We reached the first Anniversary of John's passing last Wednesday. I found myself deep in thoughts where I had not been in many years: The dreaded seven-ten split. It seems that no matter how I tried, I was not able to remember how to put enough of a spin on the ball to make the seven jump over toward the ten.
Ken thought that it would be a good idea to have a place where the tribe could gather, seeing as how we were all extremely aware of the impending milestone. As shocking and sudden as everything was last year, at least we had been spared the luxury of anticipation. He wanted people to be able to get together, but not to stand around and mope. Ken came up with bowling. First, he reasoned, it's loud. If people want to weep, no one will hear them. Second, people will be terrible at it, so it will be funny. And third, we've never done bowling as a group, so there won't be any old baggage. The lanes were booked and invitations went out.
Bowling. I hadn't actually held a bowling ball since I spent a year on a gay league in Milwaukee circa 1991. I was new in town and it seemed like a way to break the ice. I actually did own a ball and shoes, purchased at Kowalski's Bowling Supply on the South Side. The shoes were snow white and pristine when they emerged from the dusty bag. The ball was mottled orange. I had not recalled that detail. And it was monogrammed. That I recalled. It was three dollars extra.
Overall, the response was very positive and Ken set up food and drink for about 40 people. As we counted down, he mused about the party. "A Memorial Bowling Party" he quipped- "How White Trash is that?"
Well, just white trash enough to be fun, as circumstances would prove. As soon as people began to arrive, Ken kicked off the first game. I actually beat him by one pin in that round, but must admit that my game declined as a result of the blended Margaritas. I soon retired to drink and boast of my victory, same as any high school athlete would do. Dad would be proud.
We were a full house. Friends we knew from Classic Car Club events and from John and Ken's crazy parties came streaming in. Neighbors, some of John's childhood friends, art dealers who helped furnish the house. People who have known each other for years and never bowled together before. And it was great fun.
Lee, our matriarch, held court at the end of lane number three. She enjoyed a Vodka IV drip and presided over the surrounding. We joked about the evening Ken and I took her to the Abbey and passed her off as a famous film star. Good friends Peggy and Perry from the car club paraded in outrageous chartreuse and orange shoes. Marlena, dahlink, the transsexual who dated Rock Hudson. Maddy and David, prominent Art Deco dealers on Melrose. My "straight ex-boyfriend" Garth, who will never learn. I didn't get a chance to talk to Betty much, we couldn't drag her away from lane four. Everyone was bowling, and laughing, and alternately applauding each other or making fools of themselves. It was a splendid time.
There was a flood of thank-you calls the following day, everyone expressing what a great time it was. No tears, no weeping, much laughter, and a feeling that, with the passing of this milestone, a burden has been lifted. It's easier now. We'll always miss him, but we're doing okay.