Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday night done right

About seven years ago or so Green Girl was a HUGE fan of the TV show Ed. She'd decided to quit her teaching job, expecting baby #2 that fall, and accepted her destiny as homemaker. At least for a while.

Around this time, Mr. D came home and announced he'd signed them up for a couples bowling league that would run all fall and winter. What would be more traditional and campy than that? Every other Friday night, Mr. D and Green Girl would drive to a small bowling alley in a town on the outskirts of civilization and BOWL! Just like the characters in Green Girl's beloved Stuckeyville! It would get them out of the house for a date night with some regularity (when a couple pays $5 an hour for a babysitter, having no family, kith or kin in sight, date nights become an Unnecessary Luxury Item). Plus, Mr. D reasoned, a regular night out would keep Green Girl from plunging into the abyss of madness that would come from staying home all day, every day, in their new country home with no close neighbors. She'd be JUST LIKE Carol Vessey, even if she wasn't teaching high school English anymore.

The actual bowling alley in question--all 6 lanes.

That summer while trekking to the thrift shop with another load of useless household goods (for they were moving and moving means purging), Green Girl saw a display of bowling balls by the entrance of the thrift shop. She picked one up and fell in love with the way it fit her hand--the holes were wide enough for her stocky fingers and spaced close enough for the span of her hand's reach. Often if the holes were drilled wide enough in an alley ball, they were spaced so far apart that the ball was impossible to grasp. She felt the ball's heft in her arms and smiled. Not too heavy, not too light. In fact, this ball was just right. She turned it over in her hands and saw a name etched in the surface. Jan. Really, the perfect bowling name. It smacked of old school and simplicity, cigarettes and bright lipstick. Jan.

"How much?" Green Girl called across to the old man running the register.

"All the bowling balls are fifty cents. Bags are a buck."

She'd come to town to drop off goods, not to shop, so she carried neither wallet nor purse. Tearing back to her car, Green Girl scrabbled in the cupholders for spare change. A quarter, two dimes and a nickel later, she returned.

That fall after her brief maternity leave with Mr. B, Green Girl started bowling. She was overweight from the pregnancy and her self-esteem was in the gutter--her bowling ball followed suit. Green Girl and Jan broke 100 that year with consistency. They didn't set any Major Bowling Records, but they had a lot of laughs.

Sometimes Green Girl curses Jan, but mostly she's proud of her.

The following year Green Girl lost her baby fat, then gained another 50 pounds and had Mr. G. She adjusted her stance with her expanding waistline and adjusted again when her figure returned. Her average rose to 116, then 127. She inherited a pair of bowling shoes from another bowler and watched Mr. D purchase a couple new balls for himself. It gave her no small measure of pride when her fifty cent thrift shop ball could beat his $150 Hammer in a game. Sometimes Jan and Green Girl threw a mean game--with crazy scores like 167, 182 and 154!

Mr. D is a high-maintenance bowler. His shoes are also new. His average is in the 180's. He's also a natural athlete.

Tonight Green Girl and Jan will go bowling. Their average is nearing the 140 mark and their shame is genuine when they can't pick up a spare or leave a split. They and Mr. D have new bowling partners--a fun couple--the man sings a mean karaoke and the woman reads lots of books. Green Girl will complain about how cold Jan feels after sitting in Mr. D's trunk for two weeks. She'll slide on her bowling shoes (also wicked cold) and throw a couple practice balls. After three games, much laughter, and a couple of these:

Brewed in Wisconsin with a rich and hearty taste, Green Girl is conscious of her beer miles and gave up her beloved Newcastle Brown Ale.

she'll zip Jan back in her bowling bag for another two weeks.


  1. What a great story and what great fun. Here's to a fab foursome and Jan.

  2. I love the blurry picture... It looks like someone had the camera in hand after beer #2!


    Have a great weekend, Jan.

    - Julia

  3. Beautifully written post and that is the cutest bowling alley I've ever seen. I hope it looks like that NOW. All the alleys around here are converted to techno neon disco crazy lanes with black lights and loud music and it's enough to give anybody seizures. HBB (my husband, affectionately self-named half-brain boy after his crainiotomy back in 2001 for removal of a brain tumor) and I don't try to venture into bowling alleys anymore because of the loud and flashy places they have all become.

  4. Jan is the perfect bowling ball name. Fits perfectly!

    Have fun for me. We have pinewood derby registration. Weeeeee!

  5. Newcastle Brown ale??????

  6. I LOVE it! Great story and Jan is sooo red lipstick and cigarettes! She sounds like a good friend who doesn't sweat the small stuff! Great post and what a fun read!

  7. I love bowling but I'm horrible at it! Have you ever tried duckpin bowling? I am even worse at that! :) So fun though!

    I wish I could find a 50 cent bowling ball! Have a hard time finding one that fits my hand...

  8. Spotted Cow!! When you feel adventurous, do you have a Fat Squirrel?

  9. That is a very good post. Nothing like good, clean fun.

  10. I would wear bowling shoes in real life. I think they're cool.

  11. Wow. Your posts have deeper meaning than you know. Today I got my wires crossed and left my friend Jan (with whom I once watched bowling) sitting in a restaurant. After reading your post today and thinking of yesterday's... I totally did not forget to call her an reschedule.

  12. What a fun post! Jan is very pretty.
    I haven't bowled in about 8 years!

  13. I may have to send you a sixpack of Newcastle for your birthday! Love the snaps, love that Jan is still racking up the points for you~

  14. Fun story! Jan the bowling ball - it does conjur up the smell Aqua Net and cigarettes.

  15. Jan is the coolest! I am very jealous of your regular bowling outings - sounds like fun!

  16. You are such a great writer... you need to put your efforts into a book.

    We've been talking about bowling memories lately. It seems that no matter whose home we're at, we end up bowling with Wii. I get sore muscles after 3 games of virtual bowling... I'd be a wreak if I actually went to a bowling alley.

  17. This sounds seriously fun. I'm the worst bowler (if I break 80, it's a good night), but it's always a good time.

    Who says everything's all about Marsha Marsha Marsha? :-)

  18. Your very own Jan! I'm jealous to the core and not only because I have the same problem finding a bowling ball that fits.

    I also loved Ed, although mostly because of my mad crush on Tom Cavanagh. :)

  19. It's nice to have an old friend like Jan.

  20. Well, I bowled... once. It was not pretty!

  21. You have now reminded me that my hubby and I simply MUST go bowling. There is nothing better than an evening with my man, rolling balls, drinking beer and eating the bowling alley staple of patty melts.

    Love this post!

  22. No mention of bowling shirts with names embroidered on them! It's got to be head-to-toe.

  23. Hey! That Spotted Cow beer is brewed only eight miles from my home up north! How cool is that?

    I does my heart good to walk through the beer section of the local grocery stores down here on the Gulf Coast, and see six-packs of "Leinie's" Honey Weiss on the cooler shelf!


Spill it, reader.