For Ewan "Johnny" Smith's 22nd birthday, we decided to
outfit ourselves in 70's apparel from the local thrift
store for a first-ever night of 70's bowling. Here
were the players:
Cory - a blond-haired Minnesotan and my companion
for "St. Pete or Bust," with an explosive gusto for
fun. He dressed in a bright blue collared shirt, a
short matching jacket, and white pants decorated with
blue and red squares. He gave his hair a part as
sharp as cheddar cheese, and his boyish looks
resembled a porn star.
Luke - a short-haired kid who's loyal and down
for anything. He wore light yellow slacks, a white
polo shirt with blue and yellow stripes, and a shiny
blue jacket. A yellow old-timer's cap completed his
ensemble, and he looked so much like a taxi driver I
kept expecting him to turn around and ask me, "Where
Johnny - my roommate, a 6'8" former basketball
player with big, round features and a gut he'd gained
proudly after quitting sports two years ago. He's a
flatulence-loving man's man. His outfit consisted of
a white undershirt, a light brown checkered dresscoat,
a pink gentleman's cap, and a long pair of pink pants
so tight, as he said, "you could see (his) teeth when
he bent over." After he somehow managed to button his
pants, his gut hung over, and his round glasses and
jolly smile gave him the look of a 70-year old
Me - a saint of a guy with the athletic prowess
of an ancient Greek olympian, the strength and agility
of a cougar, and the charm of James Bond. I wore a
leprechaun's suit, with a sharp-collared orange shirt
beneath, buttoned low so my chest-hair protruded. My
greased hair was parted down the middle, so I was
dressed to sell used cars. "These beaut's are marked
for as low as $499, with low-monthly interest and no
money down! They're going like hotcakes, so hustle on
down to Modern Oddyseus' Lot of Alotta Cars Blowout
Reduction Liquidation Close-Out Sale!"
We consumed close to ten beers each, went with
some friends to the bowling alley, and ordered a
couple pitchers of beer.
A 15-year old took an interest in our dress. We
explained that it was for a birthday, and we asked the
kid how old he thought Johnny was.
"I don't know ... fifty?" he said.
We bowled. Full of beer and the high spirits
that follow, we started cheering like crazy for
everyone who stepped up to the lanes. Common chants
for a bowler included "C'moooon, Luke!" and "Here we
go now, big strike!"
All the cheering became too much for me, and I
wanted a competition. I carefully chose a girl,
Emily, to pick on, based on that she'd only bowled
twice before in her life. "You stink. You
sti-iii-iii-ink!" I yelled. "You're a loser.
The cheering went on for the others, and we'd
brought many different bowling styles to the lanes.
Cory, in his tight blue suit, grew serious when it was
his turn and performed calisthenics before bowling.
He straightened his arms to the side and rotated them
in little circles, then did a couple of deep-knee
bends and toe touches. I bowled a straight,
ungraceful ball, but, each time the ball left my hand,
I swung my right foot in a wide loop to the left and
held my empty hand in the air for a pose suggesting I
could've been a professional. Johnny, meanwhile, only
sprinted to get his ball and finish his turn so he
could run back, hi-fiving people on the way, to his
Midway through the first game, the mounting
pressure of Johnny's pants burst when he bent wrong to
pick up the ball, slicing a hole in his crotch and
giving way to red boxer-briefs.
Somehow - I'm still not sure how yet - I entered
into my last frame trailing Emily by six pins. I
faced certain, endless taunting from my peers if I
ended up losing to the third-time bowler I'd been
ridiculing all game. I fell short on my first ball.
I threw another fast ball, knocking over a few pins.
I doubted I'd knocked down enough. How was I going to
face Emily? The scores showed up: Emily - 101. Justin
- 102. I'd gotten enough!
An enormous, rosy-cheeked, drunk smile conquered
my face. "Wooohooo!!!" I yelled in Emily's face.
"You suck, Emily! You su-uuu-uuu-uuu-uck!!!" She
couldn't have enjoyed that much, I guess, because she
went home soon after. But, hey, I never said I was a
saint or nothing.
In the second game, Johnny's suitcoat ripped down
the back and fell off, leaving him in rags. We
continued cheering for each other, sending echoes
throughout the building. "And, straight out of
Baltimore, it's . . . Luke Seipp-Williams!" Or:
"Making the long journey all the way from France, it's
By the third game, we were buried in empty
beer-pitchers. Never before had a game been bowled so
poorly, or, at the same time, with as much celebration
as that game. Cory threw a ball that bounced over the
lane-divider and went down my alley. One ball I
bowled managed to hit a ball I'd thrown earlier,
sending both balls into a machine which was setting up
the pins and then knocking both balls backwards all
the way up the gutter and back to me. (This, I
suppose, was very unlike the athletic prowess an
ancient Greek olympian might possess - guess I was
wrong about that description)
Rarely, someone threw a strike, and he was hugged
and tackled by a mob of overhappy celebrators who
should've been catching disco fever. Once, I tackled
Cory, screaming, as soon as he bowled, and it turned
out to be a gutter. Another time, Johnny threw a ball
to a chorus of "Yah's!" from the crowd and sprinted
back to hi-five each of us, yelling confidently, "I
knew it right when I left my hands," though, in
actuality, he didn't hit a single pin.
Frenchy was sober, so she drove when it was time
to leave. Only a mile from my apartment, I steered
her: "Okay, Frenchy. Are you ready with those huge
fingers of yours? Turn NOW! ... no, wait, that was
"I took the wrong turn?" she asked.
"We're lost!?" Cory mocked concern. "Oh ...
"What do I do now?" Frenchy said.
"Oh, dear Lord!"
"OK, put on your left turn signal ... NOW!"
"Oh, no. No, no, no. What are we gonna do!?"
"Where should I go? What should I do?" said
"Just get us home," Cory whined. "Oh, no, I'm
never going to get back to my bed. We're gonna be
"OK, you're gonna have to turn left ... NOW - no,
wait, not th- NOW! NOW! ... NOW, Frenchy!!!"
Cory buried his face. "Oh, no, dear Lord. No!"
When we got to our apartment, Johnny immediately
went to our freezer. Cory, Luke, and I ran for him,
and we engaged in our ages-old tradition of wrestling
for ice cream. Johnny held the prize over his head
and hurdled over us and into the living room, where he
quickly was subdued to the ground. I jumped on top of
him, followed by Cory and Luke, and we scrapped around
with our spoons, hoping each to get a large chunk of
the ice cream.
Cory and Luke got up and called for a fight.
"Justin versus The Birthday Boy!" My roommate and I
went at it, throwing each other on the ground and into
the walls until I was on bottom. "Ow!" I yelled.
Hopeless to overpower him, I got crafty and grabbed my
bike from its position near the wall and started
ramming it into Johnny.
"Get the bike off him!" yelled Frenchy. "The
pedal is cutting into his skin!" She and Luke and
Cory struggled to pull the bike from me while Johnny
slammed me into the carpet, but my grip was
unrelenting. After a minute, Johnny had been cut in
places, but I'd been banged up and bruised beneath his
Satisfied, Johnny stood. "There! That's how to
whoop your as*!" (What he didn't know was that I just
let him beat me up because it was his birthday, the
Johnny grabbed a spoon, and I had no choice but
to attack to defend my ice cream. This time, I was
really whooped around and thrown at the wall and
body-slammed so that I thought my back was going to
break. Hmm, maybe I don't have the strength and
agility of a cougar after all.
Finally, Johnny took the ice cream into the
bathroom and locked the door - a famous move of his
that finishes nearly every ice cream war.
Although it was 2 in the morning, I was defeated
and ice cream-less and drunk, so I picked up the phone
to hit on girls. The first girl I called was asleep.
I yelled at her roommate, "Wake her up! Wake her up!"
So, the girl got on the phone, sounding cute but
also so tired that she probably couldn't have told me
what year it was. I began babbling incoherently and
nonsensibly. "Maybe we could go out some time, you
know, what are you doing this weekend, we could go on
a little scavenger hunt I've devised, it'd be fun."
"I'm going to be busy this weekend," she said.
"The whole weekend?"
"Every second of the weekend."
And, with that, I've come to realize that little
"James Bond's charm" thing I mentioned earlier was a
bit of a mistake. In fact, that whole sentence had
been a typo. I'd meant to say: with "the harm of
Jane's blond." An easy mistake. Typos happen often
in my profession. See?:
Hippos burn dry if sunny.
I mean -
Happy birthday for Johnny!
later, Modern Oddyseus