Last week I took Lietta to the local bowling alley at Hugo’s here on South Hill. As we drove to the site, we began talking about what we used to do, what we might still be able to do and whether or not we were kidding ourselves.
In retrospect, Lietta was not kidding herself and opted to sit behind us and be a cheerleader. I, on the other hand, being all macho and guy-like wanted to present as a still vigorous and athletic 71-year old to my Masonic brothers. Luckily for me, there were only three to witness my “athleticism.”
My fellow bowlers, one in his 30’s and one closer to my age seemed to have not lost the majority of their touch and were easily headed for at least a score of 100. Me? I could not seem to recapture the rhythmic sense of step and motion that would allow me to stand serenely, a bowling ball in both hands with the thumb and fingers locked in place, take my usual routine of one slow step forward followed by a series of rapid smaller strides … right up to the line with my arm now in forward motion about to release my grip and send the ball streaking down the middle of the lane toward a possible strike.
The dance steps no longer responded to my mind’s summons causing me to start and stop a couple of times and then go back to position one. Finally I just lumbered forward trying to time the forward movement of the ball with reaching the line. The result was a beginning of somehow sideways throwing the ball at the lane and two of the first three were gutter balls and the third knocked down a terrified ten-pin.
About half way through the line, I openly vowed to “break 50” before I was through. Shouldn’t have done that …. by the tenth frame me and 50 were neck and neck. So I carefully and tentatively attempted a somewhat nonchalant throw for my tenth frame.
Didn’t work. My stagger to the line was more pronounced, I began to lose balance and when my foot slid across the line, all hell broke loose. Across the line the lane is coated with slick stuff that turned my legs into runaway roller skates and I was not sliding, but careening down the slippery lane. Finally fell forward as my legs went further forward but then landed flat on my back. When my head banged on the lane almost gently, I started to rise but then told myself to hell with it and lay it back down while I collected by inner dignity.
Next thing I know I’m surrounded by three Masons all attending my possible woundedness. I got to my hands and knees and then managed a standing position, told my wife “I’m okay honey!” and staggered back to the couches trying to look as if I had done it all intentionally for entertainment purposes.
Nobody bought it … and I had to admit that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. I have a painful bruise on the right side of my hip to prove it. Over the years my arthritis thumbs have become painful in the same gripping place on both hands and the right thumb was mad at me for forcing it to hang on to a heavy marble sphere and throw it at a bowling lane.
Well … my dignity seems intact but the facade of athleticism ain’t. I’ll have to resort to saying “I wish I could still do that!” to folks with whom I am watching a flying dunk in an NBA game on television like I used to tell my kids when we watched Mike Jordan dunk from the foul line.
It was also helpful to take Lietta to Hogan’s Restaurant and eat a tuna melt with my co-masonic-bowlers.
And the jacuzzi at MUV the next day was good to my sore bones.