Imaginary Pétanque

​Here is some fun stuff from Jim Schwobel!

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Here is a short story that I wrote for LBC. Perhaps it will serve as a moment's entertainment for the members during this extraordinary time in our lives?

Imaginary Pétanque

Since we are all sheltering in place, only going out for groceries, I had the idea of creating an imaginary pétanque game that might serve as a substitute for actually playing. Perhaps it will help satiate everyone’s cravings until we meet again. Perhaps LBC members will want to add your creativity?

Speaking of grocery shopping…my last trip to HEB was over two weeks ago. I usually go about once a week but since we Americans have large refrigerators, that allowed me to buy a bit more of some items without feeling like I was hoarding. With existing items in my cupboard, I should be able to avoid shopping for another couple of weeks and with a little creativity, I can go a couple weeks more. However, near the end, I’ll be eating the small packets of ketchup and the jar of maraschino cherries that has been at the back of my cupboard for who-knows-how long. I don’t know how long because they came from an era before manufacturers had to include “best used by” dates in their packaging. 

Back to the imaginary game…We were fortunate that there were exactly 6 of us at the Historic Browning Hangar on a Saturday night and we started with the usual sorting processes you know so well: placing 1 boule each and the cochonnet inside a circle. I wanted to avoid the usual cumbersome task of collecting the boules/cochonnet in my hands and tossing them – so I just kicked everything. Awful mistake wearing sandals. I broke my big toe and on the way to the ground, I caught the plastic ring with both feed and broke it in two places (the ring two places, my big toe one place). The damaged ring also struck the cochonnet, knocking it about 10 meters from the scattered group of boules so we had to find a long tape measure to determine relative boule distances and resulting teams. Time passed.

After the customary confusion of determining teams, caused by most of us picking up our own boule before finding our partners, some of whom had wandered off to the wine table, and which team would start the game, we decided to use the traditional coin flip. No one had any change in their pockets so we fanned out in the Hangar to search the ground for any coin lost at last week’s Farmers’ Market. Finally, a penny was found. This was the first (and time would prove, the last) good luck we had as you know, pennies are hard to see being of similar color to the crushed granite surface.

Let the game begin…On his first shot,  Amine’s boule broke in half so recognizing what an advantage it would be, my team insisted he play the rest of the game with the larger of the two halves. Citing some “official” rule we insisted was in the rule book and since no one had a copy of the rules, we won that debate. He continued to shoot better than 90% with that boule (piece).

On one end, Amine shot the cochonnet (with his hemispheric boule), and against all odds, the cochonnet broke in half! No one had a substitute cochonnet so we played with the Larger half because Marie-Claude’s dog found the smaller piece and promptly ate it. We wanted to take up a collection for the anticipated vet bill but as you will remember, no one had any change.

The game continued until mercifully, we were forced to relinquish the Hangar to the Farmers’ Market vendors who arrived to set up their booths. Yes, it was now mid-Sunday morning.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. You are invited to exercise your creative juices (mine have run dry) and add events to this imaginary game.

Jim Schwobel

LBC members are encouraged to insert your own "recollections" of this game below.

  • Thanks, Jim, for your entertaining commentary. I just want y’all to know I’m shooting at 95% while social distancing. Watch out when we can play together again! Y’all stay safe.

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