The Observer spent Sunday afternoon at a bowling alley. The Observer cannot, it turns out, bowl. In our sock feet, we tried little steps up to the line, big steps up to the line, throwing the bowling ball, rolling the bowling ball. We tried to keep our eye on the pins. We tried to keep our eye on the little arrows in the lane. Yet, the ball went into the alley nearly every time.
For some reason that seems ridiculous in hindsight, we thought that after the passage of nearly 40 years, we would suddenly have turned into a bowler. Our last score, made during a Hall High gym class, was 9.
We don't know why we thought the wisdom and clearer understanding that comes with age would help our game. We got up into the 20s, but not because of our sagacity. It was because of all the young people around The Observer giving advice, trying to get us not to flip our wrist.
The teen-agers, it turned out, were really really good, the girls holding their own against the boys. There was a sort of disconnect for The Observer. These kids listen to music that would make your hair stand on end if you could make out the words. This observation comes from a person who sang “Why Don't We Do It In the Road” at the top of our lungs in our mother's company when the White Album was new. But doing it in the road is as mild as a summer day compared to the blue tunes emanating from your kid's iPod.
So here are today's teen-agers, surrounded by an increasingly crass society, up to their eyebrows in profanity and sex everywhere they turn, their innocence largely undone by the time they hit middle school, their skimpy mode of dress leaving little to the imagination, especially those parts no one wants to imagine. There they are having a good time in their sock feet in what has to be one of the dorkiest places in America: a bowling alley.
Speaking of the disintegration of polite society, The Observer notes that even the New Yorker magazine has slipped. It ran a fairly naughty cartoon in last week's issue, ironically enough in the February issue that annually features Eustace Tilley on the cover (the inspiration for our own monocled catfish above).
The Times has been known to print X-rated verbiage in its humorous sections. We look to the New Yorker for something a little more highbrow. We'd have liked to take our old issues to, say, the bowling alley, for the edification of the teen-agers and other non-subscribers there. Strike that, now.
Almost every day, The Ob-server wakes up, wipes that little bit of drool off of our chin, stammers down the hall and pours a nice bowl of cold cereal. Well, this weekend we decided we'd had enough nut-clusters, crunchy-o's and crispy crisps. It was time for a real breakfast. However, given the rather tough economic situation we find ourselves in, the refrigerator was a little less stocked than we would have liked. No bacon. No sausage. One egg. Gazing around we almost missed those bananas we bought about a week ago, their now-brown hue blending into the dark green countertop like mossy-oak camouflage. Wait a minute! Bananas, check. Egg, check. Sugar, check. Flour, check. It was banana bread time. Just like mammaw used to make.
Our grandmother was no stranger to tough economic times. The mother of eight, she knew how to stretch a budget and get the most out of what was lying around the kitchen. Heck, she even used to wash out plastic baggies for multiple uses. She would save the liner bags from the Cheerios boxes, cut them open, clean them and use them for wax paper. Now that's invention. So we set to work, melting butter, mixing bananas, splashing vanilla, dashing salt. Soon we were pouring the yellow mush into the pan. What came out of the oven was nothing less than a work of art.
We sat at the breakfast table, content with ourselves for making do, sipping coffee and breathing in that sweet smell. All of the sudden we were in mammaw's kitchen. We were young. It was breakfast. It was the start of a brand new day.