The experience begins before we even enter the building--the streets outside are packed. People are parking a couple of blocks away and walking. To bowl. Wrap your mind around that for a second. We parked at a nearby TCBY and in retrospect, I should have just stayed there and had myself a giant cup of fro yo and called it an evening.
I have seen Walmart less crowded on Black Friday. We move along this sea of people, shoulder to shoulder, and find our friends. We head to the check-in desk and are told there is a three hour wait for a lane. Ha, ha, ha, I am laughing to myself. No one in their right freaking mind would wait that long to bowl. Oh, but it appears that we will. This is shaping up fantastically.
The bowling alley is supposed to have a restaurant that actually serves good food--barbecue, macaroni and cheese, all sorts of comfort food. I was looking forward to that part of the evening--I may not be a big bowler, but you say macaroni and cheese and I will come a-running. As it turns out, the "restaurant" is really more of a refurbished snack bar. There are three tiny booths and two zillion hungry people milling about, waiting to pounce. There is no wait list and they don't take reservations. You just hang out and wait.
We make the executive decision to go next door to the new Tex Mex place, and my evening is looking up. Chips, salsa, queso, fun. I had forgotten all about the over hyped, over crowded bowl-a-rama next door, when Clint gets the text that our lane is ready. Um, it's 10:00. Are we for real here?
We walk back to the rent-a-shoe desk. The girl working the desk is about as excited about this whole process as yours truly. She drops four pairs of the most heinous shoes ever produced on the counter and sprays them with some mystery spray that is supposed to make wearing community shoes seem hygienic. I look at my friend Amy's shoes and they are not terrible: red and blue and classic bowlers, if you will. Mine look like Forest Gump's special shoes. They are as big as clown shoes even though they say they are a six and a half, and it is very hard to feel good about oneself sporting these babies. Please compare Amy's shoes on the left and my bowling beauties on the right:
Dressed for success (and yes, those are my leopard print socks showing). Let the good times roll. Now, Amy is sweet as pie and cute as a button, so I am going to forgive her for lying to me about her bowling ability. When we made plans, I believe she commented something about employing the granny roll method with her ball. Pure deception. The next time I go to their house, I am checking their closets for bowling league shirts with names like Spare Bear and Lightening Strike embroidered on them. Everyone, save for me and my sock hop shoes, is really good and taking it kind of seriously.
We paid for two games. There are ten frames in each game and you get two chances per frame. Let me do the quick math on that: that means I had to hurl that fricking ball 40 times. There were four of us, so we stood there watching a bowling ball do it's thing 160 times that evening. Oh, the excitement, the thrill, the adrenaline rush. I want it over, like 72 bowls ago.
Moonshine is, for some unidentifiable reason, now trendy again as well. The bowling alley prides itself on having different kinds of moonshine on tap. Knowing my affinity for anything gimmicky, Clint sets out to get two moonshine drinks for us to try. Only the place doesn't have a list of what the moonshines are and the bartender can only remember two of them: blueberry or strawberry. Clint orders two strawberry moonshine margaritas (I am cringing as I type those words...ewww). They are served in (get ready for this) iced tea glasses. Where are the mason jars? Isn't that the whole point? You don't drink beer from a champagne flute and you don't drink moonshine from anything but a mason jar. Of course this place is 63 people over the fire marshall's building capacity, and they have run out of mason jars. Good. To. Know.
And then, my super fun outing takes a turn for the even worse. I suddenly feel a splash against the back of my (new) skinny jeans akin to being hit with a water balloon. It's beer. Yucky, very cold, someone else's beer is all over the back of my entire left leg. I look around to see what the hell has happened in this den of craziness and immediately spy the culprit: Bama Bangs (if this term isn't yet familiar, here you go) has been bowling in the lane next to us all evening. He is so drunk he can barely stand, he has been using my choice orange, girlie eight pound ball, his preppy Southern hair is covering his entire forehead, and he is wearing a sweater which I am sure is the school colors of his unwarrantedly snooty alma mater.
Rather than apologize, Bama Bangs looks at the ceiling. Like he is oblivious to what has just happened. Amy finally makes eye contact with him and gestures to the empty cup lying beside his feet, asking if he is the beer spiller. He looks at us through half open eyes (or what we could see beneath the waterfall of hair), and slurs, "I meant to throw that beer at my girlfriend, but I guess I missed. Can I buy you another beer?"
In hindsight, I should have started a scuffle and possibly gotten myself kicked out of this ridiculous place. My blood was boiling--everyone knows how hard it is to find a good pair of jeans, plus this charming person is not the least bit sorry for what he did. With all the disdain I can muster, I glare and hiss, "I am already wearing one beer--why in the world would I need another one?" Bama Bangs is scared now, and his friend perfectly sums up the encounter by adding, "Duuuuuuude."
It is beyond crowded, a DJ is playing, drunk girls are dancing. Basically, we are at a low rent rave. I appoint Clint my DB--designated bowler--and wait for the three Professional Bowlers Association members I am with to bring this one to a close. Almost five hours after our bowling fiasco began, we put on our normal people shoes and head for the exit.
Richard and Amy, a.k.a. Lightning Strike and Spare Bare, you are good sports. And even better bowlers. And despite the good company, I am going to let someone else have my spot next go 'round. And my shoes.