Many of us took the trek back to our hometowns for the holidays. For the most part, it’s a joyous time featuring a short break from the monotony of life and a chance to enjoy some real home cooking and dip into the liquor cabinet you became perhaps too familiar with in high school. Apart from the occasional uncomfortable question about your plans for the future (or lack thereof) and having to sleep in your childhood twin sized bed, things are pretty good. You have a chance to enjoy some much needed downtime, and with any luck you’ve gotten a few presents for your family that, despite being worth substantially less than the ones you will be receiving, aren’t cheap enough to actually offend them or reveal that your bank account only rarely flirts with four figures. Sometimes three.
Deep inside you though something stirs. It’s a force, a desire, a creature of unapologetic hedonism. During college, it was your guiding force, the raison d’etre for the eternal quest for Wednesday blackouts and awkward Thursday mornings. But you’ve graduated now and tried to tone things down and the light beer-swilling machine you once were is little more than a fond memory and a stubborn gut.
Your glory days aren’t entirely gone, though. Once in a while, something inside you snaps and you lash out in senseless acts of rebellion against all responsibility and respectability. It’s the voice in your ear that tells you Thursday night tequila shots are a good idea. It’s the mental gymnastics you go through to convince yourself eating half a Stouffer’s lasagna at 3 in the morning is something people in their mid-twenties should be doing. And tonight it’s in charge. You fire off a text to your hometown friends, probing and hoping for something promising.
The problem is that you live in the endless sprawl of suburbia and unless you’re trying to get cut off at a strip mall Chili’s while horrified families with small children witness the slurring train wreck that is your life, you’re probably extremely limited in your choices of local watering holes. Ideas flit back and forth over the group text. The nearest bar is a little too blue collar for you and your bougie boys to come rolling in ordering shots. Suddenly, one of the guys in the group text comes up with a brilliant idea. A solution so obvious you can’t believe you didn’t see it before. It’s a place where it’s acceptable to get sloppy on light beer and one that won’t cause disapproving glances from your mother when you tell her where you’re going.
The bowling alley.
That’s right, the same place that you had your 10th birthday party is a nest of sin hidden in plain sight. Somewhere in that long room that smells of stale cigarettes and resounds with the sound cacophony of pins clattering onto the waxed wood of the lanes is a door. Beyond that door lurks the lounge, your destination. It’s probably a dimly lit room with a grimy bar and a few beat-up tables and chairs with a jukebox quietly playing in the corner and maybe even a pool table. In many ways, it looks a lot like the sort of less than reputable bar you frequent mainly due to how close it is to your apartment and how cheap the drinks are.
A bowling alley bar is not where you go to meet your soul mate, but it is the sort of place you can go to with your hometown friends and have an extremely good time for under $10. The chances of the bartender cutting you off are nonexistent, and there’s a jukebox waiting for swipe after swipe of your debit card.
So spend the holidays with your family. Carol, bake cookies, trim a tree. But when the warmth and comfort of home is replaced with constant reminders of why you’re so glad you left in the first place, don’t discount your local bowling alley as a sanctuary of Coors and Keno. .