Here’s a fun trivia fact: I’ve never played an organized team sport. Not in high school, not even in college when I had a mild freak out that it was my last opportunity to be on such a team, to experience the camaraderie that can only be found running around with a bunch of other people all trying to achieve the same seemingly meaningless goal. While in school, I dedicated myself to the arts route, which left room for solo running and biking- activities where the only person counting on me was myself. The sports route never called to me. With one exception. A more fun trivia fact: I was in my middle school’s bowling league.
Oh yes, you read that right. Someone might argue this counts as an “organized team sport” but I don’t think they’d get too far without laughing. I would even have trophies to prove my participation had I not found it far more fun to take them apart- twisting little gold plastic bowling balls off little plastic arms. They really like giving middle school kids trophies. Let’s face it: I’d probably feel a void if I’d never received one. These trophies are a testament of my skill (“skill”)- I am better than your average “Let’s go bowling for fun!” bowler. I can’t make the ball curve like the pros, I still get excited when I get strikes but my score is always triple digits and gutter balls are practically unheard of.
I imagine there are places in the country where renting shoes, ordering a round, and playing a couple games is a fun, affordable past time. Perhaps this is as common as corn in the Midwest. In New York the idea of a night spent bowling is a considerable investment (read: mad expensive). Or so I thought until Time Out NY introduced me to the bar/bowling alley The Gutter.
The plan was to go bowling on my birthday. Which was in July. It never happened. Some how we thought we’d be able to travel from Mé Bar in Manhattan to The Gutter in Brooklyn. Maybe in some fantastical can-do universe this might be possible. In NYC, inter-borough travel is difficult on a good night. On a night when all your friends are buying you drinks, it’s near impossible.
So I’ve wanted to go bowling since July, and now I finally am with my Trader Joe’s Crush. We meet in Brooklyn, which is kind of a big deal for me. I’m not, surprisingly, the biggest fan of Brooklyn. It has this urban-suburban dichotomy going on that makes me feel like I’m in urban purgatory. I prefer feeling immersed in a city- with the skyscrapers of NYC or the hills of SF. But here we are on Bedford Ave which is quintessential Brooklyn. Lots of independent shops, great little restaurants, bikers in the bike lanes, and of course skinny jeans.
It’s nice to see someone you’ve only seen in a grocery store away from florecent lights, outside in fresh air. Still cute sans Trader Joe’s t-shirt. We grab a bite at a sandwich place before getting our game on. Conversation is as smooth as it was at check-out; by which I mean no awkward pauses, don’t worry I’ve ceased all ridiculous, calculated lines!
I’m still new enough to first dates that I can enjoy them. I like the element of the unknown, how everything is new and you get thrown curve balls you’d never expect. Like when he tells he’s… an actor. I should’ve known. Of course the minute I say “Maybe I shouldn’t date actors” and meet a guy at a completely un-theater related place, of course he’s an actor. Why did I not see this coming? I can’t avoid them (even when I try)!
Well…I can’t dismiss him just because he’s an actor. I would hate it if someone did that to me. I’ll just be wary of the fact. He’s just graduated from a two year acting certificate program. Hmm…I wonder if that means he’s young. And simultaneous with this wonder, he verbalizes: “How old are you?” Point blank, no mincing of words. I have no need for a coy reply, this lady sees no reason not to tell her age. So I give a point blank response: 23. “Really? You don’t look 23!” ..No? “You look younger.” That’s not something I hear often. The prevalent opinion seems to be I look/act/have an aura beyond my 23 years. Personally, I think I look 23, but what do I know? Well, actually what I do know is he is young. For sure. He must be to ask such a bald faced question not half and hour into a first date. But how young? How old are you? I respond. “How old do you think I am?” Erm, I stare in horror at the possible high school senior across from me, That’s not fair, I didn’t make you guess. And I’m a lady.
We both stare at each other in a moment of ...What does this mean? Should I just end this now? Will he/she end this now? Age is just a number? He breaks the pause, “I’ll be 21 in November.” Oh my. It sinks in. He’s not 21 yet! Uh oh…The Gutter is 21+. I didn’t even consider that could be an issue. I’ve only been 21 for two years but it appears that’s long enough to forget that some people aren’t. A New York cliché: if you are past puberty, live near the city but you’re under 21, you have a fake ID. It’s almost a given. This guy, however has nothing of the sort.
Thus the plan for this date is thwarted… which gives me the perfect opportunity to bow out… He’s 20, he’s an actor, and he’s mentioned his lease just ran up so he’s on his friend’s couch until he finds a new place (read: he’s homeless). That’s 3 strikes. Which usually means you’re out. Except in bowling. In bowling 3 strikes means you’re awesome…and bowling is supposed to be the name of the game.
I’m staring at a fork in the road: Oh, it’s too bad we can’t go bowling, I’d better get home then. Thanks for the sandwich, bye! vs. giving this guy a chance, even though he looks bad on paper, and coming up with a Plan B for our date.
What would you have done? What do you think I did? Can you stand the suspense? Stay tuned (and remember I love comments)!