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.
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, man, 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!
Originally posted January 28, 2011 from London.
Categories: Creative Writing
Great memories! I love your ‘pick-up’ line. 🙂
It reminds me of when I was a kid, too. We had a bowling alley within walking distance, but the one thing I remember about it was the drink machine, the old-fashioned kind that poured pop into a cup. We’d make ‘Swamp Water’ by turning the dial and getting a bit of every flavor pour into that cup. Good times.
Thanks for sharing your stroll down Memory Lane. 🙂
Ha, “swamp water” I love that. I think we called it a “Suicide” drink or something like that. Man, sometimes we need to just mix up a few flavors ya know? Thanks for sharing too!
Hysterical and soooooo mom !!!
Your word flow moves like smooth liquor down my throat and makes me pleasantly dizzy. Thanks for the buzz this morning.
That got a chuckle out of me (both your story and the photo).
I love it! I’m glad you got a laugh from it. It’s a true story!!!
I keep missing your posts so I am going to add you to my email and my neighborhood.
Oh no! But please do tell, what is your neighborhood?
I have a list on my site called “In the Neighborhood” It is where I keep up with the folk that I regularly interact with. It also helps us keep up with each other.
It is like a blog roll that doesn’t change like the blogs I follow does.