Cake Woman got her new bowling ball yesterday and had it drilled almost immediately. She decided that it would be more cost effective to bowl for $1.50 a line in the morning than for whatever ungodly sum it is in the evening, so this morning we headed out bright and early to the Blainbrook Entertainment Center to break in her pearl blue ball. We were the first people to bowl, so when Cake Woman finished entering our names (”Death Cougar” for her and “Bilbo” for me), our lane broke the silence with a roar of machinery springing into action.
The first time she rolled the ball down the lane she got a glorious, resounding strike. After that her bowling wavered as she got used to the slippery new ball. I ended up winning the first game through no skill of my own. I did manage one strike and some spares, but I’m still a ways away from the sort of consistency that I desire. At the end of the first game we changed lanes from nine to eleven because lane nine was malfunctioning. Cake Woman said “this one goes to eleven” before heading out to her car for some lotion. I moved our stuff and checked more bowling balls for a good fit. I found a fourteen pound ball that seemed almost as comfortable as the twelve pound ball that I had been throwing. I was just swinging the new ball that I had picked when Cake Woman came back.
“Hey, jerkface, I’m up first,” she said. Amusingly, “jerkface” is our safe word.
“Just a second,” I said as I switched to the twelve pound ball for a trial swing.
It was definitely a better fit. I brought both hands forward and then dropped my right hand, just as though I were taking a real swing, except that there was a loud “clunk” when my hand came back.
“We have to go to the hospital,” she announced. I turned around, confused. I thought that I had hit her ball, which was a terrible sensation — I didn’t want to be the one who put the first dent in her new blue baby.
“What?” I asked.
“We have to go to the hospital,” she said again. She showed me her pinky finger, which was rapidly turning red and purple. It was twisted and she wasn’t able to move it.
“My finger is broken.” she continued.
My brain cut through a surge of adrenaline to make a check list of things to do: change my shoes, put away the balls, and pay for our first game. I sat down to change my shoes in a pocket of calm, but Cake Woman interrupted it with name calling and insistence that I move faster, since I was holding up the works. I tried to focus on my breathing, but I was overwhelmed with that “oh shit” sensation.
Prior examples of that “oh shit” feeling:
- Accidentally kicking Conrad’s little brother square in the nuts
- Knocking Conrad’s $125 computer keyboard off of his desk, breaking three or four of the keys
- Almost starting a forest fire in the ravine behind Sean’s house
- More than one car accident, all involving icy roads
- The one time I didn’t lock Lisa’s bike in the laundry room and it was stolen that night
- Broken condoms requiring the morning after pill
Usually these things lead to me having to spend money that I don’t have. In any case, I’m normally pretty good in a crisis situation. I can usually channel my nervous energy into careful motion and thought as I do whatever things need to be done. Unfortunately, once I had paid for the bowling, there was nothing left for me to do, since Cake Woman doesn’t let me drive, so I just sat in the car with my hand on her thigh while she drove and called me names. Eventually she sent me off to work and she went on her own to the hospital.
“Well, boy, you broke me,” she said when she called from the emergency room. $70 in co-pay, three X-rays, a splint, and some vicodin later she is apparently fine enough to demand a fancy dinner. It’s a good thing that I just got paid.