My parents are real sweet folks. They’re smart and kind and supportive. My mom oversees in-home daycare providers in Lynn, MA. My dad is a glazier, which means he installs glass and aluminum fixtures in storefronts and other places of business. When I was a kid, they were always fair and reasonable in terms of discipline, rarely raising their voices and never raising a hand to me or my sister.
One weird thing, though. Whenever my sister and I were being intolerable, like, real bratty jerks, my dad would go bowling. He would get up, go to the closet, pull out his bowling shoes and balls (candlepin), and leave for two hours. I literally have never seen my father take a sip of alcohol, but about five times in my childhood, I did witness him leave to bowl furiously until my sister and I went to bed.
So, as a result of this experience, I associate bowling with some sort of intense catharsis. Add to it my love of The Big Lebowski, and bowling becomes an almost-spiritual experience in my mind.
Cut to last week. I’m in Tennessee. There’s no one around for me to hang out with. My Thursday night show did not go as well as I had hoped. I’ve done my writing for the day, and I’m restless. So I google “Chattanooga bowling alley.” There are three. Each is about two and a half miles away. But what else is there for me to do? So I make the hike down the road in hopes of rolling my feelings down an alley.
It was a nice walk. About forty-five minutes. I started out with some skee-ball, which to me is like tiny bowling. But it was not very satisfying. I’m not sure whether it’s that the balls aren’t heavy enough or that you’re not actually knocking anything over. So I switched to regular bowling. And at first, it was a tremendous failure.
Here’s the thing, guys. I haven’t bowled in probably three years. So I’m a little rusty. It is hard to effect a cathartic experience when you keep rolling gutterballs. Through three frames, my score was an uninspiring seventeen. So instead of working out my frustrations on the pins, I was basically doubling my stress by failing at a leisure sport.
Fortunately, after rolling, zero, nine, eight, and seven over four frames, I hit rock bottom and then started throwing rocks. I finished with a modest personal best of 148. And it really turned my day around. Until it rained for the middle third of my two and a half mile walk back to the condo where I was staying.
Strikes and gutters. Ups and downs.
(This entry took a melancholy turn towards the end, but, in reality, everything’s great.
PS. Come to my birthday show at Great Scott in Allston on Friday 1/14 at 7:30pm!)