Tonight, we bowl!

The only lessons I ever had as a child, the only skill my parents paid someone to help me perfect, was bowling. Full disclosure,  I think the bowling coaches were part of our weekly fees, so it wasn't like I was getting individual, private lessons, but getting lessons was a fancy thing for a working class kid in 1981 however you came by them.

I was on a blowing league for a couple of years, the River Mites at Riverside Bowl, and me and the Hines girls and a bunch of other hooligans who generally were older and scarier than me ran wild on Saturday mornings. We ran wildly through the bar, through the reception hall and in and out of the many entrances to the building, chasing and teasing and hiding beyond coat racks and ball stands and under pool tables. Parents generally dropped their kids off and picked them up later, so we were low on adult supervision; it's difficult to imagine a scenario now in which parents would drop off their six-year-old at a bowling alley and come back for them three hours later. What a different world. Most of my memories of that time would not exists if they happened in the world of today's helicopter parents. Most of my childhood memories don't involve adults at all.

Until a few years ago I maybe even remembered the name of the coaches, but now my brain is older and mushier and I only remember the rough polyester of our zip-neck red bowling shirts and the sense of chaos that always had to do with the Hines family and Riverside Lanes and the annual Halloween Party. Here is a photo of me in my clown costume one year.

Yes, I bowled in that. Don't I looked happy? In the wide shot, everyone else looks like they are having much more fun, but there I sit sad and quiet with lipstick smeared all over my face.

My whole family liked bowling. When we were healthiest as a family, dad had his bowling night and mom had hers. Since I was always desperate to learn and take lessons at anything, the fact that they gave me bowling lessons suggests a certain intuneness with what I was about and needed intellectually and emotionally. Or, not. Maybe it was just a fluke. I remember desperately begging for all kinds of things: lessons, books, magazines. But it's probably I just yearned for them so desperately I imagined more begging than I actually did. I was realistic even as a child and probably knew there were no ballroom dance lessons in my future even if I begged.

What I really wanted throughout childhood was guitar lessons. My dad and some of his friends played guitar--old Hank Williams songs and three-chord classics--and when we'd go camping they'd play around the campfire--really they did. I so wanted to be a part of this. (In my alternate universe life I am a musician.)

Onetime he took me down to Kephart's music to try out guitars and talk to the guys about lessons. I actually got to hold a child's guitar in my hands, but we didn't buy it. At that point my dad promised when my hands got bigger I could have guitar lessons on an adult guitar. My hands got bigger of course, but I never got those lessons. Life moved on in many unfortunate ways. The take-a-way from this experience was to not make promises nor to expect others to keep them. I figure I'm probably not much better at keeping promises than he is, so why make them? I wanted my dad to be a good man then, but no amount of wishing it makes it so. I still do really.
There are just promises we shouldn't make and could never keep even if we did.

There are just promises we shouldn't make and could never keep even if we did.

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