Finding a New Family For the Holidays

Barry Humphries, creator of Dame Edna Everage, was fond of saying that when it comes to Holiday gatherings it should always be “Family Last.”

He makes a good point.

As the year comes to a close, many of us are made weary by declarations from retiring corporate executives and professional sports figures who say they want to” spend more time with families.” This not only rings false, but is often blatantly transparent. No, they want to keep their jobs or find better ones…but they’ve been given the sack and they’re now damaged goods. Their families may endure them, but will hardly be willing to embrace them for too long.

That’s when it’s time to consider spending more time at Family Billiards in San Francisco. This is one of the last remaining old school pool halls in the nation. There’s a juke box and a lunch counter, but the place is really all about pool. Their seventeen tables are kept in good shape, and most of the cues racked on the walls are OK, too.

And hey, it’s opened for Christmas.

Despite its moniker, this is not about family. That is unless everyone in your family is 18 years or older. You won’t find baby strollers clogging the entrance or children running amok among the tables. Your sulking teenage progeny is not likely to find a refuge here either. No, this is one of the rare venues designed for adults seeking quiet adult pleasures and companionship.

Fast Eddy Felsom, as played by Paul Newman in the film classic, “The Hustler” had it right when he noted that pool halls should be “quiet…like a church.”

A couple of ancient TVs mounted above the beer station provide the gentle hush of sports programs as background ambience, but for the most part, Family is serene during the day. At nightfall the juke box is sometimes played until the wee hours of 4 a.m., but we are long gone by then anyway. Our next destination, The Occidental Cigar Club.