I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
Yesterday we had a little conversation about bowling while on our way to, of all places, McDonald's. One of the customers at my wife's morning job told her he was happy we now had a bowling alley in our neighborhood, but he wasn't so pleased the gas station across from it was still open because "he hates the owner."
Well, hating someone is his prerogative, I suppose. But I wasn't sure what to make of this bowling alley remark. We've been here for three years and haven't seen any bowling alleys. We usually go to Mainichi Bowl, which is a couple of miles away, when we (and by we, I mean the Royal "we", the editorial... because only I enjoy bowling) want to bowl.
"Maybe he was hallucinating," I told my wife as we gassed up the car. It had been on empty with the warning light the entire time and we barely made it to the ESSO. Which is a different station from the one owned by the hated man.
"What does that mean?" she asked. Her English is excellent enough to tell you about B.F. Skinner and operant conditioning, but there are some words here and there she doesn't know.
"You know, seeing things that aren't there. Maybe he loves bowling so much, he hallucinated a bowling alley."
She didn't think much of that theory, but she was too polite to tell me to cram it. So we went and ate. And yes, we heard mention of Chinese chicken and the food scandal in McDonald's. First I made some of my own typically corny jokes about wanting my McNuggets straight off the factory floor, then a group of junior high kids came in and my wife translated some of their comments about the same thing for me. We both ate hamburgers. And on our way home, as we approached the intersection where we usually turn, she said, "Look, I saw a bowling pin."
"I didn't. Where? Behind those pine trees?"
"I think the pine trees are hiding it."
We got past the trees and there it was, a giant bowling pin, white with a red stripe on the neck, standing atop the Aloma sign. Aloma is a big used goods shop where you can buy second hand surfboards and old manga, plus bicycles, watches, VCRs, jewelry and the kind of hobby gear that appeals to otaku. You know, plastic figures of nearly-naked anime and manga characters in sexy, come hither poses and robot model kits.
"There is a bowling alley," my wife said, grinning. "It's on the B1 floor."
"A bowling alley in the basement of the junk shop. We'll have to try it out," I said.
"My customer was right," she said. Then she pointed at the corner across from Aloma. "And that's the gas station where he hates the owner."
It was like walking into someone's short story for real. "Why does he hate the owner?" I asked.
"Maybe the way he treats the customers," she told me. "Are you happy?"
She meant about the bowling alley. I told her I definitely was, but I also hoped they had new lanes and not some salvaged from some old alley that had been demolished. The one where my friend Mike and I used to bowl every Sunday while forcing everyone to listen to Los Lobos, the Clash and Abba on the video jukebox system came to mind. They tore it down a month or two before Mike left Japan and we were both depressed over it for a few days. Then we started going to Mainichi Bowl, where they at least didn't do Disco Bowling and flash strobe lights in your eyes right as you made your approach, knocking you so off your game you guttered. True story. 8pm Sunday night the place went disco. Mainichi is for people who really want to bowl, not dance.
"You know, warped lanes and all that," I explained. "And shoes that have been worn a million times."
Then I thought, No matter where you go the shoes have been worn a million times.