Steve, a 34-year-old with a crewcut and pale skin that looks like it's been glazed a couple times with Crisco, blows some blue dust off the tip of a pool cue. He lines up the eight ball, hits the cue ball off-center, and scratches.
"That," he says, "was my unluckiest moment."
Nearby, a shorter, scrawnier guy with eyes as black as a hamster's beams with confidence as he retrieves the eight ball and asks Steve to cough up 20 bucks.
Scully's Tavern: 9809 Sunset Dr., Kendall; 305-271-7404; http://www.scullystavern.com/
"How about one more game?" Steve asks, wiping the corners of his mouth with the collar of his yellowish wifebeater. "Double or nothing."
Without hesitation, Hamster Eyes agrees. He grabs a triangle, racks 'em up, and breaks. Balls scatter in all directions, but nothing drops.
Steve then quickly sinks three solids in a row.
"My luckiest moment was way back in the day," he says, leaning over the green felt. "I was probably 15 or 16 and I was riding my bike down the street when I saw in the distance what looked like a big box of magazines and videos. As I passed it, I spotted something and quickly turned around. It was a gift from the gods: a big box of porn that I still have to this day. It's pretty much the only reason I own a VCR."
Then he walks around the table and pops in the three and seven balls. "Or maybe this is the luckiest moment," he says with a sly smile, wiping the corners of his mouth again.
The logo on the menu at Scully's Tavern (9809 Sunset Dr., Kendall; 305-271-7404), where Steve cleared the table, includes a leprechaun with a four-leaf clover tucked into his hat. And this friendly neighborhood Irish pub had the good fortune to recently appear on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which ran a segment on Scully's potato-chip-crusted dolphin sandwich. "Before we were featured on the show, we sold maybe 25 of these sandwiches," says Joey Kernisky, a bartender who, complete with furry arms, resembles a shorter and quite possibly more jittery Robin Williams. "The week after the show aired, we sold, like, 900."
So when was the last time Joey was kissed by kismet?
"I'm a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, so when Sean Taylor unfortunately died here in Miami, I was fortunate enough to attend his funeral."
Outside, a group of smokers lounges on wooden benches while staring at soon-to-be customers who run from their parked cars into the bar, trying to avoid a brewing storm. One of them is Katie, a perky, ponytailed 31-year-old blonde in striped leggings, who bugs out her blue eyes and thanks "lady luck" for her right hand. "I was about 9. Me and a friend were at Monkey Jungle, feeding the monkeys. Back then, at least, you could feed most of them, but there were signs on some of the cages that prohibited it. My friend was ignoring the signs that said 'Don't Feed' or something like that, and even fed a baboon! Those things scared the shit out of me, but the black monkeys in the cage next to the baboons didn't. They looked almost exactly like these white monkeys you were allowed to feed. So I offered one a peanut. He grabbed it from my hand, threw it on the ground, showed his fangs, and tried to pull my hand into his mouth! I was frozen in fear, but thankfully my friend pried me off the cage."
And in typical monkey-see, monkey-do fashion, Katie's friend Selena — a chubby brunette with long, wavy hair; a freckled nose; and a cherry tattooed on her wrist — remembers a brush with prosperity. "I was in Barcelona with a couple of friends. I had only gambled once before, so I was still pretty naive. We went to a casino and, being a ditzy American, I got a bucket and filled it maybe a fourth of the way up with what I assumed were quarters. So I just went ahead and started playing the slots. And out of nowhere, one of the machines I was on went kind of nuts. All these lights were going off and tons of quarters came pouring out. I put them in my bucket and moved on to the slot machine next to me, put one quarter in, and that machine went even crazier. Suddenly my bucket was completely filled.
"By the time everyone wanted to leave, I had gambled away more than half of my bucket. When I cashed out, it suddenly dawned on me that I was gambling euros, not quarters, and had actually won, like, $200. If I had cashed out earlier, who knows how much I would've had! I felt like a moron."
In Scully's poolroom, a beefy guy in an Ed Hardy tee greets a small Latina with a kiss on the cheek and a slick little squeeze of the nalgas.
"Ever get lucky?" I ask the two of them.
Raquel, the 28-year-old recipient of the double-cheek greet, claims in her very squeaky voice that she has crappy karma. But her grandparents, she says, had great luck when they first moved here from Cuba: "They were broke, so they had to live in a really ghetto neighborhood and moved into a place where my grandmother kept on getting this strange feeling, like someone was following her all the time. Lights would flicker in the night, and there were spots in the house that were always very cold. Soon they found out that an old man had died in the house. My grandmother also learned he was a gardener who was obsessed with flowers. So one day she filled the entire house with bouquets of flowers she found around their yard. That night, a ghost thanked her in a dream.
"Soon my grandparents had a string of good luck and within a year were able to save up $10,000 to open their own business."
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Raquel's boyfriend, Raul de Douchebag, once had a pretty unique good-luck charm: a purple lace thong. "Back when I wrestled in college, I lost a bet to one of my friends, and the result was that I had to wear a thong under my uniform during a match. Which I did and ended up kicking my opponent's ass. So the match after that, I decided to try the thong on again, and whooped that bitch as well. I had such good luck when wearing that thong that I would wear it when I went out clubbing and would get girls' numbers and hook up left and right."
Raquel blushes and then chugs half a beer.
"But that thing backfired on me one day. I wore it during a match, and won again, but the next day I discovered a weird circle on my chin. Ends up I got ringworm from one of the mats. After that, I threw out the thong. I don't like to waste my time with anything that doesn't benefit me."
And as I catch Raul casually brushing his fingers against Raquel's left boob, all I can think is, Good luck with that one, hon.