Everyone stood up. The men took off their hats, and people looked at the ground solemnly. We were having a moment of silence for Eddie McQuestion. I was, of course, crying. I think Eddie might have been the one who started the Friday night league at Dan Patch Lanes. Eddie died a few years ago, the year after he retired from bowling.
I remember his last night, because when he turned in his locker key, he said, “I was the only person to ever have this locker.”
Once you start crying, you never stop. The bowling banquet was tough. Tougher than I thought it was going to be. There was lots of clapping, standing ovations, congratulations, and for me and my dad, melancholy.
The hardest part was when the guy from Burnsville Bowl came in to do his spiel and the bowlers discussed moving the league to a different alley. I was horrified by the inappropriateness of the discussion, and my dad just looked like he was going to throw up the whole time. At one point, I leaned over to him and asked if maybe they couldn’t have done this at some other time.
He shook his head no. “They’re supposed to do this stuff at the banquet.”
I still hated it. It made me mad and protective of the bowlers. Bowlers who I started out despising eight years ago to adoring. When I started working at Dan Patch Lanes, all I wanted was for any of them to notice me, to pay a little bit of attention. At the end, I was always telling them to leave me alone.
While they talked about the new league at the new bowling alley, I was jealous. They’re all going to be together next year and I won’t be there. I don’t want to be there. But at the same time, i don’t want them all together without me.
During the question and answer session with Burnsville Bowl someone asked if Jodi was going to go with to tend bar. I smiled and shook my head. I’ve always maintained that I would retire with the building. I just never thought I would be so upset about it.
“They’re probably going to be nice to you at Burnsville Bowl,” I said to Kent as I left last night. “They aren’t going to know what you drink.”
He smiled at me. “You’ll have to come on down on Friday nights just to be mean to us.”
“I will,” I promised. “I will.”