On New Year's Eve I went with my husband and our baby to the local bowling alley. As I sat there, waiting for my turn it occurred to me that some of my most embarrassing moments happened at a bowling alley.
When I was in high school I went bowling with some friends and, while in search of the women's restroom, accidentally walked into the men's restroom. Mortified by my mistake I bolted out of there as fast as I could to try and put as much distance between myself and the men's room as I could. Unfortunately for me, the kid standing at the urinal when I walked in, chased after me to ask: "Hey! You just walked into the men's room. You know that right?" No kidding! 'Cause the urinals weren't a clue.
I can't remember which lie I told him in response. It was either; "That wasn't me. That was my twin sister" or "Yeah. My friends dared me to." Either way, I thought, at the time, I'd never live through that.
In college, I went bowling again with a group of friends. When it was my turn to bowl, I went up with my ball and as I pulled my arm backwards, dropped the ball and watched it fly across three lanes. I was so humiliated my boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend - I can't remember which) went to retrieve the ball for me. Personally, I think it takes talent to throw a ball backwards and sideways but I didn't see it that way at the time.
The biggest bowling alley moment of my life came in 2011. My husband was in training in Pensacola and I flew out to visit him. He and his study group made arrangements to meet a bowling alley on a Sunday afternoon. When we arrived the place was dead. His group was off to one side studying and I went with a friend of mine to bowl while they worked.
As we were looking for our assigned lane, I missed the step down, twisted my ankle and did a face dive onto the floor. Added bonus: because the place was so empty; everyone and I do mean EVERYONE heard me fall. Yes, that's right - my husband's entire study group was there to witness the event.
Oh wait there's more! Three weeks later I found out I was pregnant. And since my husband was in training in Florida and I'm not an adulterous skank, the only weekend we could have conceived was the same weekend I sprained my ankle at the bowling alley. Husbands who trained with mine now tell a cautionary tale to all of their friends about how you should never take your wife to a bowling alley unless you're ready to be a parent. (Sigh) Lovely.
Since I'm the reigning queen of TMI I would like to go on the record as saying that I'm far too classy a person to have sex in a bowling alley. My child was, in fact, conceived in a cheap motel room in Pensacola (No. They didn't rent rooms by the hour).
As I was saying, the trip to the bowling alley this past week was inspirational for a number of reasons. It not only inspired this post but it also reminded me that every humiliating, mortifying, go-into-the-witness-protection-program moments I thought as a kid I'd never survive have left me with moments I can now laugh at and, if necessary, provide me some rich material to work with in my novels. All of these things that happened fall under the category of "Couldn't make up if I tried." Thus creating genuine and original material if needed.
To my readers: When you find yourself reading a novel and come across a really funny scene or a scene where the main character is so embarrassed you feel your own face blushing; take the time to wonder: Where did the inspiration for this scene come from? A movie? A song? Or maybe, the author had a really bad day at a bowling alley.
To my fellow writers: Don't hide from the embarrassing and unforeseen spares that life throws your way. Bowl with them - Embrace them, collect them, write them down. You never know when you might have a need for them. I don't know if bowling alleys will ever have a place in my novels but if they do, I'll be all set.
As for my day at the bowling alley. After three games my total score was 232 - which I understand isn't really that great. On a more positive note: I stayed out of the men's room, kept my ball in my lane and walked out with neither a crutch nor a fertilized egg. As far as I'm concerned it was a great day!
Here's to 2013! For some it means a clean slate and an opportunity to put the mortifying memories of 2012 to bed. For me it'll be a year of face-blushing moments (when it comes to clumsy, I'm gifted) all of which I'll safeguard in my writing journals and use in one of my stories.
Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by!