Singled out with Jenny McCarthy
By Kieran Darcy
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- I guess my editors figured I deserve a reward. A few weeks ago, I agreed to dance with a group of 300-pound fat men during a tryout to become a Chicago Bulls Super Fan. Then, last Wednesday, one of them called me with another assignment.

"Wanna play pool tomorrow against Jenny McCarthy?"

Um ... YEAH!

Jenny McCarthy
The A Team's honorary captain -- and one fiesty babe.
The former Playmate and co-host of MTV's Singled Out was in town for an event sponsored by Goldschlager, the cinnamon schnapps liqueur with golden flakes in it. (Tasty stuff, though I did have an ugly night with it in college.) Goldschlager has put together an "A Team" -- composed of professional billiards player Jennifer Baretta and professional darts player Christine Ngyuen -- which is touring the country daring guys to come out and beat one of them at their game. If someone does, he's entered in a drawing for a free trip to Vegas for the national finals. Jenny is the A Team's honorary captain -- or, in her words, "head bitch."

Thursday night, I walked into the Q Lounge on West 19th Street a shade after 8 p.m. The crowd was in the back, around the VIP area. Two red pool tables were set up, along with a dart board behind them. Jennifer and Christine were already taking care of challengers. Jenny was sprawled out on the open pool table, posing for photographers.

I found the PR representative, who took me over to meet Jenny. We exchanged pleasantries, me stammering like Forrest Gump -- "Hel-lo, Jen-ny." She seemed very nice. "So Kieran wants to play a game of pool with you," the PR rep told her. "Oh, really?" Clearly, this was the first she'd heard of this. She hadn't been counting down the hours all day, like I had. But she was cool with playing a game.

We walked over to the open table. "Do you know how to set up the balls with the triangle thingy?" Jenny asked. I tried to hide my smirk. I must admit, I'm a pretty poor pool player. But after that comment, I figured I had this one in the bag.

After we set up the table, I offered Jenny the opportunity to break. But she insisted I do the honors -- to my dismay, because I'm particularly bad at breaking. So I lined up the break, and let 'er rip.

The cue ball dented the others slightly, and shot straight into the left corner pocket. Scratch. Game Over.

"Hey, I won, right?" Jenny shrieked. I bowed my head in embarassment. "Um ... yeah," I replied. "Why don't we just play it out, though. Is that cool?"

Jenny McCarthy
When it comes to pool, Jenny's got little game.
That was fine with her. She hit her first shot -- and not only sank a solid, but a stripe as well. So it was my choice. I took stripes, and knocked one in on my next shot. Game On.

When Jenny was up, it was hard not to stare -- especially when she leaned over the table. She had on a black Goldschlager tank top, tight blue jeans and black heels. It was a new experience playing against someone I've seen naked in pictures. In fact, I considered picturing her naked while we played, to calm my nerves, like they say you should do with an audience when you're giving a speech. But I figured that would be way, WAY too distracting.

Plus, I had to be careful. Her husband, director John Asher, hovered around us the whole time. He gave her coaching tips throughout the game. My "coaches" were three friends who had shown up to ... well, you know why they showed up. One of them kept yelling, "Get in her head, Darcy!" Her head wasn't exactly what I had on my mind.

The game wore on for about 20 minutes. Jenny and I didn't chat much, because it was hard to hear with the hip hop pumping in the background. Every few shots, she would knock one in. Every few shots, I usually wouldn't. "We both suck!" Jenny screamed at one point.

I couldn't sink a darn thing. I was sweating through my shirt, and all I could do was shake my head. Every time I missed and stepped away from the table, I seemed to bump into a photographer trying to get a close-up of Jenny. I saw my masculinity evaporating right before the eyes of Jenny, her husband, my friends and the photographers. I couldn't wait for the game to end.

Jenny McCarthy
Jenny's playing it cool while hubby John Asher (left) looks on, and a very embarrassed Kieran Darcy (right) can't bear to watch.
Finally, I gift-wrapped it -- unintentionally, of course. The 8 ball sat right in front of that same corner pocket. I put my cue away. She put me away. Game Over. Again. Four stripes sat motionless on the table.

Demoralized, I retreated to a couch in the back for a brief interview with Jenny. I wondered what to ask first? I'd heard her interviewed by Howard Stern on the radio that morning -- she had allowed him to touch her breasts and behind, with her husband's permission! Did I dare be so bold?

No way.

"So, do you play a lot of pool?" I asked sheepishly.

"You know what? That's the first game of pool I've played since the eighth grade."

DOH!

I figured I might win some points if I asked a serious question. Jenny had her first child about 18 months ago. So I asked, "How has motherhood changed you?"

"It's changed me 100 percent," she replied. "Before, all I wanted was to be on the cover of Newsweek and Rolling Stone. Now my drive isn't necessarily for my success; it's for my son's well-being. I'd much rather watch him win a gold football trophy than me win a gold acting statue."

Good answer. After that, I felt more confident. I could ask what I really wanted to know.

"Any advice for tall skinny Irish guys who suck at pool?"

Jenny laughed, and tapped me on the shoulder. "You don't need advice; you got it goin' on!" she said. "You're a doll! Keep doin' what you're doin'. Tall lean Irish guys are my biggest turn-on!"

Jenny McCarthy
Sassy Jenny with a still sheepish Kieran.
Talk about a much-needed ego boost. I didn't hesitate with my follow-up question.

"Well, I know you're married ... but let's say you were single. You're 30, I'm 25 ... would 25 be too young for you?"

"No way; bring it!" she replied. "I'd teach you a few things ... well, except I can't anymore."

By now, I was beaming, and we posed for one more picture. I didn't know how to react, so I played it safe and kept my hands at my sides. But Jenny slapped my right arm around her waist, and wrapped her arm around me. After the photo was snapped, I thanked her again and said goodbye.

Still smiling, I sauntered back to my friends, who were over by the pool table. I should have known I could count on them to bring me back to earth. They greeted me with my new nickname.

"Hey, 4 Balls!"

You can e-mail Kieran Darcy at kieran.d.darcy@espn3.com.





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