Every once in a while you find yourself sitting on your couch at nine at night with a couple of guys, and you realize that you're all too drunk to do much besides sit on a couch -- but you can't stay there any longer because the football game's over and you're developing major bedsores and you're out of beer and you don't know any store in Denver that will deliver a case of beer and you've thrown up in too many cabs to have any hope of sending a cabbie to the liquor store. You rack the six brain cells left between the four guys, desperately searching for something to alleviate the increasing tension of remaining in one place even though it has a huge TV and staying there won't culminate in a conviction. Finally, to answering roars of drunken approval, one of you suggests: bowling.
On this particular night, though, we knew we couldn't go to just any bowling alley, because there were a couple of single guys in our group and they felt they deserved to meet women who still had all their own teeth. There were also women in the group, and they didn't want to go to a run-of-the-mill alley where the rental shoes were so infested that they'd have to bathe in penicillin for a week after wearing them. So we settled on Lucky Strike Lanes in the Denver Pavilions. We'd snuck into an opening party at Lucky Strike, and if the clientele we spotted before we got thrown out that night was any indication, we knew there would be plenty of attractive young ladies present, low-maintenance women who could relate to members of the Institute of Drinking Studies-- because even here, only low-maintenance females would risk being caught bowling within one time zone of their social circle.
But we were wrong. When we arrived at Lucky Strike, we saw no teeming masses of beautiful people throwing gutter balls -- it was mostly drunken guys with a few tag-along girls, and more sober guys sporting personalized balls and bags, wristguards and bad comb-overs. This was the first bowling alley I've been to that requires reservations (in Minnesota, bowling was our only winter alternative to drinking and having sex); it was also the first bowling alley I've been to with a long list of unacceptable attire. My personal favorite was the "No exposed intimate apparel" rule, which obviously didn't apply to the female staffers who were decked out in black with pink underthings so they'd be ready for the Madonna/Britney Spears convention later that evening. A real bowling alley has guys wearing hip waders, too-tight torn jeans, Iron Maiden T-shirts and hats proclaiming "Wine 'em, dine 'em, sixty-nine 'em" or naming the wearer "Official Boob Inspector." Female attire at a real bowling alley consists of sleeveless shirts stained with baby formula, twenty-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and blue eye shadow. It's unrealistic of Lucky Strike to expect to keep such salt-of-the-earth bowling-wear out of a nice set of lanes.
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Lucky Strike also misses the boat on really important bowling-alley rules. Avid bowlers are people who like to drink, and they created bowling, much as they created ice-fishing and fireworks, as an excuse to drink outside of the home. So bowlers need strict behavioral guidelines, or else we'll end up doing whatever the hell we think will get a laugh. We need rules like "No seeing who can throw the eight-pound kid's ball the furthest down the lane." (On this outing, we estimated our best distance at 28.75 feet.) Or "No racing down the lanes belly first." Without such rules, bowling will become uncivilized.
And at Lucky Strike, it's very civilized. Thanks to this new club, you can now say you're going out on the town for a night of bowling without people automatically assuming you finally saved up enough money for a night away from the trailer. When you go, though, make sure you obey the rules.