Friday, September 17, 2010
As my infatuation with bowling grew, I began to feel like I needed an outfit that warned the general public that I had come not only lacking the basic skills to be an average bowler, but that I reveled in and enjoyed my mediocrity. I wanted my friends to pony up the money to get matching bowling shirts but no one felt the same exuberance and affinity that I did for bowling. So I lowered my sights from shirts to pants to simply shoes. I knew what the shoes had to look like. They had to be 2 parts rockabilly flames and 1 part stolen bowling shoes. I did a lot of things the average good Samaritan would frown upon when I was younger, and stealing bowling shoes was certainly one of them. But I needed some bowling shoes, and Sam's Town wanted to loan them to me indefinitely.
After I had procured a well worn, stinky pair of size 11 bowling shoes, I took them to my airbrushing friend to give them the appropriate flames that would shoot their state of existence from aged and stinky to what the equally stinky hippies in Flagstaff that saw my shoes called "mad money". Confusedly, I took that as a good thing. And after Andy worked his voodoo magic on my shoes, they were every part the side arm to my loan ranger, the garish gold jewelry to my Mr. T, the furry thong to my He-Man. I loved those shoes. I still do. Only, now I can merely love one of them. The left one, to be specific.
Awhile ago I was cleaning up the garage and put the other shoe, the right shoe, in a box that i intended to sort through and give the bulk of its contents to the Salvation Army. Somehow the box found its way to the porch where an unaware Salvation Army representative found it unbeknownst to him containing half of the holiest pair of bowling shoes ever worn. They say the pope and many preachers love to wear insanely expensive Italian shoes. I say fuck that! These shoes screamed brimstone and fire. Remember that Ozzy song "Miracle Man"? No? Well i washed plenty of dishes to it, so I do. He mentions brimstone and fire in that song, and you know that he's talking of that deep south, raise the roof off the sucka evangelical madness, and with the right hair, and right suit, these shoes would have completed the preacher ensemble.
Oh right, the Salvation Army....anyways so I immediately notice that the box was gone, along with my shoe. I called the Salvation Army and proceeded to have the following conversation with operator, who may have had the best intentions but did little more than mock my anguishing over my lost right shoe.
Salvation Army Operator: Salvation Army
Luke: Yes, I'm calling about a box that was accidentally picked up, that contained a shoe of mine.
Salvation Army Operator: A single shoe sir? Why do you want a single shoe back?
Luke: Well, it's a bowling shoe that I have certain connections to. I feel very strongly about that shoe.
Salvation Army Operator;: What does the shoe look like? Can you describe it for me?
At this point I realized she was fucking with me, and had no intention of helping me find my shoe. She just wanted me to pour out my heart about the shoes flames and yellow laces, which I did. She also started laughing, not out right belly laughing, but subdued laughing not unlike the sort that goes on at funerals or weddings when you shouldn't be laughing. I made a mental note of this as to remember what charity should and shouldn't get my old Motley Crue shirts and corduroy pants when the appropriate time arrives.
Salvation Army Operator: Flames? Wow, that sounds like a fancy shoe. Thing is, we gets thousands of items everyday and to search through dozens of trucks to find a single shoe is probably not something any of our workers would want to do.
Luke: Well can't you put out an A.P.B., you know, to really get the word out?
Salvation Army Operator: Sir, we're not the police, that's not what we do. I can ask around and maybe one of the truckers might have seen the shoe, but I'd say your chances of getting the shoe back are probably very slim. I'm sorry darlin'.
Needless to say, when it came time to part with my Motley Crue tour shirts and extensive collection of corduroy pants, the Salvation Army was not notified. It's hard to keep an eternal middle fingered extended in the general direction of a charitable organization, but I try my best. Oh lord do I try.
My beloved right, flame covered bowling shoe, RIP
Monday, September 13, 2010
It all started with my shortcomings. It was the summer after I had graduated from high school and i was suddenly blessed with a wealth of free time and no certain direction in life. I found myself spending more time with other individuals on their own undefined paths in life. Through boredom, or out of the necessity of frugality, we all started bowling together. I was never much of an athlete as someone of my build and abilities is better suited for working the Hot Dog on a Stick pump. Sports of every persuasion were never in my blood and I was fine with that. But bowling was different. Bowling is like a beacon of athletic achievement hope to the broken backed, overweight, chili cheese fries eating masses. It's essentially the only sport a pear shaped man can ever hope to excel in. Which was exactly what I wanted in my competition, ridiculously lowered standards and adversaries with beer bellies.
I'd like to say I was the Rocky Marciano of bowling, the greatest there ever was. But i just wasn't. Still, I took bowling seriously. Very seriously. You can't discount the small things in life, and just like anyone else, I like to win. Even if it is at the hands of a group of sub par bowlers. Having always had the upper body strength of an 85 year old man, or 10 year old girl depending on your outlook, I had to improvise in my rolling technique. I'd build up momentum and force by running about 15 feet up to the line where a sane bowler would normally roll and then I'd let the ball roll. Did this make even the slightest, discernible difference in my scores? Probably not. Did it render me vulnerable to attacks by lesser bowlers? Absolutely! Would this maverick approach to the plumbers sport nearly land me in a correctional facility? Sort of.
"He might have to go to the hospital, Luke". I remember being told that and recalling all the movies I'd seen with a man being loved in all the wrong ways in prison and how I thought that if I could set aside moral, ethical, vaguely religious issues aside, the main deterrent in my avoiding incarceration is the sanctity of my ass hymen being desecrated by a man serving life in jail. You see, just 15 minutes prior to seeing my friend blacked out on the floor of the bowling alley at Sam's Town, I was leading the game and needed to pick up a spare in the final frame to insure I was going to win. For whatever reason, there was an
unproportionate amount of beautiful women to strange looking men at the bowling alley on this night. I didn't pay the women much regard as I ran to toss my ball at the remaining bastard pins that stood between me and another small victory. At this time my childhood friend Chris decided he'd stick his leg out and send me sliding down the lane, ball in hand. Now all those women were shrieking and laughing like they were at a male strip club. One minute the bowling alley sounds like a wake, and the next it's One Night At The Apollo. A regular chucklehouse. It was the laughing that sent me over the edge, and I went into a fit of rage comparable to that of a small dog, more annoying and less intimidating.
I managed to exit the lane but not before falling again as the lane itself is extremely slippery and not intended to be stood on , or exited. As I made my way back to the group of fellow bowlers I saw my buddy Chris sitting there with a look of self-satisfaction chiseled onto his face. Upon seeing his smug expression, I lifted up my 13 pound ball and tossed it at him. I was ok with my actions till I realized where the ball was heading. Chris was seated and the ball landed directly in his lap. My soon-to-be-unconscious friend blacked out and hit the floor of the bowling alley. Gone were the unencumbered sounds of laughter at my expense only replaced by a now angry mob calling for my head. Life is funny like that. I had thought that after all those women witnessed my retaliation they'd hoist me high above their heads like the Ewoks lifted C3PO over theirs.
But no, everyone was calling me an asshole, which I certainly was for having did what I had done. But I wasn't concerned about what the now enraged bowling female masses thought of me. I was preoccupied with the probability of Chris being able to be make future performances in the bedroom or father children. After Chris came to, he crawled into the men's room to do some damage assessment. One of our friends followed him in, then emerged from the bathroom to inform us that the ball had merely landed on "the shaft and not ruptured his balls but I guess his shaft is black and blue".
A little while later Chris left the bathroom to return to our lane. I apologized profusely, not having intended to maim anyone while bowling that night. Chris reminded me of the time in December 1995 when he broke my nose with a fairly impressive uppercut. He said my dropping a bowling ball on his manhood should just about even us up. I thought that was fair.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Throughout the summer of 1992 I worked at The Downtown Diner in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. I was 13 years old. The owner of the diner was a Hawaiian man by the name of Dave, who incidentally was missing a digit after an unfortunate run in with a meat slicer and who was also a friend of my brothers. My brother happened to be the head cook who looked handsome even in a hairnet. My brother suggested to Dave that I wash dishes at the diner for extra money while I spent my summer in Flagstaff contemplating puberty, my rapidly expanding collection of Motley Crue tapes and all those bottomless hippy women I saw in Sedona who seemed to live in total disregard for grooming of the nether regions.
Dave hired me and I was quite content to spend my days listening to the speed metal cassette tapes the cook and his crew played while I was feverishly pumping out dish load after dish load. Sometimes I'd look at the Misfits postcard taped above the grill where all the meals were prepared. Other times I'd take a genuine interest in seeing first hand what is done to the food of the complaining patron. I'd have said my career as a dishwasher at a diner in a town loaded with hippies looked promising till the owner hired his sister-in-law who was an incredibly attractive bohemian of a woman complete with a nose ring, nice form fitting skirts and tasteful cassette tapes that offered me reprieve from the onslaught of Suicidal Tendencies and early Slayer I was quickly growing tired of.
Her name was Karen. She was in her mid twenties, which I saw as a mere technicality as I knew once she witnessed my dishing washing skills everything else would fall into place. One day she asked the cooking crew if she could enter two new cassettes into the rotation. The cassettes were Lenny Kravitz' Mama Said and U2's Achtung Baby. Despite my musical tastes being firmly situated somewhere between Warrant and Motley Crue, I recognized these two cassettes as being brilliant and liked Karen even more so. I often believed that my dish washing prowess ultimately thrived when Achtung Baby was played as it possessed all the melodies and beats that good dish washing music should, as opposed to Slayer's Reign in Blood which made the cooking crew work at a breakneck pace but made me yearn for more of Karen's tapes.
I'd say things were going well with Karen and i till the day I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake (all of which were normally provided to me free of charge by my brother the cook) and my beloved Karen charged me for the entire meal without even offering me a discount. She did mention that she didn't charge me for the bacon, though she should have. I thought pointing out that she overlooked the bacon was patronizing and I knew I couldn't love a woman who charges me for the very food I need to continue the crusade of washing the tsunami of dishes being pushed my way. I can't say I tipped her either, nor that I wanted to. Shortly after the bacon cheeseburger soured relations between Karen and I, Karen suggested to the owner that they find an older dish washer and he did. They handed me my last check and I ran to a local record store to buy a cassette of Motley Crue's Girls Girls Girls, plus a Cinderella CD I'm either too ashamed to mention or just simply can't recall. As an added bonus, my brother ended up hooking up with Karen. I didn't mind. I later bought U2's Achtung Baby and whenever I listen to it, I'm still 13, Karen's still 20-ish and I have yet to order that bacon cheeseburger.