By Vince Basehart
Here are two dozen boys, about
ten years old. We will call them
"The Greens" for their
dirty, sagging, pine green T-shirts
designating the Jewish boys' day
camp from which they hail. All wear
headgear, be it a yarmulke or a
baseball cap screwed backwards onto
Here are "The Blues,"
a similar number of girls, also
ten years old, smartly dressed in
matching royal blue sportswear bearing
the insignia of a girls' athletic
Here, occupying opposite ends of
Pico Boulevard's Bay Shore Lanes,
is the distilled essence of boy-dom
"Bowling," in the sense
of strikes and spares, is not the
point of The Greens’ outing.
Instead, each ball bowled is a chance
to illustrate physical strength,
an opportunity to create noise and
A platoon of Greens gleefully follows
each boy on his turn to the line.
The boy has chosen his ball for
its extreme weight out of a bank
full of multicolored and different
weighted ones, and with much urging
by the others, heaves the orb in
a sideways manner.
The group flinches in unison when
the 18 pounder slams against the
polished lane with the crack of
an exploding cherry bomb. Yells
and high fives erupt as the ball
thunders towards the pins.
The Blues are concerned with grace,
precision and skill. Under the tutelage
of an athletic woman dressed in
the same crisp blue attire, one
girl holds herself erect as if in
finishing school. Her cheeks are
She approaches the lane with her
properly chosen ball (it is hot
pink). Approach, movement through
the shoulder, follow-through. The
ball kisses the lane and travels
on, however wobbly, to its goal.
She is a swan gliding on glass.
The Blues applaud politely.
A slender bearded man and a plump
one oversee the Greens. They too
are young, but old enough that a
severe glance leveled at a boy dangling
a 12-pound bowling ball over the
head of another like the Sword of
Damocles, lowers it. Behind them
sit two other boys taking turns
hitting each other in their shoulders.
Two Blues waiting their turn braid
each other’s long hair in
tandem. Another, traumatized by
something related to her red-and-white
paneled bowling shoes, is sobbing
in the arms of another counselor.
The Greens fight for the next piece
of ordnance regurgitated by the
ball return. They have discovered
the little gates preventing gutter
balls can also be smashed with the
ball and now each shot is being
banked off of them until a warning
comes over the intercom from a disembodied
The Blues have warmed up. The girls
have taken to doing a little jig
and curtsey after each successful
roll of the ball. Much hair tossing
and primping occurs. Squabbles about
whose turn it is break out.
One of the Greens smears his shirt
with ice cream. A gaggle of Blues
organizes an expedition to the ladies’
And on they go, oblivious to each
other on this fine summer afternoon.
Boys and girls, frogs and lilies,
trucks and tea cups, Mars and Venus,
Greens and Blues.
Their worlds will collide one day,
and they will find each other, perhaps
too soon, perhaps seeking out that
same perfect 15 pounder at the Bay