Posted by Debra Solomon Baker on January 30, 2013
Here is what didn’t happen at the bowling alley. I did not lunge a twelve-pound bowling ball at the forehead of the blonde woman wearing the short sleeve white polo shirt (really?) (in this blustery weather?!). I did not strut over to her in my best Debra-Solomon-Baker-New-York-style swagger and demonstrate the new kickboxing moves that I’d learned during that morning’s Body Combat workout on Youtube.
Let me back up to a Friday night in January, about a year ago. I had planned this fiesta for my friend who now had 20 years of sobriety behind him, and so I’d bought some Ketel One vodka for the drinkers (with his blessing) and some hummus and crackers and his favorite Snyders fat pretzels. I’d invited his AA sponsor and a few buddies from work.
And, best of all, I’d written this kick-ass tribute of 20 things that I wouldn’t want to change about him, a sweet blend of farce and sincerity. My colleagues had dealt hand upon hand of Hearts at my dining room table, had told stories, had laughed about some painting of a busty woman that I had removed from the wall and stuffed in the basement. My little house had exuded warmth and goodness that night. And I had felt this pure, focused happiness. Without measure.
Until around midnight. My dear husband had walked into the house a few hours earlier with a rare scowl, but I had just dismissed it as a crippling day as a worker’s compensation attorney. I never expected (who does?) that, later, while he was washing and I was drying in the post-party cleanup, he’d reveal that his boss had canned him.
But, first, she had prayed on it. Yes. Of course she had. Julie (whose name has not been changed to protect the innocent) had prayed on it and she had decided, with some help from Above, to announce to my dear husband that things just weren’t working out, that’s all, and that he needed to leave now, now, now, yes, today, yes, on that Friday afternoon in the middle of the goddamn recession that he was to come home to his wife and his daughter and his house payments and his son who had planned to go to this expensive sleepaway camp with his buddies, and suddenly they were a family of four (plus the dog) living on a teacher’s salary (thank goodness for the teacher’s salary). Yes, she had prayed. And some god had talked to her and told her that she couldn’t just wait and tell this guy that he could take a month or two and look for a new job while they rounded out their cases, or some other humane agreement like that.
Nope. That’s not what that god of hers said. He told her to order that forty-year-old guy to pack up his crap, to turn over his cell phone and his keys and his insurance, and to head home. Today.
So this all brings us back here, to this bowling alley, to last Saturday, to one year later, to Lorne pointing over at Ms. White Polo Shirt and whispering, “There she is.” There. She. Is.
Yes, this all brings us back to what didn’t happen.
I wanted to toss her my first-ever left hook followed by a right jab to the jaw. I wanted to furnish her with my personal favorite, the ol’ knee to the groin, a move that I had perfected (in my supremely active fantasy world).
I stared. And despite Lorne’s admonition to quit staring, I stared more. She and I locked eyes.
I had dreamed of this moment, a recurring dream. I had even composed letters (unsent) and crafted conversations.
I wanted to spit words (or diet Coke) at her, to belittle, to blame. Right there, in that bowling alley, on that Saturday afternoon, I wanted to mock her version of god, of religion, of righteous behavior. And I wanted to do it all loudly.
But I said nothing.
I raced to the door, ran outside through the gusts, and jumped, alone, into the minivan. Cranking up the heat, I sat there wondering, wondering about stories without action, about defining moments in bowling alleys, about the strangely unsettling power of silence.