I went downtown to L.A. Live the other night to try out a cool nightclub called Lucky Strike that promised to be the “most exciting foray into chic entertainment,” but instead became a head-on collision with my past.
It was a bowling alley.
That’s right, that thing you used to watch on Saturday morning after Rocky & Bullwinkle was over and Wide World of Sports came on, has been transformed into a trendy nightclub scene, complete with music videos loudly playing on big screen panels above the pins and dark, groovy lighting on the lanes, and hipsters with tats and weird facial hair knocking back $25 cocktails.
Just seeing the score sheets, hearing the explosive sound of a strike, and smelling the shoe spray brought me back to my glory days, in another life, on the Professional Bowling Tour.
Oh, to live that life again, with the screaming fans, the massive endorsement contracts, the cross-country jaunts on oversized, completely tricked-out tour busses (there is nothing like having a cocktail and a massage while watching the big screen as you roll on into Omaha).
And the groupies. Did I mention the groupies? Rock stars think they have groupies, but bowling groupies are totally nuts. They have nicknames like “7-10 Splitter,” “Gutter Ball Babe” and “Hook Alley Annie.” They are relentless in their pursuit of their favorite bowlers, and won’t let up until they’ve bagged three for the Groupie Turkey.
Ahh, but I let it all slip away. First, there were the unscrupulous money managers who frittered away my fortune. Then the tabloid rumors started. After that, the positive drug tests for HGH and steroids – I guess I shouldn’t have let my right arm get so big. The lost endorsements. Then the drinking. Oh, the drinking. And the ex-wives. So many ex-wives . . .
And before I knew it, I was sitting on the curb outside the Pickwick Center in Burbank, begging for spare change just so I could bowl a line and maybe hustle a burger and a beer.
The memories were still too raw, and the scene too unfamiliar, so I backed out of the Lucky Strike and headed for home, grateful for my second career in whatever the hell it is that I do now. Tragic story, really. So I thank you listening. I’m going to do better this time around, and stay off the deer antler spray.
Though the lights aren’t as bright now, at least the groupies still hang around my car. Well, okay, those are my kids.