- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

bowling for downers

A clamorous crack of thunder kerrangs

out of the very Heavens,

each mighty blast spawn of our

deadly dadly brawn.

The atmosphere tears asunder.

Way down on the Earth,

they tremble and scatter;

groveling for shelter from the fearsome

pounding of the merciless Legions of Zeus.

Then just as a gathering calm ripples

false assurance to the weasly mortals below,

we tipple our frothy grog,

and in the haze of Olympian cumulo-nimbi,

we strike

again, and again, and again.

It was beer-frame,

and we were drunk again

on Media League Bowling Night.

Now, I never had the fleet-footed

twinkly-toe power delivery of say,

the awesome Fred Flintstone,

but I could kegle with the best of 'em,

even in Bedrock;

even through the expected and

beastly boozy haze.

Bring on the cactus juice and

I'll bring you in the Brooklyn

side every time, baby.

But "berling" (as even James Thurber

might tell you they call it in C'lummis, Ahia),

ain't the dadly badge of valor it

once was, I must sadly report.

Indeed, the sport of berling has

adopted the sort of developmentally

appropriate practices that are

bringing civilization to its very knees.

Once, it WAS a rite of passage.

I'd get dragged to the alley and slather-up

a basket-o-blackmail fries

with a flood of canker catsup

(" --- now eat 'em and shaddup,"

the old man would say),

and display my own acumen with my acquired

lexicon of berling epithets,

which I would hurl at all

the appropriate moments.


you'd yelp when a strike was imminent.

"Pick 'em up!!"



would work equally well for

a spare or a split scenario.

I was coming along just fine,

and had even berled a coupla wenis

kiddie leagues my own damn self, when

I made off to none other than the

kingdom of the Soviet Satan for a

semester abroad, where I copped a

wildly surreal faux-commie kegle.

From that point on I knew

berling was forever changed.

And those monumental changes set off

a domino effect of ruination evident

in the mounting malaise of

Gen-X'ers, and in our own

up-and-coming sniveling spawn.

Come back with me now, dear readers,

back, back to the frightful and

paranoia-wracked days of the

C-c-c-cold War and Nikita's Wall,

back when the boozy breath of Brezhnev

levied a merciless dictatorship

of the proletariet in none other than

Moscow, U.S.S.R.

(Fear not, patriotic patriarchs --- I vow we shall

return for the most part

unscathed ideologically).

For three glorious months in my

waning pre-dadly days I was filthy

stinking rich; rolling in rubles

from the brazen sales of black market

jeans, jeans, jeans;

a side job while I pretended

to be a language student.

While our Komsomol instructors

bristled with politically-correct

anti-capitalist horror, we

C-c-c-cold War running dog imperialists

hot-boxed the finest Havana stogies,

commandeered Moskvich cabbies

for the most mundane of school commutes,

lunched on the finest Beluga eggy-weggs,

and swallered enough champanskoye

(and this is the God's truth my little droogies),

to float even Don Ho's bubbly boat.

Yet, as often happens amongst the moneyed

intelligentsia, boredom quickly set in.

The only panacea --- well of course,

you've guessed it --- was a sojourn

to the sole set of Brunswicks

in all of the vast Land O'Lenin.

Yes, in all of Mother Russia's respoobleeki

there was at that time just ONE berling alley.

Huffing a papirosi ciggy,

a butt so vile, only Gulag folk smoke 'em,

('cept Solzhenitsyn who was too busy bummin'),

and properly zorked from black market hooch,

we got off the metro and shambled into

a world unlike any the PBA has ever imagined.

Devochkas in stilettoes bounded down the

Brunswicks hurtling the pitted

alley balls aloft, that




and punished the lanes like a

malicious meteor strike.

Malchicks in thick street shoes

hully-gullied past the foul line

smacking down pins they felt should

have fallen with their bare

Brezhnevian paws.

Ciggy butts smouldered dozens deep in the gutters.

All of this might be forgiven,

and even welcome by the western eye

as a sure sign that our correct

capitalist culture was finally making

inroads against the Great Satan,

excepting for one minor peccadillo-ski.

The Russkies hadn't been fully

briefed on the proud traditions

and heritage of berling.

Aye, verily, nobody remembered to

tell 'em the A-B-C's of The Game,

so they doo-my-yood their own spin:

1. Choose your weapon from the ball return

2. Take a careful aim

3. Hit the pin reset button

4. Fire the freakin' ball as fast as you

can down the alley.

OBJECT: drop as many pins as possible

before the reset rack drops.

As you might well imagine, within

days of Brunswick's bold entrepreneurial

investment behind the Iron Curtain,

every last stinkin' lane had been

nuked by the overzealous sputnikies.

My facial tick returned, heightened

in intensity by an additional and

uncontrollable thigh twitch.

Still, I sauntered to the control

counter, kopeks in hand,

to rent berlin' dags.

"Mozhno twoflee pozhalsta?"

I asked in a clear and confident

Russian dialect (acceptable absolutely

everywhere out East back then).

The silver-toothed Svetlana behind

the counter rotated her lumbering

frame and cracked a gruesome grin

that lit up her full, glorious

complement of ciliated facial

pustules and pimples and

boils and beasties.


She didn't get it.

My duodenum floppy-flipped.

She peered down her nose at my Western feet.

"Oo vas OO-ZHE twoflee"

("You already have shoes")

Overcome with despair,

and with no meaningful recourse,

I proceeded to berl

an undocumented perfect game in my chukkas;

mooned Lenin's mausoleum on the

way back to the hotel;

and grabbed the next Aeroflot headin' west,

trembling, and mumbling under my breath

in the many tongues foretold by Babel.

It's all been downhill since that

heinous time, dear readers.

Everything is different now.


Automatic scoring devices have

supplanted the entertaining fisticuffs

that would forever break out over

arithmetic errors, leaving an entire

generation of children the option

of learning math only in school.

There are non-smoking Leagues.

Yanni blasphemes the jukebox

(now referred to as a


Johnny Red is dead.

Increasingly, Fruitopia is the

drink of choice in dadsville.

And for our kids, the ultimate tragedy;

"bumper" berling.

You see, in bumper berling, kiddies can't lose.

Inflatable lane-long wieners fill

the gutters on either side so

that no matter how junior shanks

the shot, a few token pins are

guaranteed to fall, in turn

guaranteeing that junior's ego-wego

will not become permanently bruised

by the humiliation of a gutter

goose egg on the LCD overhead.

You can't lose. And you don't really win.


I say bah!

Nowadays, kids are junked-up with

Ritalin when their highs get too high.

They're pumped-up with Prozac

when their lows get too low.

In school, they all win first prize

for every academic competition.

Smileys abound on substandard

work that just a few years ago

would've been enough for a front

row seat in the corner

with dunce cap adornment.

But for now, it was beer-frame.

And bearing the unendurable weight

of all of the foregoing, my strategy

was crystal clear.

No one saw me leave the lanes that

November night; no one saw me walk

on out to the wind-swept

bridge; no one saw me commit my

personal Brunswick to the black,

black winter waters of the Olentangy River.


Making a silent covenant in the cold,

I walked, and walked, and walked

until the reverberating crash of the pins

became a distant and malignant memory.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs

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