Harley Worth a Dime

Harley’s Bowl was where we rolled, almost every weekend.  The 60’s inspired single-story building towered over the otherwise empty field, unless the circus was in town.  The bleak architecture neither inspired nor dissuaded us.  The Nihilists  weren’t scripted yet, there were no Little Lebowski Urban Achievers.  No, it was the shine of the oiled lanes that drew us inside.  Well that and the nachos. 
Bloody Hell Quintana
That summer, Harley’s was our numero uno hangout.  With rented shoes and sore thumbs, we mingled with the drunks and degenerates who welcomed us with open arms.  We bowled our asses off, and when we were finished we would request a print-out of our scores, averages, and ranks.  We were bowlers, man.  I’m not afraid to admit that I bowled my best game when I was eleven years old.

Our friends’ parents usually dropped us off, and when we were done our parents picked us up.  The payphone was outside on the opposite side of the entrance.  The chipped blue metal box, atop a frayed phone book that dangled by a chain, was bolted onto the long white cinder block wall.  It was so depressing that even ET would pass it up.  My brother and I always checked the coin slot for an errant dime and when it wasn’t there, row-sham-bow was invoked to see who would make the collect call.  It was like asking a neighbor for flower, and though not afraid neither one of us were totally keen to do it.
“Operator, please press 2 to make a collect call.” The recorded lady always sounded attractive, though a little robotic.
“Press two dude,” said the winner of row-sham-bow.  “I know.  Shut up, man,” said the loser.
“After the beep, please state your name.”
“Peek Meyup,” said the loser.  It was important to say it quickly, without pause.  
527-0852 would ring, and once answered the following recorded message would play in the receiver: Collect call from Peek Meyup, press 1 to accept or 3 to decline?
Mom would snicker, press 3 to decline, and come pick us up.
That summer, we probably saved over three bucks.
Just before fall, the phone company, undoubtedly incentivized by the government, replaced the automated system with a real human being.  Once again, our jig was up.  The operator just wouldn’t believe that we came from a special colony in the mountains that named their kids after their first sentence.  So we walked, and my skinny legs became even skinnier.  Damn humans!
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Categories: Bloody Hell, Prompt, Rambling

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3 replies

  1. I just reread this – awesome times!!! It was true, that summer we bowled our asses off!

  2. I still drive by Harleys on occasion. My best memories of that place are in Hike School when Will and I had bowling that was somehow worth .5 credits..He would pick me up at 6:15 in the Riv, most days needing to honk and wake me up. Amazingly I would be ready in less than 3 minutes…have a smokey and bowl 2 games. Afterwards we would play ping pong while eating a McMuffin.

  3. Piiiiiiiiiiickmeup! Hahah, that was awesome. And btw – I rolled my best game at the ripe age of 19 thanks to UCSB intramural bowling. 216. Yes, really and I'll try to up it for the rest of my life. Pay phones may have disappeared from my life but I'm not going to let bowling completely go.

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