Tag Archives: bowling


My computer does this trick where the monitor goes dead. You can hear everything still running, like if you press the volume button up or down, you’ll hear various intonations of that beep it makes to tell you just how loud it’s going to be. But when I brought it to get fixed, the computer people taught me this trick, you just have to hold down the power button and reset the machine, right, you do this like eight or nine times, and then you hold down these four random buttons, and boom, the screen comes back on. Only, it takes like half a day to boot up again, and when it does, everything’s erased.


My car does this trick where when you turn the steering wheel too far to the left, there’s this clicking sound – click! – and then it’s stuck, like you can’t turn it right again. The first time I found out about this trick, I was trying to pull off this illegal U-turn, it was one of those three-lane city streets, just a busy as a highway, but it’s not officially a highway, and so there are all these cross streets and opportunities to turn around, but you can’t because there are all of these, “No U-turn” signs. Through trial and error, I figured out that if you gun the gas, and then after the car spins around like five or six times, you pop the emergency brake, and the steering wheel unclicks again. But the check engine light goes on. I have no idea.

My air conditioner does this trick where when you try to change the filter at the beginning of the year, the old filter crumbles when you touch it, turning into a cloud of black dust. And the more you aggravate it, the worse it gets, dark little fibers getting everywhere, floating up into the air. And even after you get everything to where you think it’s clean, to where it should run relatively problem free, you turn it on and it just spews out this dark haze for like two days straight, and you’re sneezing and you wake up with this terrible taste in your mouth.

My bicycle pump does this trick where, after you’re done adding air to the tires, when you try to disengage the pump from the tube, it won’t let go, it rips the top of the tube right off, giving you an instant flat. The first time it happened I was like, well, I must have pulled it off too quickly. The second time I tried it slowly, and the third time, really, really slowly. But here I am, four tubes later, my bike pump is still up to its old tricks.

My blender does this trick where you put everything into the pitcher, your yogurt, fresh fruit, ice, everything, but instead of making a delicious smoothie, it just kind of spins everything around and around. You check it out to see if maybe the blades are accidentally rotating with the blender, but after you pour everything into a bowl, splashing all over the kitchen, you feel around and you don’t even know what you’re feeling around for. How are these things supposed to work? I mean, aside from just pushing the button, you have no idea. So you kind of just play around with everything and pour all of that smoothie stuff back in and you press blend again and, again, nothing, and you just hold it and hold it until the machine is obviously overheating, you’ve got this burnt electric smell in the kitchen, and then your wife comes downstairs later and she’s like, what the hell Rob? And you’re like, well, how do I get rid of this, it’s liquidy but really chunky and not blended, should I throw it in the garbage? Down the drain?

My bowling ball does this trick where you bowl it down the lane, and it disappears. You ask the bowling alley worker, can you go check in the back? I think the machine ate my ball. And he gets on some phone and makes a grocery-store style announcement for some bowling alley technician to go check out a problem on lane eleven. And you wait like twenty-five minutes, and then you finally ask the bowling alley guy, hey man, I hate to bug you, but do you think you could see what’s going on with my ball? With lane eleven? And he just picks up that phone again and he’s like, Derrick! Lane eleven! Jesus! And everybody hears it. And then ten minutes after that, Derrick shows up and he’s like, nope, nothing. And you’re like, are you sure? It had my name inscribed on it, Rob G. I just bought it. Can I check? And he’s like, sorry man, only authorized personnel behind the lanes.

Racist fishing trip

When I was in seventh grade, I went on a fishing trip with my friend Jeff and his racist uncles who were visiting from upstate. It was one of those deals where they load fifty onto a boat and head three hours out into the Atlantic Ocean. I think we were fishing for bluefish. Or fluke. I can’t remember. Even if I caught any fish, I didn’t feel like I actually accomplished anything, because the uncles did all of the baiting, the rods were firmly secured to the side, and once I started actually reeling something in, the adults promptly took over to wrestle the animal to submission.

Whenever you go on one of these fishing trips, they always offer seasick pills. Every time I’ve opted out, and every time I’ve been one of the only people not to get seasick. Obviously this isn’t much of a scientific study, but still, I’ve always been wary about taking loose medication from strangers.

At one point, when my friend and his cousins and most of his uncles were busy throwing up in the bathroom, it was just one of the uncles and me standing over my line. I got a tug. I pulled and two seconds later the uncle pushed me out of the way and took over. Out from the ocean came, not a fish, but a giant crab. And I really hope I’m remembering this right, because I was a little kid, and more than a decade later, I’ve since learned that memories like this often prove more unreliable than not.

But the crab was huge. Scary even. It was almost daring us to pull it up. All I could think was, wow, my parents are going to be so impressed when I come home and show them this giant crab. How’s my mom going to cook it up? But I was also kind of skeptical about my friend’s uncle’s maritime skills. I think he already had like eight beers. And I’ve already mentioned how not scared the crab looked.

Because it wasn’t even really hooked, it was holding onto the line with its claw. Some other adult came over with a net. The crab was maybe like two feet up from the side. And I’m looking at it. All of its spider legs are moving seemingly independent from the rest of its body. And just like that, just when the net might have been able to capture it, the crab opened up its claw from the line and dropped right back into the ocean. Bye-bye. Plop.

The crew cleaned up all of our catch and at the end of the trip some guy wearing a rubber suit handed me a really dirty plastic bag with some fish filets. My friend’s uncles decided that the day was still young, that we should all go bowling.

We got to the bowling alley and the racism, which had been so far limited to off handed comments and weird innuendos, it sort of ratcheted up a notch. I don’t even know if I should call it racism or prejudice, it was definitely racist, but it was so lame, it was like these guys were the token racists on one of those PSA episodes of the Fresh Prince. It was bigoted. It was nasty.

And I’m like twelve years old. Black people this. Mexican people that. I’m aware that this is probably my first conscious real taste of any of this stuff outside of TV. I grew up in a pretty sheltered white suburban life. There were maybe like two or three minorities in each of my elementary school classes growing up.

But in defense of that suburban white bread life, nobody in my family or my friend’s families said stuff like these guys were saying. And say whatever you want about how cheesy all of those TV shows were, the Fresh Prince, Family Matters, they gave a kid like me a pretty good idea of what’s right and what’s not right to poke fun at with your white friends and their uncles. So when one of the uncles said something about the physical characteristics of a certain ethnic group, I replied, “That’s not true. That doesn’t even make sense.”

And I definitely remember this guy’s response, pretty much as clearly as I remember the whole crab thing that happened a few hours earlier. He leaned down and kind of got in my face and said, “Oh yeah? Well how many (ethnic group)s do you know?” And that shut me up, the way any adult can kind of impose himself upon any little kid and shut them up.

I went home feeling stupid. I handed my mom my bag of fish filets. “Huh,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever cooked fluke/bluefish.” She put them in the freezer. Months later I remember her cleaning out the fridge, finding the still frozen bag and tossing it straight in the trash.