Bummed out doesn’t come close to describing my reaction when I heard that my favorite local bowling alley will be shutting its doors in April, after operating for over 50 years. I have many fond memories attached to that place, from drunken birthdays and bachelorette parties, when a friend once accidentally punched me in the eye with a sock puppet – my friends are so awesome- to several years in a row spent bowling on Halloween in full costumes. Serra Bowl is situated right across the road from In’n’Out and Krispy Kreme (double trouble!), the alley has its own karaoke room and lounge, and one of the most seasoned managers at the place is a surly older gentleman who’s accomplished a feat of hairstyle wizzardry: he has both a pompadour and a mullet. Basically, it’s magical and will be sorely missed, even if in all my years, I never really got to be very skilled at the game.
Bowling is a sport that has long had a fond overlap with geekdom, perhaps because many (humorless) people seem to shrug the game off as a juvenile activity, the same way they do comics, obsessing over sci-fi nuances, or collecting figurines. Those who own a pair of bowling shoes and their special lucky ball, weighted just right; those who obsessively quote the Dude and drink White Russians in the face of lactose intolerance; those who proudly compare bowling injuries, from strained wrists to sore tailbones from accidentally slipping on the well-waxed alley floor – I get you. You are welcome here.
I’m feeling sentimental, so in the spirit of the occasion, here are my five favorite bowling-related scenes:
1) Trying to pick the best bowling scene from The Big Lebowski is a sisyphean task. So how about Walter Sobchak being amazing:
2) The Bowler shows off her skills in Mystery Men
(the clip may try to autoplay something else after, so be sure to pause at the end before working down the list):
3) Christina Ricci’s dreamy tap dancing scene in Buffalo ’66:
4) What do you do to relieve some stress when you’re a serial killer? You go bowling, like Dexter:
5) Last, but not least (and a good length clip), Laverne and Shirley go bowling:
Tiny bonus: Short, sweet and amazing. Boris Karloff bowling in Scarface (1932):
So then, do you have a favorite?
Not as classic as some of these, but I’d like to add the bowling episode of Parks & Rec. Ron’s delight at all the available cheap meats, Tom’s sweet “Drive” scorpion jacket, and Ben’s punching of the jerk and subsequent make-out with Leslie?
Ooh, there’s also the episode on the Simpsons where Marge starts playing to spite Homer for his thoughtless gift (a ball inscribed with his name) and ends up turning down the Frenchman who attempts to woo her.
Oh man, that Parks & Rec scene sounds epic. I should try and find the clip!