The bowling alley is a redneck hive. There are posters with graphics of Utah plastered to the back of every lane. Mullets connected to men who are wearing flannel shirts with the sleeves torn off and wicker cowboy hats with strings dangling beneath their chins hover over Budweiser pitchers. There is a whole table of women with both pitch black and bleached blonde Paula Deen hair styles harboring teenage latinas who are clacking their long nails against their phone screens while scrolling through friends feeds.
The interior looks like the inside of a church. It is plain, pastel, and blocky. The doors are made of light wood. This same wood trims the walls. It is a wood common to the church. My parents once got me a furniture set from The Bishop’s Storehouse which was made of this type of wood.
The Bishop’s Storehouse is a warehouse that sells large amounts of furniture which once belonged in churches or church related facilities.
There is a laser tag area located behind one of these lightly wooded doors. It is mine themed. The doors are painted to look like a mine entrance. It is a cheap looking decoration, hand made, like something my mom would make, being that she is in charge of the homemaking department in her ward.
There are some good looking video games. The one that most catches my eye is a game called Alien Armageddon. It has two rifles attached to the front of it. From the demos it looks as though the aliens have invaded Earth in large numbers. They are jumping from the rafters of ships, landing on people and crashing the ships into Earth by making them pilotless.
There are a couple of basketball shooters decorated with the Utah Jazz logo. An attractive mother is playing on one of them with her son. She has blonde hair with dark streaks in it. She is wearing a little black cardigan with a pink shirt underneath. Her son is walking in the netted off area where the balls roll down.
All the boys working behind the counter have red crew cuts and acne. They are wearing black polo shirts. There is one girl who says that Musette is an hour fast because she sees her watch is still set to Pacific time. I thought she was making a joke about how long it was taking the red headed soda jerk to fill our large fountain drinks.
I’ve never had as many large fountain drinks as I’ve had on this trip. It’s good to get them while driving in the moving truck, because there aren’t many opportunities to stop; but people get them all the time here, possibly because they never know when their next trip to the gas station is going to take place, and they love drinking soda so much more than water, even though water is all your body really needs as far as liquids are concerned.
These sodas are only making life harder on us. What are the benefits? Taste? The tingling effect of the carbonation? Is it worth it?
I got a rootbeer. It cost 2.50. My mom bought it. She bought everyone’s drinks. Musette got a Mellow Yellow. My sister and her husband both got sprite.
My mom wrote her initials on the lid of her cup. I don’t know what she got, but she was probably trying to avoid getting whatever Musette and I have. It is a good thing she did what she did, because I grabbed her drink once, lifted it to my face, and would have started drinking it had I not seen those initials.
Musette kept wanting to get cheese fries, but I kept keeping her from getting them, because the plan is to get Thai food later.
My sister brought her own ball. It is pink and black and the finger holes are lined with pink rubber. Our grandma got it for her. Our grandma is a competitive bowler. She goes to tournaments all around the country. Her son, my uncle, has bowled three perfect games. He has a ring. It’s a pretty big deal.
We pay for an hour. It costs my mom something like over thirty dollars. It is one of two ways to pay. You can also pay by the game.
I am entered first on the list. My dad is entered last. He enters a false name for himself. Everyone else is using their real name.
On my first bowl I roll the ball into the gutter. The second throw doesn’t go much better.
Musette is second in line. She always lobs the ball. It goes up in the air and then thuds back onto the lane before rolling into the pins.
My sister wins the first game. Musette says she has the most proper form. I bowl in a one handed sort of way. People say I could be reading a book with my other hand. My sister’s husband bowls in the strangest way. He holds the ball from underneath, cradling it like a baby. I don’t think he puts his fingers in any of the holes. I dont know where he learned this technique. It seems very unconventional. It produces a radical curving effect, which seems pretty unreliable. Sometimes the ball curves right into the gutter. I don’t really understand how a curve ball is supposed to help your game, but a lot of people aim for the effect. My grandma throws a curveball. Her method is much more conventional. She puts her fingers in the holes. She has given both my sister and her husband lessons. She told my sister’s husband that his form was bad. She said you are supposed to be able to bowl while sitting on the couch.
Musette takes pictures from the side of the lane, getting action shots of all us. There is no one on the lane to our right. It is the last lane in the alley. Number 26.
Our hour runs up just a few bowls into a second game. I ask my mom if it was more cost effective buying by the game or by the hour. She can’t remember.
She goes to get us another game. While she is gone this wild pack of young girls gets on lane twenty six. There are at least sixteen of them. They just keep coming. They investigate all of the balls we have in our combined ball dock. We have a lot of them. There is a size eleven with large finger holes, which I was using at first, before I moved to a size ten with large finger holes. Both Musette and I use this ball. It is orange colored and there are these weird, blackened indentations in the finger hole area. They look like they were burnt into the ball.
We just sit there, waiting for my mom. Our lane darkens. There is a long line waiting to get lanes.
“It’s too late…” Musette says, leaving our area with her large Mellow Yellow.
The girls are taking over.
My dad is twiddling his thumbs.
“Do not leave!” my sister yells, running back to us. “Mom got it!”
The lane lights back up.
The girls are shocked. Distress fills their faces. Their moms huddle to converse. One of them breaks away, approaching the counter.
“I’m moving the girls to another lane!” she says.
They need more than one. There are so many young girls…
Alone again, we start our next game.
“Did you pay for the hour or for the game?” I ask.
My mom doesn’t remember.
My sister’s husband enters our names. I am first on the list again. I approach.
‘I’m going to do better this time.’ I tell myself, impressed with how well I did last game.
The first ball drops directly into the gutter. The second ball clears most of the pins from the back row.
I give my dad a shrug of the shoulders.
During Musette’s turn another group gets on lane twenty six. They are competitive bowlers. They each have their own ball. One of the guys looks familiar, but I can’t place him.
My sister looks back at us with a hushed voice saying not to bowl at the same time as them.
“Did they say something?” I ask.
“No. It’s just the courteous thing to do.”
We clear as many balls as we can from the trough. The competitive bowlers have a pitcher of beer. Having them next to us throws everything off. We don’t talk as much as we had been. The spirit dies. We are less jovial. Our heads are swiveling like chickens’. We are self conscious.
The competitive bowlers become slower the drunker they get. We just stand there, waiting for them to make their turn.
The lane shuts off once our game is over.
“You must have paid by the game this time.” I say to my mom. “I am glad. I want to get away from them.”
“It’s really too bad they showed up…” she said.
We take all the rest of our balls to the trough and drop our shoes off at the desk.