As it turns out, I don’t look quite as sexy in bowling shoes as I had hoped. In fact, with my black tights, gray skirt and black blouse, I look plain ridiculous in the white Velcro loafers the attendant’s given me but I use my superb sense of humor to deflect the Man from Marshalls’s attention from my feet.
After the requisite contemplation and not-so-requisite hummus consumption at my co-worker’s art show, we decided to head up to Northern Liberties (which, for those of you who don’t know, happens to be the hipster capital of Philadelphia). Northern Liberties is also home to North Bowl and even though I detest bowling shoes, and the three-hour wait that usually accompanies at game at North Bowl, I do love a good game of bowling.
I’m not sure when I became so pro-bowling. For starters, I’m terrible and I have no desire to improve my skills because I’ve always looked down upon people who excel at lame “sports” like bowling. What with all those embroidered polo shirts and monogrammed bags—don’t they have anything better to spend their money on? (My first serious high school crush had his own bowling bag and he was a lovely guy but I should have known then that things weren’t going to work out between us.)
Nonetheless, I generally hit my stride around the fourth frame and this evening is no exception. I start off slow (read “awful”) but then I pick up steam and manage a couple of spares and a strike before I peak, as I always do, around the seventh frame. This is when my male companion(s) usually surge ahead, thereby reclaim their masculine dignity.
The Man from Marshalls, however, does not surge.
“I’m a bowling shark,” I inform him as I accidentally lob one into the gutter.
“A shark?” he laughs. “Really? If that’s true then how come we don’t have any money riding on this?”
Money. Right. Obviously I missed that lecture in Hustling 101.
When I reach for my ball, the Man from Marshalls manages to slip his fingers through mine. Not for long—I have serious bowling to do—but just long enough to confirm my suspicions: he likes me, despite the fact I’m better at bowling than he is.
A few frames later, undeterred by his evident lack of hand/eye coordination, he brushes his hand across my hip. In retaliation (and in accordance to basic Kindergarten flirtation techniques), I attempt to trip him on his next turn.
When it becomes clear, however, that I’m going to break a hundred and he is not, I get a bit worried. I decide I should stop trying to trip the Man from Marshalls and before I know it, I feel like I’m hiking in New York all over again. Girls aren’t supposed to beat their male companions to the summit. Girls aren’t supposed to pitch their tents unassisted. And girls are not supposed to win in sports. (Of course, the classification of bowling as a “sport” is a bit of a stretch but something tells me that the same principles apply.)
If I want the Man from Marshalls to like me, I have to lose.
But if I want the Man from Marshalls to respect me, and if I want to respect myself, I have to win.
My brain cells bounce from one option to the next like an army of deranged ping pong balls. Win. Lose. Win? Lose? Win! Lose! I really want the Man from Marshalls to like me, but it’s not in me to lose. (For this, I blame my parents. My dad recently confessed that he never, ever intentionally let his children win when we were growing up. Evidently my competitive nature is genetic. And genetics are tough to alter.)
So I win. The Man from Marshalls manages to break 90 but he never reaches triple digits. He doesn’t seem terribly bent out of shape, however. In fact, he seems more interested in watching me zip back into my knee-high boots, but just in case he’s still smarting from his defeat, I assure him that I’m terrible at pool.
We leave the bowling alley and wander back towards the car. By this time, it’s starting to get dark and the crescent moon is visible just above the skyline.
“Check out the moon!” I exclaim. “It looks really cool!”
(Good thing I have such an impressive vocabulary at times like these.)
But the Man from Marshalls doesn’t seem to care about my inability to describe celestial phenomena, nor does he seem to care that I’ve just beaten him at the bowling alley, or that we’re standing on a rather run down but nonetheless public street corner in Northern Liberties.
He wraps his arms around my waist and tilts his face down towards mine. Lips parted, bosoms heaving and lungs already aching in anticipation of a major oxygen deficiency (one of these days I’ll remember to breathe while kissing), I close my eyes. But then I remember that I’m meant to be doing research, and an anthropologist is only as good as her observation skills, so I steal a quick glance into his eyes just before he closes them and, lo and behold, they are indeed blue.
(Check back tomorrow morning for the third and final installment of my marathon second date with the Man from Marshalls.)