Last night I went to "Rock 'n' Bowl" with Alex.
It was sponsored by his elementary school's PTA, I believe, and basically this was the mother and son answer to the father/daughter "Sweetheart Dance" two weeks ago. Bill said the dance consisted of really loud, pounding music and Julia and her friends running around together playing tag and eating cookies and pizza. And more cookies. And the dads stood around the sidelines sneaking glances at their watches.
Rock 'n' Bowl was a blast.
I didn't know what to expect. Strange as this may seem, I'm not the wild, rockin' mama you have probably assumed I am. And I had no idea what this whole Rock 'n' Bowl thing was about.
But I suspected it involved, well, rockin' and bowlin'. I just wasn't sure how much rockin' I was supposed to do.
And, like so many other social situations in my life (school, ballet and tap recitals, parties of any kind, trips to the grocery store), the prospect of going stressed me out.
What should I wear? Bill and Julia dressed up for their dance. Was there some sort of outfit or style required to rock 'n' bowl? I had this fear that it was somehow a fifties theme…a fear nearly confirmed when my friend, Ralph, called to say hi and when I told him about the upcoming event, he asked if I had my poodle skirt ironed. No, and I don't even OWN a poodle skirt anyway.
But the worry that maybe I SHOULD have one drifted around in my mind, and I briefly thought "I could make one!" before crumpling that idea up and tossing it in the trash. Sure, I probably could make one, but when would I ever wear it again?
So instead, I went out and bought a pair of jeans. I know. Why, when I'm already feeling my faintly agoraphobic urge to try to talk Alex out of going so I could stay home, safe in my hermit crab shell, would I go out and try on jeans? Must be the senility.
I discovered, among other things, that I am too short to purchase clothes made for today's women. I didn't notice everyone around me going through growth spurts, but apparently that's what happened, because the jeans I tried on in one store were clearly meant for women a good half a foot taller than I. So I went elsewhere. This time there was a larger selection of styles AND a larger selection of heights. And, happily enough, I discovered that in THIS world, I am REGULAR, rather than too short. So I tried on some jeans, and some other jeans, and you know what? I hate shopping for clothes. I don't like mirrors, and I don't like trying things on and I don't like looking at me in the mirrors while I am trying things on. But despite all this, I managed to find a pair of jeans that seemed to look okay while still allowing me to breathe. Home I went.
Anyway, an hour or so before we had to leave, I had Alex take a shower so he could wash the day's worth of playing-outdoors grime from his fingernails and neck and nostrils (what the heck was he doing with dirt up in there???) and ears and everywhere. Then I asked him to pick out something nice to wear.
And he did. He looked very nice. So nice that I had to take a few pictures. I asked him if that was okay, and he told me to wait a minute while he set the dinosaur book he was looking at down on the dining room table and sat down and said "Why don't you take a picture of me reading?"
So I did.
Then, after a moment of staring at him while he stared at the book, I asked if, maybe, he could look at the camera.
So he did.
So he did.
Anyway, shortly after this, we headed off to Rock and to Bowl. All the rockin' fun was due to start at 6, but we were supposed to arrive early so we could have our pictures taken.
You may have noticed a lack of pictures of ME on this website, and that's just how I like it. I don't like having my picture taken. (Why am I so darn negative in this post? Don't like social situations, don't like trying on jeans, don't like my picture taken…what a grouch!) Anyway, still, I don't really like being photographed. I blame it on growing up with a photographer for a father, but that's not really it at all. I am just self-conscious and stupid. So I hide behind the camera most of the time, partly because I enjoy taking pictures (thank you, photographer father), but also because if I'm taking the pictures, odds are I won't have to be IN them.
This was important to me. We have the official photo from the father/daughter shindig, and I wanted to have a mother/son photo to go along with it. No matter what I looked like in it.
And that could be interesting. We were the second mother/son combo in line (because I'm obsessively punctual) and the set-up featured a bouquet of red and white balloons to the side of the stool where the son would sit. Fine. Festive. The photographer – a rather dour looking older woman with tan skin that had the faint wrinkled look of having been subjected to a lot of sun and not a lot of sunscreen over the years – had Alex sit on the stool and then had me stand behind him. I took off my glasses for the picture, and I was holding them in my hand when she told me to put one hand on his shoulder and one hand on his arm, and I tried modifying this by keeping that hand (the glasses-holding hand) slightly behind him, and jolly photographer woman growled "you're gonna have to do something with those glasses" at me, and I thought fleetingly of eating them, just to comply quickly, but instead I put them down on the floor nearby and went back to my position behind my son. And then a white balloon head-butted me. The bouquet of balloons was, in my humble opinion, too close to where the moms were to be standing. And either static electricity or my green apple shampoo had attracted this one balloon to stick to the right side of my head. I tried to move away from it. I batted it away (which probably really annoyed grouchy photographer lady) and it promptly and predictably bounced right back at my head. I gave up and tried to obey the directions on where and how to stand behind Alex, all the while hoping I could somehow hide my hips behind him even though I was sort of supposed to be standing slightly beside him. She had us smile. Click. She had us say "cookies!" Click. I realized Alex wasn't smiling. "Say the word!" I hissed at him. She had us say "money!" Click. And we were done. Personally I think if she was actually GIVING us money while she had us say it, we'd have smiled bigger. Or better. God knows what I looked like. I was probably hissing directions to Alex out of the corner of my mouth and smiling "cookie" or "money" out of the other side.
Once that was done, we hung around watching to see who else was arriving and what sort of food was being put out on the tables.
Eventually the bowlin' part began. They whole bowling alley was in use, and they'd grouped the kids according to grade. Second grade was in lanes 15-18, and we ended up in lane 16 with a couple of Alex's friends and their moms. We had a fun group. I already knew one of the moms, and I'd seen the other one here and there. We got all our names listed on the automatic scoring thingy and then we were off and bowling. The music started around then, too – a loud mix of current and classic rock and dance stuff. Lady Gaga, Journey, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson (Thriller era and before), Queen, Beastie Boys, and other stuff I vaguely recognized but couldn't tell you who sang it because, again, I'm really not the wild rockin' mama you think I am.
We played two strings, and – oh you have no idea how happy this made me – Alex came in second in our little group in the first string. First place was one of the other moms. I came in dead last. But I didn't care. Alex was overjoyed about his score. Not sure if I wrote about this last week or not, but he went to a birthday party at the bowling alley a week ago, and he didn't do as well as he'd hoped, and he wasn't entirely looking forward to last night's excitement. Bill told him to just keep his wrist straight, don't twist it, and he'd do fine. And he did. And he was leaping in the air and smiling so bright they shut off the other lights in the building. (Not really.) So – yay. He didn't do as well in the second game, but after a brief bout of misery, he was back to fooling around with his friends and being silly and – the important part – having fun.
And there was food. Pizza, chips, pretzels, popcorn, and cookies. And juice and water and punch and iced tea. Alex ate too much. Oh, and there was also one of those machines where you have a sort of joystick thing and you make the claw inside the machine go down and grab candy. Yeah. Alex brought quarters with him so he could buy (and eat) candy. He was a bit full by the end of the night, and he blamed his lower score in game two on the excess sugar. Hahaha.
Now, in addition to the overall fun of the night, and the joy of watching Alex do well and bounce back after NOT doing well, there were these kids…well, let me back up. The DJ was set up in the corner, behind the last few lanes after ours. So we were pretty close to the dance party action that was going on over there. And among all these boys dancing and hopping around with youthful enthusiasm and puppy-like grace, there were these two boys in particular – Alex said they were in the fourth grade – who had the Michale Jackson moves DOWN. Really. They were amazing to watch, and they drew a bit of a crowd. They might even have been brothers – they sort of looked alike, skinny little-boy bodies, sandy colored hair, similar faces. Who knows. But they danced to "Beat It" and "Billy Jean" and they had the choreography memorized. And the lyrics, because I could see them singing along as they strutted and moonwalked and popped and shrugged and, yes, grabbed their crotches and wiggled their skinny little hips. They were incredible.
And the highlight of their various performances came very near the end. I was watching Alex bowl, I think, when over the loudspeaker I heard, in this little, piping, pre-pubescent voice:
i said a hip hop a hippie to the hippie
to the hip hip hop, you dont stop
a rockin to the bang bang boogy say upchuck the boogy,
to the rhythm of the boogity beat
Yeah. They knew the WHOLE SONG. The two of them. These two little fourth grade boys. And this time, a lot of the bowling just stopped as we all watched – moms who remembered hearing this on the radio when it came out, and little boys who just thought it was a cool song to jump around to.
The boys followed that up with their boy-soprano rendition of "Killer Queen," and after that Alex and I headed home.
Quite an evening at the Rock 'n' Bowl.