A midweek afternoon and the first fallen leaves of the season are blowing around Nu Generation, a bowling alley whose parking lot is surprisingly full of cars. Quiet and calm elsewhere, it looks like a secret meeting is taking place in this building that resembles a temple with its huge columns supporting a covered entrance.
The automatic doors slide open, releasing a warm deep fryer smell and the rumbling sound of bowling balls on their way to strike down pins with a loud crack. Rounding the corner reveals this bowling alley’s congregation deeply involved in their secret meeting– a sea of silver haired seniors. Hundreds of them fill the entire right half of the building.
Do their families know what these folks are up to? If children and grandchildren think that Grandma and Grandpa are sitting at home watching “The Price Is Right” and knitting a toaster cozy, they have another thing coming. Towels on shoulders and wrist braces tightened, these people mean serious business and are all over the age of 65.
A woman named Donna gets a strike and her puffy curls bounce about while she does a victory dance that would put any NFL cheerleader to shame. A Wilford Brimley look-a-like throws his arms in a cursed grumble at his gutter ball while an elderly Asian man is swarmed with high fives after his strike. Some sit and visit, some cheer and leap out of their seats while others look as though they want to run down the alley and show those pins who’s boss. Today, this bowling alley IS a temple. There is certainly a lot of praying going on and the communion is one of coffee, chilidogs and soda.
The humming motors of ball returns put a sound to the energy here: an undercurrent of happiness and togetherness, old pals and new friends in this secret meeting of senior citizenship.
Someday we will be old enough to join this elite group of parishioners. Until then we can always keep an extra pair of socks in the glove box and give the old timer driving 20 mph in front of us a break. After all, he just might be on his way to the bowling alley.