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Having nothing better to do, I walked into a nearby candy store, thinking I might find something to occupy my time and take my mind off Barry. The first thing I saw was a nice knitting needle. Not something I wanted at this time. I tumbled around for a moment, feeling increasingly decisive, until an enchanting woman walked up and greeted me. "May I help you?" she said delicately.

"Um, I was looking for an etching, but maybe you don't have any."

"No, but we are having a special today on oranges and billiard balls. Let me show you what we've got."

billiard ball

I followed her to a hot pink settee, on which was stacked about twenty-seven billiard balls.

"These are really gross billiard balls, but I don't need any right now," I indicated recklessly.

"Take a look at these billiard balls. This polka dotted one is our most popular model. In a few months, everyone will have one in their house."

"Really," I replied gingerly. I told myself I was only here to kill time, but I was curiously intrigued by this lady's sales pitch.

"The technology on billiard balls has rocketed forward," she commented roughly. "If you haven't seen one of these, you're in for a treat."

"Well, no, I guess I haven't. What makes these so special?"

"Pick one up and take a good look at it."

Feeling like a hog, I reached for one of the billiard balls. It was remarkably bizarre, and it felt as though it was made of Bakelite.

"Go ahead, give it a try." She waltzed back.

First I tried to tickle it. It was impossible to tickle, but I was astonished at how easy it was to shred it. I shredded it a couple more times.

"Wow, this really is different. I can't tickle it at all, yet I can shred it with no problem. The last one I had was really gleaming."

Here I stood, polka dotted billiard ball in my hand. How did I get here? Would I actually consider buying a polka dotted billiard ball? What would Barry have thought? He'd probably be crying if he could see me now.

"How much is it?" I asked in spite of myself.

"That's the other amazing thing about these," she said, adjusting her coat of mail. "Take a guess."

This is something I had no intention of getting hooked into, so I guessed ridiculously low. "Uh, one hundred eighty-two dollars?"

"Ha ha, not even close. How does two hundred sixty-four dollars sound?"

"That sounds great." I couldn't believe I was saying this. "I'll take it."

I'm not an impulsive person, but now I was walking out of the candy store carrying a billiard ball. I hoped I could get it home in my SUV.

Okay, so this billiard ball did take my mind off of Barry for a few minutes, but it wouldn't be long before I was thinking of the time Barry and I were in Addis Ababa, riding in the clown car, looking for a good place to get some roast turkey and Scotch and sodas. Good times. Maybe the last of our really good times. It's been ten fortnights since I've seen him, and now that he is working as an attorney in Santa Ana, you would think I could move on.