It was 7:30 on Saturday morning.
"Wake up, darling. It's time to get going," mom singsonged lightly.
She would visit his room next.
It was akin to razzing ornery, hibernating bear cubs she'd tell us later. I was eight or nine and my baby brother was only a year younger.
And so it went.
Week after week. Fall through spring. Year in and year out.
The children of our quiet little tree-canopied street were packed up.
Standing side by side, peeking through the picture window drapery, we waited for a blurry-eyed, pajama clad carpool parent to whisk us away in the early morning chill. My bag protecting a baby blue, marbleized ball on the floor next to me, with one hand I nibbled a brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tart. Money clutched tightly in the other.
Shoes were fitted; lights illuminated the glossy hardwood lanes of Elmhurst Bowl at precisely 8:30. Pizza was delivered promptly at 10:30 and pitchers of Coke were regularly replenished throughout the morning. We bowled three games every week.
We argued over the scorer's table. Everyone wanting to. Hand scoring improving our burgeoning math skills.
Spares, strikes, two strikes in a row!
Afterwards if we were lucky, they'd let us walk next-door to the Roller Rink and skate (to David Cassidy), order fries and play pinball for an hour. Staying even longer was no problem. All we had to do was ask. Our jean pockets were always filled with enough change for the pay phone.
Childhood bliss! A kid's dream come true! And EVERY week!
Stumbling back home after 1:00, we only wanted to lie down. We were docile, completely worn out and perfectly perfect children again.
It never occurred to me at the time, of course. I didn't have that "Oprah" moment until I was an experienced grade school parent myself.
The whole darn thing was a set up. They were always still in their pajamas. Coffee cups in hand. Big, bright smiles on their faces when we arrived home. Too tired to give them anything resembling a fuss.
I've come to view it this way. Bowling is a lifelong skill. And I CAN still roll a turkey on more than a few occasions.