SIX of WANDS – and a lifetime supply of Shirley Temples


When I was about 9 years old, my family used to hang out at a the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mom and aunt were both dating members. It was a little random, looking back, but really fun. It was 1980. The Urban Cowboy, that terribly sexist and terribly popular movie about bull riding, Gilly’s bar, and oh yeh – domestic violence, had just come out, and the soundtrack was extremely popular in our neck of the woods. I loved when I would go to the Eagles with my mom. Her gentleman friend would give me quarters for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, country-ridden jukebox, buy me Shirley Temples, and I’d play pool with my brothers. I regularly wore my cowboy hat with the roach clipped feathers hanging off and hat pins all over the front. I wanted to be like Sissy’s friend, Jessie in the movie. She was butch and bad-ass, and didn’t take shit from nobody. Coincidentally, there was also a butch named Jessie who hung out at the Eagles at the time. I was in awe of her. The two Jessies have nothing to do with this story, but they sure had something to do with my roots of queerdom.

One day, my oldest brother called our other brother (I was/am the youngest), and told him to bring me to the Eagles right away. I didn’t know what was up, but when we got there, I learned there was an adult mixed doubles pool tournament and that there was a guy named Leo whose partner didn’t show up. He needed a female partner and well since I was considered that at the time, and according to my brother, not a half-bad pool player, I was who they came up with –
9 year old me in an adult mixed doubles pool tournament. I was pretty nervous and excited and had the impression from my partner who I just met, that we were just going to have fun and that he would coach me through the tournament.

I won’t drag this out with a play-by-play, mostly because I don’t remember the play-by-play. Here’s what I do remember. Leo coached me, I played my heart out, and we won that pool tournament! It was just like a movie. The crowd went wild, I was lifted up in the air and carried around the bar, an old lady blessed me with the sign of the cross (no kidding), I got my first trophy ever (even after 3 years of soccer under my belt), I won $40 (wasn’t that worth like $400 back then?), I got a victory t-shirt that was 10 sizes too big for me, someone bought me a new eagle pin for my hat, and I was rich with all the Shirley Temples I could drink for the rest of the afternoon. It was AWESOME!

After that, I was the young star of the FOE. Every time I showed up, I was patted on the back and had my non-alcoholic drinks covered, and Urban Cowboy jukebox songs paid for. I entered two tournaments after that – one kids tournament and one adult/child tournament. I didn’t win either, but that was ok. I had the most awesome victory ever in that adult mixed doubles tournament, and no one could ever take that moment away from me.

The SIX of WANDS is about a moment of victory and public recognition that should be savored and stored to fuel us in times when we aren’t so victorious. Soak up this moment and battle on.


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