Later that night after a tryptophan nap Torrence and I prank-called Dalton and Mindy, which I guess technically isn’t prank calling since they knew it was us. Still it was fun to hear Torrence ask if their refrigerator was running. I’m sure he had no idea who Prince Albert was. He was like my own little Muppet repeating words into the phone that I whispered to him. He kept screwing up which made me laugh harder. If I wasn’t such a selfish only-child I’d have wished for a little brother.
Right away Dalton drove over after picking up Mindy. I was starting to revive after eating such a heavy meal. Meanwhile we helped clean up the kitchen. By cleaning up I mean we loaded the dishwasher. Mindy loved the crowns Dad made so I let her wear mine. It barely fit over her bandana headband.
We wasted a couple hours talking about what to do until Dad finally put our quibbling to rest by insisting we all go bowling.
Now, there is nothing I hate more than bowling.
Like what the hell is the point? Squeezing your fingers into an oversized marble that weighs probably thirty pounds and heaving it down a narrow track. It is an experiment designed to fail. And, fail I did. With great success! I don’t understand how to score, but thank god there’s an app for that. Except that overhead for the whole world to see was my miserable score. Like how can someone who bowls so badly be allowed into the place?
I sat there like a slug waiting for my turn and every time I rolled it down and the ball broke off into the gutter, Mindy clapped and said, “You get another chance!” Please, I felt like whining, Can’t this all stop?
Dad, of course, had his own shoes and ball in a matching carrying-case. He even had a cloth that he mopped the lane with. He’d strike (no pun intended, okay maybe a little bit) a pose of intense focus, staring straight ahead, his upper lip touching the ball, his other hand under it. Then, like a windmill starting up, he’d flail, his arms and body in a dervish, and by some kind of madness or stroke of luck the ball would be rolling right for the triangle of pins. The crash and falling of the pins amplified, stereophonic, all around me. It felt more like a battle zone than a bowling alley.
Mindy competed with Dad for the most contorted approach and release. She usually ended up on the floor after letting go. Dalton did everything perfectly—except his ball jumped a lane and ended up giving the people next to us a great score. Torrence surprisingly took the whole procedure seriously. Each time he knocked down a pin he’d whoop. He did a lot of whooping. Then he’d do a little dance that involved pushing his butt out and shaking it. He called the pins snowmen. “I got one!”
I thought maybe for Christmas I’d give him one of the many bowling trophies that come in at the Freestore and get his name engraved on it.
In a twisted way bowling was kind of fun. All of us hanging out together again. Like old times. Who am I kidding—old times were so far in the past that it seemed like light-years. I tried to think watching Mindy bowl—remember when we used to be on the same page. Twinsies, finishing each other’s sentences. Had we ever really been that close? Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. Mindy whirled, checked herself, then flung the ball halfway down the alley. Ding!
Her phone in front of me on the scoring table made a jingle noise. A text from Danny. I felt like deleting it.
Mindy finished and then checked her phone. She bit her lip and tucked the phone inside the bib pocket of her overalls
“What?” I asked like a neurotic Dalton.
Dad got up to bowl and Mindy took his seat next to me.
“That’s bullshit. I know nothing with you is something.”
Mindy smiled, then confessed. “Danny wants to come bowl with us."
Just great, I thought, the star football player wants to come rub my nose in this stinky bowling business. He’d show me and everyone else in the place up with his innate athletic prowess.
Then I thought—did I really care? About bowling? About anything? All I cared about was Mindy. Suddenly I wanted her to be happy.
“Sure. If you want him to.”
“Sort of. How would you feel?”
“If you want him to come then I’m down with it.”
She smiled hysterically and busily texted him. She looked up and gave me a peck on my cheek. “You’re the best.”
“That’s a goddamn lie.” I was quoting Fame and probably half a dozen other movies we’d watched together.
Dalton scored again—for the other team. They issued a half-assed invitation for him to come join them.
Dad rolled another strike. “That’s a turkey,” he shouted.
He was taking this Thanksgiving thing way too far.
“A turkey is three strikes in a row.”
Torrence came over and draped his arm over my shoulders. “I’m thankful,” he said, “for James.”
I wanted to say again that it was a goddamn lie. Everyone was being so nice and I felt like I didn’t deserve any of it.