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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

He Makes His Approach...

Twenty-eight years ago, when I met my darling husband, his idea of "fun" was bowling. He bowled on Wednesday nights on a scratch league and he bowled every Friday night in the Nisei league. Nisei means "second generation". It is a Japanese language term used to specify the children born to Japanese people in their new country. No, my husband is not Japanese. But all of his best friends are. We always joke that he was the "token white boy" in the league. In fact, when we were set up for a blind date by mutual friends, in telling me about him, they described him as "Charlie only dates Japanese girls". (He denies this.) When I said, "Well..I'm not Japanese." My friend responded.."Eh, close enough!" Yes. She really said that.

Anyway, our days of courting were spent in bowling alleys. Me, sitting in the gallery watching him bowl every Wednesday and Friday night. I was 19, he was 22. I remember how excited I would be after work to get myself quickly to the bowling alley to see him. I remember the smells of the alley, I remember how EVERYONE smoked inside back then and you would leave there smelling like you had been in a bar. I remember the sounds of the pins and the thud of the balls. I remember the cocktail waitress who looked like Hallmark's Maxine and always had a ciggie hanging out of her mouth when she'd ask you.."Whaddaya want ta drink, Sweets?" But mostly, I remember being so in love that it didn't matter to me that I spent two nights a week in a stinky bowling alley.

I LOVED watching Charlie make his approach on the lane. He was smooth and his moves were fluid. But the best part was...he had the cutest ass. Back then, the popular style of pants were Angel's Flights. Those things just fit his toosh so perfectly. So deliciously. He would stand there before delivering his ball down the lane, concentrating on placement, while I concentrated on how I couldn't wait for the third game to be over so I could get him in the back seat of his Torino. (Right now, I picture Averie running to the bathroom to rinse out her eyes. Which are burning from reading what her mother just wrote.)

So, here we are, nearly 3 decades later and Charlie begins a new job in September. One of the engineers approaches him and asks him if he bowls. In an effort to get to know his co-workers and try to "fit in" at his new place of employment, he says yes, even though it's been YEARS. So the gentleman invites him to join the company team in a league. Before he knew it, he was wearing a team shirt and going to the bowling alley every Tuesday night.

For the first few weeks, Charlie comes home after bowling and heads straight to the medicine cabinet for a vicodin. Everything hurts, his scoliosis is making itself known, his hip is sore, his thumb is killing him from a crappy alley ball, etc. etc. Age sucks. But I ask him if he's having fun. "Yeah, but I can't believe how bad I bowl now. Remember when I was a scratch bowler? Remember when I could bowl over 200?" I nod, but honestly what I'm really remembering is how hot his ass looked when he bowled.

The weeks pass, and Charlie's bowling seems to be improving. His average is going up, he's talking "handicap" again. He still hurts and heads to the medicine cabinet when he gets home, but his morale has improved along with his game. In all these weeks, I haven't been to watch him bowl because I have been working late at the shop and after work, I just want to go home and be couch bait. The last couple of weeks, I fully intended to go watch him, but something prevents it. Last night, I was determined to go and watch my husband bowl. I even closed the shop a couple minutes early so that I could hopefully beat traffic.

I call Charlie and tell him I'm heading to the bowling alley. He sounds excited and gives me directions. As I walk into the doors, those familiar, unmistakeable, sights and sounds hit me and I'm suddenly 19 years old again. I look down the long row of lanes and I see his smiling face, so happy to see me and coming to greet me. He scoops me up in his arms with a big hug and says "It's been a long time since we did this. Weird, huh?" Yeah, weird.

Minus the smoke, everything else is the same. The cocktail waitress still looks like a Maxine. The greasy fries and onion rings in the red and white paper boats. The beer boys yelling at their bowling balls after they release them as if the ball can hear them and change course. High fives for a "Brooklyn". And then there's Charlie's approach. I watch as he addresses the pins and goes through his routine. Despite the addition of 28 years and a bit of weight, his method is the same as it was back then. Even though his bowling shirt covers his butt, I can still see that familiar little wiggle that set my teenage libido afire. When that ball finds those pins and they fly, I feel that sense of pride I had so long ago. That feeling that this guy is mine. I'm with him. He's with me. The years that have passed make no difference at all. The only thing that's different is that there's no Torino backseat to run to after game three.