Delicious responded softly, "Sometimes I just like to look at food."
At the same time he recognizes that his size is part of his appeal. And apart from requiring him to employ the mechanical bridge more often than his colleagues do, his outsized physique doesn't much affect his game. "You'd think stamina might be a problem with me," he says, "but I can't think of one time it's cost me a match."
Unlike a rack of balls, old habits are hard for Delicious to break. Even after his conversion to playing professionally, the road beckons. About a year ago he got a call from a stakehorse asking if he would drive to a dive in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and play a series of games against a man known as the Gunslinger. Delicious drove for 16 hours and played for one. After hitting a bunch of those no-way-in-hell shots, each time leaving his cue ball perfectly positioned, he emerged $10,000 to the good. "I can't really hustle like I used to," he says, "but if someone arranges a money game for me in advance, they know where to find me."
Still, his lifestyle has changed dramatically. He's now based in Manchester, N.J., where he lives with his parents. Dave and Doris still marvel at how their troubled 15-year-old dropout, who eventually got his diploma by attending an alternative high school while he hustled pool, has flourished. "Pool was always what made him happiest, which is why we let him play," says Dave, who has taken to calling himself Dad Delicious. "But we didn't really know how good he was. I've been going to some of Danny's tournaments--I even saw him win, like, $1,000 on a hustle in a small town in Michigan--and the whole thing has been tremendous."
When Kid Delicious isn't competing in tournaments or giving lessons for $50 an hour at the Prime Time Sports Bar & Billiards Cafe in South Amboy, N.J., odds are good that he's either practicing on a table or--get this--doing yoga meditation exercises. Pete Fusco, a veteran pro player of some distinction, recently opened a pool palace in suburban Philadelphia that has dozens of tables, a private glow-in-the-dark room and Ping-Pong tables. Before the place was ready for the public, though, it was used as a practice facility by a handful of ranked pool players. On a chilly day in November, Delicious drove in from Jersey to hit some balls. He was practicing his break when an old friend walked in.
Delicious cried, " Bristol!"
Now a community college student hoping to teach gym, Bristol Bob, 29, lives with his girlfriend, Janelle (who designed Fusco's pool hall), outside Philadelphia. He has stayed in close contact with his old road buddy and become his informal coach.
As Delicious practices his break--a violent smack that sounds as if it came from a gun barrel--and then runs through a menu of cuts and double banks and demonic touch shots, Bristol watches intently and notes any mechanical glitch. On this day, though, they mostly reminisce about their years on the road.
"I can't tell you how happy I am for Danny," Bristol says. "All he wanted was to be a professional player, and look at him now. He's going to be the best."
At this point Delicious can't suppress his inner hustler. A sly grin starts to form inside his goatee. "Nah, don't say that," Delicious says, laughing. "Just tell 'em I'm going be the best in my weight class." ?