The night was warm, with the mist of salty sea water hanging lazily in the sky, like a whisper of a passing lover, speaking sweet, soft poetry to the twinkling stars in the black velvet canopy above us....
Ok, i'll stop.
So, um, yea. Another weekend at Bradley Beach and Chris mentions about how we have to get out of the house and DO SOMETHING. Most of our weekends at the beach have been about grilling, drinking and hanging out at our house with other housemates and just enjoying each other's company...and I have been fine with that.
You, see, dear reader, I am sort of an extroverted introvert. Like you drop me into a foreign bar, with muscleheads, bikini babes, overly loud music that makes you scream to talk to the person next to you (WHAT? YOU STUDIED ARCHITECTURE? WHAT?) and other assortments of trolls and fools, and I will stand there, like a house plant, and drink my drink and talk to those i'm with and really be about as exciting as a fern can be. But, when it comes to hanging out with friends, people i'm comfortable with, i'm much more animated and fun, more social and talkative.
Simply put, staying inside, with friends, suits me just fine.
Sure, it does put a crimp on meeting women, but my attitude has always been just about enjoying myself, rather than trying to go bars and score women. I have never found that people really "meet" anyone at bars - everyone just sticks to their friends and rarely intermingle, and quite honestly I believe that you would be better off trying to make new friends, and meeting THEIR friends, than trying to get some random girl's number at a meet market bar.
But, to each their own.
Saturday, Chris says three magic words: Punk Rock Bowling.
My ears perk up. I like punk rock. I like bowling. Where is this magical land of candy trees and milkshake waterfalls?
Asbury Park, only a short cab ride away.
Chris, Lauren and I hop in a cab, and drive over to the bowling alley, which appears to my untrained eye to be older than me, in a neighborhood that can be generously described as "post nuclear abandoned civilization".
Remember that movie "Escape From New York" with Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin? Yea, that bowling alley would be a perfect backdrop, along with the crowd of people that were milling about outside.
They were the various driftwood of common society, bound together by alcohol, music and a fondness for tattoos. We had old greasy bikers, young post-Franz Ferdinand nerd types, fat goth chicks, hot tattoo princesses, and emo-riffic college kids scattered amongt the aging bowling alley lanes that were built before anyone knew who John F. Kennedy was.
I felt right at home.
This was my kind of scene. I enjoy being around this kind of crowd, and far away from the guidos who proudly look for themselves with their puckered smiles and pseudo-gang flashes on njguido.com.
In another day, age and not having parents who would have disowned me if I got a tattoo, I would have been much like the crowd at hand, having fun listening to good live music and chilling out in the cast off corner of the north jersey beaches. It was great.
It was a $10 cover to get in and an additional $10 to bowl. I laughed and asked if it was $10 per game, because I was so used to our outrageous prices to bowl up here.
No, it was basically $20 to bowl until your arms fell off, your fingers blistered or your rented shoes disintegrated off your feet..
To be sure, this was not bowling for those typical Hobokenites who are "pretty little snowflakes" and worry about what brand of sunglasses they wear or when it's martini night or when Green Rock is a bar they regularly frequent. No, to be sure, this was a bar for the punkers, by the punkers.
I have found that in my life I have always had the ability to be a social chameleon. As so much as I can make fern-related jabs at myself, I also am fairly good at hanging with all types of people - from punkers to Republicans to country gents to city slickers, I never really "stick out", with exception to my height.
The gang and I bowled all night, drinking various cocktails out of the house plastic cups, and listened to the band that was set up in the MIDDLE of the bowling alley, taking up about 4 lanes with a makeshift stage. The band would play about 8-10 songs, break down their equipment and a new band would set up and play some more songs. It was great until one moment.
We were at our lane, bowling and a group of three guys start to bowl next to us. I really don't pay them any attention until our bowling balls disappear. We had about 6 balls in the ball returner thing - and we were down to 2 when I say to them "Hey guys what happened to the bowling balls?"
Chris walks off to find a manager and see if they can discover why the lanes are gobbling up our bowling balls and not returning them.
The guys next to us give me the what?us?who?bowling balls? look and sit there. I take one of the remaining bowling balls, walk into their lane, and throw it down the gutter (remember this is an old school bowling alley, there wasn't any mega-computer that kept score - every game was scored by hand and since you could bowl all night, nothing kept track of how much we bowled).
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.
Five bowling balls return just as the goth manager approaches us and rolls her eyes and walks away.
About 10 minutes later one of the jackasses next to us throws a ball down the lane as the pin sweeper was down, and BANG! the pin sweeper gets jammed, with the bowling ball rejected, and sitting in the middle of the lane. The guys next to us sit there a look on their face, like when you get home from work, see the garbage from the trash can sitting all over the kitchen floor and your dog giving you the "I don't know how it happened? The trash can must have exploded on its own" look.
They used the bowling ball I was using and it was sitting in the middle of the lane, and I snarled at the offending bowler that he better not just sit there, but go out and get my ball back. He sat there with what I can only describe as an idiot savant look, and then Lauren, bless her heart, goes out and gets it herself.
Sadly, her nice action nearly gets us in trouble - the goth manager returns, yells at Chris saying that we are shut down and can't bowl anymore. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I was playing my best game of the night, we had 4 frames to go, and Chris and I were betting $20 against each other. I wanted to finish up, and then go home.
The other lane was dimmed, but interestingly enough, our lane wasn't. We wait for our lane to dim, and nothing happened. I guess the goth manager assumed we were bowling with the jerk offs next to us, and shut them down instead.
Ha ha ha.
We finish our game (I bowled a 174 and won $20 off Chris), wave to the children of Rain Man next to us and leave.
Even with all of that, it was just a fun time that if you are in the Bradley Beach area, and looking for something different to do that doesn't have the word "Parker" or "Edgars" in the title, it may be something you enjoy like me.