Thursday, March 02, 2017

Philadelphia, part two

Did I mention yesterday that in the few days leading up to the Philadelphia trip, Eli 15.2 was sick?

No, I did not.

He woke up on Monday morning as sick as I've seen him in a long time. Went into the doctor, told him he had a big hockey trick, and the sympathetic doctor prescribed a nuclear-powered antibiotic.

Which worked, incredibly, so even though he wasn't anywhere near normal, we flew to Philadelphia.

Okay, back to the story.

Clearly, the magical appeal of a bowling alley across the parking lot is irresistible, but in the meantime, Eli's team has games to play.

First off, a game against a Pittsburgh team ranked #16 in the country.

This game can be described in one phrase: total goalie meltdown. Not Eli, either--the goalies on the other team.

How much? Try four goals in the first nine shots.

That's quite a cushion to give a goalie, and even though Pittsburgh is getting a ton of shots, and a ton in close, Eli is doing all the right things--getting square, playing big, being patient.

The shot totals keep clicking higher and higher. And Pittsburgh scores, eventually, but not nearly enough.

Final score: 6-3. We were outshot 46-24, but Eli was on his game, and it didn't matter.

Celebrate? Heck, yes. We go back to the hotel, eat dinner, and then go immediately to the bowling alley.

The Palace.

That's a good name, because it's a great bowling alley--small, clean, happy. And popular--so full that we can't get a lane.

That's okay, too, because bowling alleys are a great place to just watch people.

"Bowling alleys are the Golden Corral of humanity," I say, and Eli bursts out laughing.

"Okay, what we're looking for is 'The Hammer'," I say to Eli.

"What's the hammer?" he asks.

"In every bowling alley, there's one guy whose only objective is to throw the ball a hundred miles an hour," I say. "He might not hit a pin three shots in a row, but when he does, it's epic. That guy lives for that moment."

Eli laughs, and we start looking.

"Dad, I don't think the hammer is here," Eli says after about ten minutes. We've thoroughly searched one side of the bowling alley, and we're almost done on the other side.

"He has to be here," I say. "It's a universal constant of bowling alleys. Let's take one more look. I'll take the right side."

"Okay, I'll take the left," he says.

In about ten more seconds, a guy gets up to bowl, just a few lanes to the right of where we're standing. He has a mullet and a mustache, because of course he does, and then he strides up to the line and releases a ball that almost breaks the sound barrier.

I turn to Eli with a huge grin on my face, and he's looking at me with a huge grin on his face, and we both say "THE HAMMER!" and die laughing.

I point out The Hammer to Eli.

"That's not The Hammer," Eli says. "Look over here to the left." I do and there's a second Hammer, throwing just as hard as the first.

"Oh my god," I say. "Do you realize what this means?"

We both say it at the same time: "DOUBLE HAMMERS!"

I don't know how long it takes us to stop laughing, but it's a long, long time.

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