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Is Boss Hog Really the Boss?
By Scott Nankivel

It was early spring and my Broadway Show bowling team, The Lion King, was pitted against You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. They'd just heard their show was going to close and "Lucy" was particularly bitter. After "Snoopy's" fourth consecutive gutter, Lucy told him to go fuck himself, at which point Snoopy grabbed his balls and said, "Bite me, bitch." Fairly poor bowling etiquette for the Peanuts gang, I thought. But, I could empathize with their fears of being jobless or, more pointedly, the fear of never fully realizing your dream. While they wanted to make a living at professional acting, I wanted to become a professional bowler.

When I was sixteen, I had taken a passionate interest in ladies bowling. It filled my mother with pride when I attended her Thursday night league. But I wasn't there out of admiration for my mom's talent; I showed up each week to see Jane Peterson's ass peek out from under her mini-skirt every time she released the ball. It was heaven-sent. Jane was a thirty-five-year-old divorcee who wore a brown tweed skirt and silk panties, which by the middle of the third game rode high into the luxurious crack of her ass and sent me racing into the men's room to unload my adolescent pressure cooker.

Soon I equated bowling with sex. By summer vacation, all I could think about was… "bowling." I desperately needed to get my hands on some bowling. Every hormone in my body pleaded with my mother until she finally agreed to pay my way through an eight week professional bowling camp. As it turned out, bowling camp was no place to get laid. So by the end of camp I actually learned how to bowl and my lust for Jane suddenly took a backseat to the dream of going "pro."

Professional bowling was not a dream shared by many kids in my high school. In fact, no one in my high school shared the dream nor in my small Midwestern city. So by the age of nineteen, the engine was revved and the car was headed away from my hometown of Barnsville, Iowa to the worn streets of New York City, were a kid could hold his head high and say, "Damn it, I bowl and I'm proud." A place where dreams are encouraged and developed. Dreaming in the Midwest was frowned upon, unless it was to be something sensible like a floor manager at Wal-Mart. (Because they wore name tags and ties. Any job with a name tag was respected, but if by the grace of God you had the good fortune to secure a name tag and a tie you were feared.) I wanted more. My plan was to take a year to develop my game, find a sponsor so I could hit the pro circuit and start making a living as a bowler.

Three years into my deteriorating dream and I had yet to secure a sponsor and my skills were slipping because the price of rolling 10 practice games a day was a burden on my pitiful bank account. So when my best friend Ned told me he knew someone who knew someone who had a friend who worked backstage for Phantom of the Opera and they needed a new member for their Broadway show bowling team to replace the old Phantom, I eagerly agreed. My talent was instantly envied and caught the eye of theatre producers who apparently coveted bowling trophies as well as Tonys. So over the next couple years I was ruthlessly bribed onto other teams to help them secure a first place trophy, which in turn helped defray the cost of my daily practice sessions. I was slowly getting back on track and determined to let nothing further delay my taking the PBA by storm.

I felt bad the night Charlie Brown and the gang had been given the pink slip, but that didn't stop me from kicking their ass. After all I was being paid, under the table, to kick their cartoon asses.

After two consecutive strikes in our final game, I was enjoying a roll of Cherry Lifesavers when suddenly, from four lanes away I saw a woman eyeing my roll. She was stunning and made me wonder if Victoria's Secret catalogue was now a Broadway show. I held the Lifesavers out to her with an "offering" gesture. Her eyes lit up, and I had my "in." It's mandatory to get the "in" before making a move because no woman is interested in someone like me entering her personal space without an invitation. The "in" is the unworthy man's ticket to socialize with the genetically blessed. And now, finally, after years of being cold-shouldered in high school by cheerleaders, adorable farm girls or exotic foreign exchange students, I was being allowed a visitor's pass into the secret order of beauty.

After elbowing my way past four lanes of inferior bowlers, I finally reached her. Her name was Sophie. She was gorgeous and I was sweaty. Since moving to Manhattan I had hoped to meet a woman who I could find happiness with and would help ease the emotional strain of my career struggles. And in a perfect world she would have an irreverent personality that could rattle free the armor of my conservative, Midwestern ways, that still lingered with me, so that I might breathe a little more life into my soul -- but that would be gravy.

Sophie delicately took the roll of Lifesavers from my hand with the sexy grace a woman uses to turn the bathtub faucet off with her freshly manicured foot. She tore through the wrapping like it was Christmas morning and devoured not one but five Lifesavers. She sucked and swirled and chewed and sucked some more. Her eyes rolled up into her sockets like a diabetic who hadn't tasted sugar since Menudo broke up.

"Did you know there's a Goddess of Sweetness?" she slobbered.

"You mean someone other than you?" She laughed. I continued. "So, are you in Les Miserables?"

"Yeah, well no, this is the New York show; I just came back from touring it though. I'm a dancer."

"Oh, so there's a show in town and one that --"

"Whoops, my turn," she squealed with a mouth full of liquid Lifesaver and darted off toward the lane.

The way she moved to the ball rack and kicked her leg out on the release was all the proof I needed to believe she was telling the truth about being a dancer. I had to wonder if this was some cruel and twisted April Fool's trick played on me by Ned. No I concluded, Ned had neither the funds to hire an actress nor the energy for tomfoolery.

597 pins later, my evening was over and I had completed seven small conversations with Sophie, the exact number of Lifesavers in a half roll. I was lucky enough to keep her laughing for most of that time, which she seemed to appreciate. But just when I thought she was swept off her feet, she told me she was there to be set up with the legendary actor Tom Wopat, of Dukes of Hazzard fame. I couldn't recall whether he had played Bo Duke or Luke Duke, but it really didn't matter because their acting was equally brilliant. Just remembering the way they yelled, "Yee Haa," as the General flew over a creek from a broken bridge gave me chills. The way they jumped through the window of the General with their tight little jeans it's a wonder I'm not gay. Thank God for Daisy Duke, who slapped me back into heterosexuality every time a sliver of cheek poked out from underneath her signature jean shorts. I'm not sure how many Emmys the show won but I'm certain it wasn't enough.

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