When I was entering adolescence, in search of a self I was still chasing, a film came out called The Colour of Money, which was a sequel to a nineteen-sixty film, The Hustler, already starring Paul Newman and also about sticks, balls and, above all, billiards.
Twenty-five years later came this sequel, commissioned by a branch of Disney for Scorsese, who was in a bad way psychologically, up to his eyeballs in coke. But even at his worst, the guy was capable of delivering a film that surpassed many others, and this one was a revelation for me. It was the second film I'd seen from the director in which he had Tom Cruise under control.
So I went to the cinema, to the first showing on a Wednesday, without suspecting that I was going to come out of it all dazed and bewitched by the art of billiards. As soon as I saw the light of day again, I was desperate to find myself a Balabushka, the Stradivarius of billiard cues, the top of the range, the star of the film with Cruise and Newman. It was the only thing I had my eyes on. The problem was, I had to find two thousand francs and at thirteen it was hard to get that kind of money. So in the evenings, after school, instead of going home to read Zola or Stendhal, I started going to a billiards club near the Place de Clichy. When I realised that you had to be at least of legal age and preferably a man, I put on a disguise to look older and put my breasts forward so that the guy at the entrance wouldn't make a fuss about letting me in. Inside, I got my bearings by carefully observing the people playing. There was a monastery atmosphere in the afternoon before, from nine o'clock onwards, it became more relaxed, aided by the dozens of half-pints being served.
One day, when a gambling partner didn't turn up for an appointment, one of the players handed me a cue so that I could finally prove myself. There was money at stake. Money I didn't have, which he advanced me and which I lost. I did the same thing for a month. The sums were small and I told my parents it was to pay for chocolate. When the players got used to seeing me there every day and I showed them that I could be a perfectly honourable filler, I was accepted at all the tables and that's when I started betting more heavily. Little did they know that I had meticulously studied the right angles to get all the balls in and that I had used up all the VHS tapes of world billiards competitions so that I could beat them to the punch. I tore open the envelopes from birthdays and Christmases past so that I could bet more and more, within my limits and down to the last penny to finally set up my scam, deploying a clear, limpid, clean game, like Eddie Felson. Unfortunately my plan never quite worked because the fairer I played, the better they played and I lost all my savings. Plus some of my sister's and my parents'. Until one day I tried my luck by betting an insane amount, which I lost and had to pay on the spot. Without a penny to my name, my opponent took me home and demanded that my dejected father give me all the money I owed him or he'd cut off both my hands. After that, I was banned from going out for three years until I found a husband willing to marry me and get me out of the family bunker.
That's why this magnificent boot is called Felson.