Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fools' Ball: Tricklers, Robberies, and such

No. Fools' Ball is not a dress up affair.

It doesn't involve jesters and jokers.

It's not about costumes, fans, and corsages.

Fool's Ball is our family's name for Foosball.

The first time I played Foosball was in the 1960s at the first church my family attended in Atlanta, West End Christian Church.

It was in Cascade Heights --- and we left there when I was in elementary school. What I remember about this church is the basement where there were games set up for the youth to play -- one game was Carrom, a wooden box of a game with spinning tops, string, and hardwood pins to knock down --- and another of the games was Foosball.

The table was wood, the men were wood painted yellow or black, and the playing court was green felt. When the ball was hit into the goal, it emerged to a recessed bin on the side. I have no idea where the scoring was -- maybe we used an abacus.


I could never play it well because I was too young and too short, but I loved the wooden thwack noised the game made when the "older boys" made a goal.

Those teenage boys with their suit jackets off, their sleeves rolled up, and their ties loosened, huddled around the game like it was a pool hall, when it was actually just a church fellowship hall ---- some similarities, I guess -- minus the beer and the cigarette smoke.

The next time I saw a Foosball table was in college, and the whole nature of the game had changed -- the table was still wood, but a veneer, and the men were hard plastic in red or blue jerseys, and the plastic nature of the field made this game loud. Plastic men hitting plastic balls and going into plastic goals -- definitely noises of the modern generation. It was a craze -- folks played it for hours and hours and late into the night.

In college, I prided myself on becoming quite the Foosball player. I played defense, which meant I only had to handle three defensive men, as opposed to offense, which had nine. A guy friend of mine and I ended up in the championship round at a local fraternity house playoff. I think we won, but it was a long time ago.

*waves to Shoobie*

I loved the stress level of Foosball -- the sweaty palms, the hard thwack of the ball, the adrenaline pumping, the anticipation of stopping a goal, the jackked up nature of it all -- and of course, the victorious feeling of scoring from the goalie position.


Not a feeling I look for anymore -- any where.

Just sayin'.

I was quicker, younger, and, of course, more able to play that game than I am now.

When my sister ended up with three sons and no daughters, she bought them a Foosball table -- a game they ignored until they were teenagers. When they were young, I would go over there and make them play with me --- so I could show off my college form, but then one Christmas, when all my nephews were teenagers -- I couldn't beat them silly any more. They became competitive, able to play with one hand, and I got "outplayed." I hung in for a few games, but each year, they became better and better and stronger and stronger -- and I went the other way -- you know--- older.


Now the Foosball has morphed into some kind of raucous game at Christmas -- full of teams, tournaments, and yelling from the basement, and appropriately, renamed by my family to "Fools' Ball."

I mosey on down to the basement to play a round or two, but I can't hang any more. I can score here and there, but I can't handle the "level" of competition that it is -- when I have six nephews and two incoming in-laws who are male and stoked to play and win.

This year when I was playing a round or two with the "phews," I said, "I can only play goalie -- the offense is too many men for me to handle."

The phews: *snickers*
Me: This applies only to Foosball.
The phews: [behind their hands with much rolling of their eyes] Whatever, Aunt Harriett.

One night over the holidays, there was an especially wild game of Fool's Ball coming from the basement -- apparently, they made up their own little jargon for the level of Fool's Ball they were playing to much guffawing and yelling -- the kind you might hear at the pool hall or perhaps a sixth grade boys sleepover.

Huddling around the table, they made up names for the types of things that happen during the game.

The next day, I come to my sister's house, and on the dining room table were the remnants of a box, plastic covering, a huge ruler, black electrical tape, scratch paper, and pencils.

From the basement, the sounds of the game -- "thwack" and "thud" and much laughter as I heard one say, "put my score on the board."

These "phews" had taken a white board, some dry erase markers, and made up categories for the types of scores in Foosball, concocted totally out of their delusional, yet humorous minds.

"Estimated pieces of"

That sort of jargon and nonsense.

From now on --- the scoring will be tight and made note of --- and they put my name at the bottom of the board as a kind of.... memorial?

I dunno.

Meanwhile, Fool's Ball is over for this year, but next year, I'm sure it will be louder and full of chortles and jousting about... the object each year will be to score in each category.


And the girls -- what were they doing? They were upstairs -- two levels up --- trying on wedding gowns.

Same noises -- but no thwacking -- just ahhhhhhiiiinnnnggg.


  1. Note: All of the girls were not trying on wedding gowns. Just Nora, the one getting married. They were, however, all ahhhhhiiiinnnggg.

    I felt that this was a needed clarification. ;-)

    There's a fools' ball table at my church too. About 50 steps away from my current position, actually.

  2. Kristy -- but all girls want to try them on? Right? Cuz, well, I got lots of "phews" who need cave women.

    Just sayin'.

  3. But you see, Aunt Harriett, I've been kind of holding out for a British journalist named Jack.

    I could perhaps be persuaded to settle for a faux English accent, a trenchcoat, and a fedora with a pad of paper in the hat band. Perhaps.


  4. Uh, girl, you probably need to update that application to --- an American accent, a hoodie, a baseball cap that blazons "I love my tractor," and a Blackberry.


  5. *sigh* And here I thought I was being concessional.
    How about a trenchcoat, an American accent, a baseball cap (without the tractor on it), and a pencil behind the ear?

  6. *rolls eyes* Good luck with that one, Aunt Harriet. I've been trying for years to start considering American guys. Alas, if there is an American guy that she does happen to like in a movie or a book, he's usually a scoundrel or a cad.

  7. Can I say how much I will never get tired of your family Christmas stories! I have loved everyone of them!!!! And OMG the fact that you got introduced to Foosball in the 60s...yeah girl I have no words ;)


  8. Bwahahahaa!

    My mother was the Neighborhood Foosball Champion when she was a teen, back in Beirut.

    We got her a table two years ago. She kicks our asses though Stone has gotten pretty darn good at beating her.

    It's what we do when we go over. It's brutal. It's crazy. It's so much freaking fun! LOL

    It's the one thing that gets my younger brother off his butt and away from computer/video games.

    We've actually gotten complaints from neighbors when playing "tournaments", we get so loud!

    FOOSBALL!!! Ha!