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We ended up at the bowling alley today.  Which before leaving seemed like a decent idea.  The sun was on hiatus; we’d already built a one-room mansion with Lincoln Logs; ‘we’d’ (used very loosely, here) laid on the cat and told him we loved him, we’d taken 30 minutes to eat six bites of egg,  we’d walked the neighborhood wearing bike helmets, we’d peed on the kitchen floor, we’d carved in three large candles with our fingernails, we’d carried all our blankets down stairs even the ones from our closet, so we could put them in the lady bug tent, we’d complained about eating roast beef for lunch, and we’d streaked through the backyard.  So really there was nothing left to do but bowl, it being 12:30 and all.

We’d done this bowling thing once before.  So after I paid for the privilege of my kids putting their feet into a used pair of velcro shoes, we headed to lane #9, “the one with bumpers already on it,” the lady said. Which was great.  We don’t have a prayer of hitting a pin without bumpers.  And sometimes with the bumpers, we find ourselves praying for the ball  in the next ten minutes to actually reach the pins.  There is speed bowling like Duane, the forty something year old with buzzed hair to the left of us, is demonstrating.  And there is us.  Or me…verbally urging the neon ball to keep dribbling in the direction away from us.  No sport has ever caused such pain.

My daughter’s completely into it.  Her pink ball richochets six, seven, or eleven times against the bumpers and then wipes out some random configurement of pins.  I clap because I’m a parent.  And then she wildly drops the ball again and we both watch her second throw clean up the rest of the pins.  A spare!  Which is why I’ll never understand bowling.

My son is all about taking his first turn.  He hefts his eight pound orange ball and makes his way to the edge of the lane.  But it seems he can’t remember if he’s right-handed or left-handed, so he swings the ball from hip to hip and finally lets go of the thing from his left side.  He turns and grins, sliding his feet with each step.  Nevermind that his ball is just six inches from the edge of the lane and we will wait most of two minutes for it to tap a single pin.  And then we will repeat these steps.  All in the time the average person has just run a mile.

But he and I agree on one thing: whatever is in the snack bag is far more exciting than what we’re doing here.  So after his first frame of his first game, he routs out the crackers and takes a break.  He rests his face near where the air spurts out and hugs the bowling balls as they roll up the chute.  This is bowling for him.  Only it’s his turn again.  And as he hucks his next ball, it heads sideways.  It is two lanes past Duane before he’s tackled the thing.

Mercifully bowling lasts just one hour and ten minutes.  We are leaving the bowling alley wetter having dropped our water bottle inside.  And we are taking with us most of their toilet seat germs, as they’re on my arm now, the gift of a young son who first groped the seat and then me.  But two kids said they had fun. Which counts for something. I think.   And one mother muttered, “never again.”  Which, come next time,  certainly trumps whatever the kids first said.


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