BYOB: Bring Your Own Ball

by Tom Swift

On the back stretch of the evening walk I abruptly stopped us.

“Wait a second, buddy,” I said to the little buddy.

We backed up and, yes, at the end of the driveway we had just passed sat a bowling ball bag.

A bowling ball bag and nothing else. At the end of a driveway. At the end of the day.

This bowling ball bag was not new. Do people still buy bowling ball bags?

This bowling ball bag seemed well cared for. Other than being left out to temp unsuspecting bowling ball bag robbers, that is. There was no noticeable wear and tear.

Bowling: those were the days, weren’t they — when people went bowling so often they had their own bowling balls and so, of course, needed their own bowling ball bags?

On one hand, that time seems so long ago.

Given all that is going on in the world — we’re six months into a pandemic that our country doesn’t have the political will or direction to control, California is on fire, the rest of the Earth is also warming, we’re overrun by lawlessness and reckless ambivalence in Washington, D.C., and that’s just for starters — and from that standpoint this bowling ball bag seemed to be not just from another century but from another country.

On the other hand, it wasn’t that long ago.

Believe it or not, people — my parents, included — used to go to the bowling alley once or twice a week. They would bowl in leagues. Even if they had no desire to be the next Earl Anthony they would bring bowling gloves and keep score and post their averages. They would join teams and go to the local alley on Tuesday nights or whatever and they would bowl and socialize and have a good time. They had shirts with their names embroidered on the front.

There wasn’t automatic scoring and no laser lights. No one looked at their their phone all night because their phone was at home on the wall near the babysitter who wouldn’t use it unless the kids were on fire or her boyfriend called.

A bowling ball bag at the end of a driveway at the end of the night … at the end of the world (as we know it)?

We had to stop. Buddy, that bowling ball bag right there is a relic.