In an effort to give all those near and dear to me a reason to survive the recent holidays, I announced that I would be having a bowling party. The fact that the end of the holidays landed on my birthday was merely a coincidence resulting in several bottles of wine and other lovely gifts. It was not the intent, but it’s hard to find fault with the result.
It was casual and not very well thought out; I simply posted a cute picture of some bowling pins on Facebook and told anyone who wanted to come, they could. I called a bowling alley near me and asked how one might go about doing this, because the last time I did it was for someone turning eight.
Turns out there is such a thing as an adult bowling party, and I was having one. I called it Superbowl 2017 because I was certain the name wasn’t already taken.
Bowling Alley Dude cut me a great deal when I told him there might be as many as 20 people. He just asked that I call the day before and confirm the numbers. I called the day before and told him we were up to 40. It appears bowling is one of those secret things everybody likes to do but never admits to, like reading their horoscope or watching Judge Judy.
I am a terrible bowler. Worse than that, I’m an embarrassing bowler. But the beauty of bowling is that no matter how badly you suck at it, you have fun. Sometimes the fun comes from laughing at watching people like me bowl.
When I got to the alley, Bowling Dude handed me a stack of white papers and told me to have everyone make up teams of six. I looked around the crowded, dark alley and saw all these people I knew who didn’t know each other. I instructed them to make themselves into teams.
This was fairly easy for my sisters and my kids and their friends, but there were many there who only knew me. I found out later that was indeed how most people got acquainted.
“So, how do you know Lorraine?” they asked.
As I watched strangers cheer each other on throughout the night, I realized there are far worse ways to form friendships, even ones that only last a few hours.
I watched Ari and his friends sharing pitchers of beer – sad to say, they’d made me their designated driver for the night – and bowl with the enthusiasm and ease of still having all their original parts. I watched other friends consider their replaced hips or wobbly knees and wonder how much this was going to hurt in the morning.
I had youth on my team: some kids the same age as my sons, as well as a couple of friends of my own. Our scores were all within a few points of each other; one lad laughed that it was like all of us trying to be the tallest gnome. Nobody broke 100, and I don’t think anyone broke a sweat. But we laughed and we applauded and watched similar score sheets across the eight lanes that were hosting my party.
People met my sisters, their families, and my high school English teacher. They met my co-workers and some grade school friends. They met car industry people, and people I’d worked with 30 years ago. They met a couple I’d met by writing about their daughter, and a man I wrote about last year.
Not everybody bowled, but everyone participated.
Next year the invite will again stand open. Cheap, cheerful and inclusive.
Bet we get more than 40.