This episode is dedicated to my friend Roberta Cruger, who I followed to my first Sunday Party, and diverted the course of my life forever. Follow her on Twitter and see where she’ll take you.
I love all my friends. I revel in the lives they have carved out for themselves. I adore their milestones of children’s birthdays and graduations. Grandkids, job changes, relocations. Sorrowful goodbyes of beloved relatives, friends and pets. I ride along on their trips and vacations and sit at their tables at restaurants and family holidays. My life is so rich because of them and I finally and truly understand the lyric’s of Carol King’s “Tapestry” because now I have one.
Having said that, I have to say the one friend that I stand in amazement of is my friend, Dog Davis. He is such an original and truly one of a kind. There is so much to him, it would take an entire entry to tell you about him and quite frankly, this, and all these episodes are about me, so I’m just going to tell you about the magic that happened to me when I went to Dog’s Bowling Birthday Party.
As in every unique thing he does, Dog hosted his Birthday Party at a small vintage Bowling Alley in Montrose, called Montrose Bowl. I think there are about 8 lanes and I had always wanted to go there, but it is a party venue and not open to regular bowling games, so you had to wait until someone you knew had a party there.
Luckily, I knew Dog.
I got the invitation through Facebook, while I was still living in the Little House From Hell. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. I was still trying to find my happiness and having some success, despite the numerous interruptions of my Crazy Landlady, and occasional phone calls from my parents, who kept telling me that they missed me. These phone calls were somewhat mystifying to me, because, as we all know by now, I actually had moved to Florida because they were supposed to move to Florida. Before then I had just been a voice on the phone. Since they didn’t move to Florida and didn’t even come visit while I was living there, I was still a voice on the phone. Once I moved back to California, I was still a voice on the phone, so I really wondered what, for them, had changed.
Along with finding my happiness, I knew I had to find something to do for a living. This was proving much trickier than finding my happiness. By this time, sometime around November, I had amassed quite a long list of things that made me happy. Most of which came from the doings of my friends, some silver, some gold, on Facebook. The only fly in the ointment of my happiness was the dark void of work.
I had no idea what I could do for a living that could offer me a living wage. I was 60, my decades as a Production Manager in film and TV were long behind me. I have limited secretarial skills, especially where computer programs were involved. I’m a terrible waitress and worse at retail sales. Every job that I had looked for online required elaborate and current resume. Many job postings were interpretable. Most of my friends I might turn to were looking at retirement or trying to hang onto the jobs they did have. I was terrified.
I had tried very hard to find some work in Florida. The work I had been doing was gone. I had been making wigs for a wig designer in Los Angeles for about 8 years and although she had told me that she would send me the work to do in Florida, she changed her mind shortly after I moved there and informed me of that change in an email. Class.
A lot of people in my life seemed to have changed their minds about a lot of things that affected me while I was in Florida.
But Dog was not one of them. I was thrilled to have gotten the invitation. I needed a party to go to and Dog found the perfect place to hold it for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons is that I really like to bowl. A bowling alley was one of those places where we could go to as kids, all alone, sans grownups. I’m sure that our parents were thrilled to have us go to a place where we could have fun and get out of their hair for an afternoon but I’m not so sure the Bowling Alley management enjoyed so much having us there as we pretty much ran riot over everything. One of my favorite memories of the bowling alley was the grilled cheese sandwiches they served at the snack bar. They were delicious.
Another reason was that Montrose Bowl was a vintage bowling alley, which gave me the opportunity to wear a vintage costume.
It’s a small problem that has plagued me almost my whole life. I am willing to do almost anything if it requires wearing a costume to do it. I once considered becoming a Doctor because of those white coats and stethoscopes, but I hate blood and I am deathly afraid of needles. I also have no patience for sick people so that just wasn’t going to work.
But I had the perfect outfit for Dog’s Bowling Party at Montrose Bowl. Several years ago I had made myself a 50’s swing dress in a weird pattern lined with an off white satin. I had only worn it once, because really, where do you wear those kinds of dresses anymore? It didn’t fit when I made it and it still didn’t fit, but I loved that dress and I wore it to Dog’s party.
It was a great party with all of Dog’s friends, a group of people he had met during his adventures on the planet. Some were from his tours of every Tiki Bar he could find to visit, sample the various Tiki libations and befriend and become a beloved patron. Some were from his poker-playing expeditions, sitting at very high stake tables in some high-class poker playing establishments. Some were part of the group I belonged to, an odd ball group that would show up at the home of Joe Rhodes, a great writer, every Sunday afternoon, at what was known as Joe’s Sunday Party. An accurate description of the event, if not a great literary locution. (Read Joe’s NY Times article about how his Aunt Margie ended up in the deep freezer here, or watch the movie with Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine here.) We were a colorful group.
At Dog’s party, there was music, there were vintage outfits of every type, there was wine and snacks but sadly no grilled cheese.
And there was bowling. Balls of every color went careening down the lanes with varying success of pin hitting. Scores were started then abandoned after the second or third game in favor of just rolling the ball down the alley. Teams were started then scattered and reformed as people stopped to talk or drink or say hello to friends who arrived fashionably late.
I think I had the best time of all. For the entire time of the party, I forgot everything that had happened to me in Florida, in the Tiny Trailer and at The Little House From Hell. I danced and swirled in my 50’s swing dress. I threw bowling balls with abandon in aisles not even my own. You would have thought it was my birthday party. I never wanted the evening to end. I was more truly, truly happy than I had been in a very, very long time. I knew that the next day I would have to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I bought Dog a birthday present but his party gave me the best present ever, because the very next morning my future came knocking at my door. And it wasn’t, thank God, my landlady.
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