexico. Neither would hubby. They are sketchy. Just buy yourself a table for your home.

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  15. I used to like to play pool but these local billar halls only look like a place to get in trouble. I'll pass

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  16. My grandmother taught me how to play pool, right in the rec room of her house! In my neighborhood is a pool hall that is always empty during the day. One time as I passed by, I asked the owner if I could come by sometime and play. She said "Sure, any time." I never took her up on it.

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  17. You hustled people? THAT IS SO COOL!!

    I say you buy a pool table... and a big game room to fit it in haha

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  18. Oh, and I've played pool at a bar here in Cancun... no funny looks, but it was a decent bar :)

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  19. Same thing in Melaque. Lots of pool halls. All filled with men. But, it does not stop there. In our village, the guys can strip down as far as they like in the ocean (to their underwear if they dare), but the local girls swim in their shorts and blouses. The local heads wag when the Guadalajara girls show up in their daring two piece suits.

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  20. Pool? Wow, i had no idea....... I think you need to open a women's only pool bar.........hahhaa!!!! I understand how some things go in Mexico though. I remember when visiting once, i went for a walk with my sobrinas. When we got back, una hermana del Mexicano came running out side diciendo el mexicano quiere hablar contigo. I went inside and he asked me, where did you go? I was worried, I told him i went for a walk around the little pueblito and all was cool. When i went back outside with the sobrinas they asked me si el mexicano me castigaron......... I was in shock! I know things can be different in other countries, but one by one we can change the way people view women and their rights, So, i'm voting for you to open your own "Women's only" pool hall! =)

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  21. well, you can certainly find places here in DF that welcomes female pool players. in fact, i often seen young women and men socializing together at the pool halls. wonder how many more years it'll take for it to trickle down to the pueblitos??

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  22. Very wise decision! :)

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  23. I think you should go live somewhere else in Mexico! LOL!.... wherever I lived there I never found "billares" that were good for women "like us" but... there are some restaurants (family restaurants) with pool tables where kids and women play too! (that's at least in Tamaulipas) I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that those cities are so close to the USA... who knows... I think Monterrey, N.L. has places like that too! ;) - very interesting about your suegra.... I must admit I was quite "shocked" too when I saw a girlfriend play pool really great.... and I even wondered why I felt so "shocked" .... cultural stuff! huh?

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  24. I grew up playing pool too. We had a table in our basement. I was pretty good, though not as good as you are! :) Anyway, I think it's silly that playing pool should be such a taboo thing for women in Mexico. Maybe you guys can get one for your home someday! :) What would Suegra think then?

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  25. I think a woman playing pool, and doing well with it, is HOT! (which is a good thing in my book)

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  26. Fabulous post! I wish so many times that I could walk in and play pool (with the Senor of course, he is so good and we could really make some extra $$$), but yes, taboo for Senoras...maybe you will get a pool table someday???

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  27. Leslie this is such a great story. I love to hear about you growing up. Sams club here in Guad has those smaller tables. Maybe you all should just save up and buy a little table to put in your house. And visit us when you come buy it of course.

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  28. Oh and I think they thing its unladylike like because your putting your pumpas int he air when you bend over to play. ;)

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  29. Oh and Lesli there is a brand new bowling ali in Tepa (where no one knows you) And upstairs they have pool tables, and every time we went to play pool their were other girls playing there. You and hubby should take the kids there so you can play some time.

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  30. jajaja i shocked my future suegros by beating everyone playing 'siete y media' and 'con quien', and taking their money. So still in the US, latina girls don't play cards or bet, even for feria!

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  31. That's terrible. I agree with some of the people here - consider buying a pool table. I know that brand new they're extremely expensive but maybe you could find a used one? Good luck! It's just awful that in this day and age there's still things "good girls" aren't allowed to do.

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  32. Maybe Juanita would be willing to sell the pool table in DF....

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  33. We had a pool table and a swimming pool growing up, which made us one of the "cool" houses to hang out at. I haven't played pool for years though. If I really loved it and lived in Mexico, I think the fact that it's so forbidden would make me want to do it even more. LOL. I'd walk in there confidently, play a game or two and then leave without apology.... Or you could have some fun and dress up like a man? ROFL... I'm kind of kidding. It would be tempting though.... Maybe you should buy a pool table and build a small room onto your home - a lady's billiards bar... No men allowed ;)

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  34. Wow! I never knew that! My parents are from Mexico and they have never mentioned this. Maybe because the subject of me playing pool has been brought up. I have played it although I'm definitely not good at it :(

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