shuffle board

There’s sweat forming on my brow. It’s 1 in the morning. I’m sliding the cool steel of the shufflepuck back and forth on the table as I contemplate the universe through the haze of Fireball Whiskey. This is life.

I’m at Plug Uglies in Gramercy Park, which is sandwiched between the douchebaggery of the post-college popped collars in Murray Hill and the fading awesomeness of the East Village. Mere moments earlier, I had a disagreement with another bar fly.

The bar fly’s name is Doug. Upon learning his name, we began reminiscing about the Nickelodeon show of his namesake. This led to a discussion of the cartoon Doug’s dog, Porkchop. Specifically Porkchop’s color. As there were a lot of oddly-colored characters, real-life Doug insisted Porkchop was mustard yellow, whereas I maintained that, being part of the Funnie family, he was regular-colored (gray or something). He would not admit being wrong. I know my Nicktoons. Things got heated. There was only one way to truly settle this. On the silicone-bead-sprinkled surface of the shufflepuck field.

Now, if you don’t know shufflepuck (or Table Shuffleboard, as the losers at Wikipedia call it), it’s basically like the old people/cruise people game of shuffleboard, except that it’s played on a table:


That sand-like looking stuff are beads of silicone (which basically is sand, if you wanna get chemical) and helps the pucks (the red and blue things) glide down the table. The goal of this game of champions is to score points by sliding the puck from the opposite end of the table ideally into the 3-point zone at the end. You take turns shuffling the pucks (hence shufflepuck) down the table, so strategy comes with being able to knock your opponent’s puck off the table. Or you put your puck in front of your opponent’s (which negates that puck’s score). As you can see, each player gets 4 pucks, and once all the pucks have been shuffled, that’s a round.

Normally you’d go several rounds until someone scores a 15 or 21 (which is a frame if you care to know), but this being a gentleman’s argument we settled it with East-Cockney rules (that’s not really a thing, just how we played):

  • Disagreeing gentlemen play one round (4 shuffles each)

  • A game of rochambeau* decides who shuffles first

  • If a player’s puck is knocked completely off of the table, that player must do a shot of Fireball Whiskey (and not bitch about it’s smooth cinnamony taste). This includes knocking off your own puck

  • The puck must completely cross the line to be considered in a specific point-zone

In a magnificent double-rocks-fake, I win the rochambeau and am allowed to go first. I sprinkle the customary extra little bit of silicone on the table to appease the shufflepuck gods, and proceed to sling my puck all the way down the table. It flies off and hits the table’s wall with a heart-sinking “THWACK!” It’s cool, I say, I’m just getting a feel for the table. I take my obligatory shot.

Doug, having seen the speed of this table, undershuffles his first puck. It creeps, and lands on the line between 1 and 2 points. I calmly mention that this being East-Cockney rules, he will only be awarded one point. He respectfully disagrees, but concedes (we yell at each other for a couple of minutes). The score is 0-1.

I shuffle my second puck out with blood intent. By that I mean I’m trying to knock his puck off so his stupid face has to do a stupid shot. But still being wary of the speed of the table, I too undershuffle, and end up nearly knocking his puck off the table, but ultimately just pushing it all the way into the 2-point zone. Son of a nutracker! The score is now 1-2.

Having seen my aggresive play, Doug tries to counter. He sends a puck directly into mine, but he ends up knocking my puck into his 2-pointer, which causes it to fall off the puck. Redemption! He does a shot. It’s 2-1.

At this point we’ve reached halftime. This is not an actual thing, but we’re kinda drunk and we need to pee, so we take a bathroom break, refresh our beers, and in a cunning bit of strategy I load the jukebox in my favor (i.e. lots of En Vogue, from which I draw strength).

We pick back up. I decide to shift strategy and focus on points. I release a ‘beaut of a shuffle, slight bit of spin on the puck…that doesn’t make it past the 1-point mark. The score’s now 3-1.

Doug’s starting to feel the board too, and sends a magnificent shuffle (I’ll admit it, albeit begrudgingly) the length of the board for 3 points. The score’s now tied at 3-3 (his 1-point puck is now negated because it’s behind my pucks).

Down to my final puck. I’m not the best when it comes to being clutch. Specifically in sports. Specifically when I’ve been drinking. Which is why I decide that I’ll break up his 1-pointer and my 2-pointer with a zinger. It’s a great shot, hits exactly the mark that I was going for, but knocks both his and my pucks off. We both do a shot. Because of my recklessness, it’s now 2-3 (there’s a lesson in there, kids!).

At this point Doug realizes he’s won. He doesn’t need to do anything. So while Never Gonna Get It is playing, he casually slings his puck diagonally, avoiding all pucks and falling off the table, warranting a final victory shot. I join him with a congratulatory shot. It’s the gentleman’s way of losing.

As it turns out, while I technically lost the battle, I ultimately won (upon Googling, we see Porkchop is absolutely gray-colored). None of this really matters, though, because at this point we are both drunk and don’t really remember why we started playing the game. And that, my friends, is the true beauty of this most-honorable sport.

*That’s Rocks, Paper, Scissors for you uneducated folk

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