Sunday, May 24, 2015


I'm sure some of you will be every bit as excited as I am to hear that Groupon has bowling tickets. My parents used to laugh when I was a teenager and a potential date announced he liked bowling. He was immediately scratched off the list.

My mom is amazingly good at bowling, quite athletic, really. She could (and probably still can) run lightly up to the beginning of that long aisle, execute a little half bow while simultaneously sliding a foot gracefully behind her, and gently send the heavy, horrid thing sailing lightly down it to score a perfect whatever-it-is when you knock all those pins over.

I almost always had gutter balls. Sometimes they waited until they almost reached those little pins and then they would unexpectedly turn into the gutter. It was usually quite inevitable.

Of course I could never mimic my mother's grace. I would awkwardly stand there, shifting from one foot to the next in an agony of indecision, looking self conscious, as I got ready to launch the ball. If the pins had been alive, they would have seen me coming and said "Alright, then, time to have some tea."

Occasionally the ball would take pity on me and it would take out a pin or two as if to console me for my dismal losing streak. This was actually the cruelest joke of all, as it would give me enough encouragement to continue to soldier on through the several more gutterballs that followed.

Of course you can never say enough about the rental shoes. Part of the thrill of bowling is to never be able to wear comfortable footwear. And as you sat, waiting for your turn to feed the gutter, you would stare at those awful shoes, wondering what really lurked within: Athlete's Foot? Worms? Some new form of flesh eating bacteria? Those shoes never fit, they always smelled funny, and they were never anything you'd remotely consider wearing in public.

Although there were exceptions, the type of people who frequented these bowling alleys all reminded me of Fred Flintstone. Even the women looked a bit like him, although some had mustaches that were much more impressive than the one he sported when he was "in disguise". I often wondered if they all would really be as excited about their weekly Bowling Night if it didn't involve the beer and pretzels at the concession stand and their chance to occasionally wear coordinated pepto-bismal pink shirts with their names embroidered on the left pocket.

At some point the bowling alleys decided to create something a bit sexier and they advertised Glow Bowling, which is the same as bowling, except with lurid black lights. That meant that if it was dark enough and you had enough concession stand beer in you, some of the women who looked like Fred Flintstone might magically morph into a more acceptable Wilma and Fred might start to look a bit less caveman-like. Other than that, nothing is different: The shoes are less noticeable, of course, but what lurks in them remains.

Some people lament the shrinking bowling alleys: Many are being mowed under and have been replaced by shopping malls. All I can say is that if you're in a shopping mall, you have the opportunity to wear good footwear and there is a zero possibility that you will have a gutterball. Your chances of encountering Fred Flintstone are also somewhat reduced, as he has now moved on to the one remaining bowling alley or local pool hall.