In April of 2005, I was at a silent auction, jacked up on cheap wine, and impulsively bought a gift certificate for a Bowling Party for Five. I was like, "Bowling! Yay! I'll take the certificate and 6 more glasses of this incredible wine!" The gift certificate was for Bryant Lake Bowl here in Minneapolis. When the place first opened in 1993, I said (out loud, to many people), "That place will never make it". Of course, the BLB is now a "nationally known restaurant, bar, bowling alley and theater located in South Minneapolis". I also said that the Mall of America would never last, so, as you can see I am the ultimate prognosticator of commercial success here in Minnesota. The gift certificate expired in March of 2006 which gave me nearly an entire year to arrange child care and plan a night out on the town with 4 friends. On February 28th of 2006, I called the BLB to request an extension and just like that I had another entire year to arrange child care and plan a night out on the town with 4 friends. Yesterday, February 27th 2007, I was talking to a friend when I suddenly remembered the damn gift certificate and its impending expiration. Part of me just wanted to throw it away and forget about it. The gift certificate had come to symbolize shopping under the influence and my inability to create a social life separate from my children. The other part of me, well, that part of me is cheap and hated to throw away money. So, I casually asked my friend if she might be available immediately for a little bowling party. She jumped at the opportunity and I wrangled one more friend into it and before I could say, "Hipster Bowling Alley", I had arranged a bowling party for three.
I picked up my friends at 8 p.m. and we headed off for an exciting night on the lanes. I haven't been out in the evening on a weekday in a very long time and 8 o'clock seemed like midnight to me. When we arrived, I was shocked to find all the lanes taken and many tables occupied. I felt like a tourist in Cool Childless People Land and tried not to gawk. Everyone seemed so awake, so relaxed, so unlike everything I've been feeling like lately. There was lounging and complete conversations. We found a table, sat down and ordered beer and appetizers. With wild abandon, I tried a new beer - the Victory Golden Monkey. My friend tried a Rogue Dead Guy. I felt ridiculously giddy as we ordered beers with funny names. A grown woman shouldn't titter when ordering a beer. I felt like Grandma sneaking the bourbon balls at Christmas. We drank. We ate nachos and mock duck rolls. We bowled a game and a half (we couldn't finish the second game because we are old and because we might have been a bit sluggish from our super cool, high octane beers). We talked and could complete sentences without being interrupted to take someone to the potty. At 11 p.m., as we started to wind down, people continued to arrive. Arrive. I looked at them with the same wonder that people look at the monkeys that jump on the hoods of their cars during tours at those wild animal parks. We left the young'uns to their fun and got back in the car, one friend in back wedged between carseats, the other in the front kicking goldfish crackers off the floor mat, and went home to our partners and kids.