A bowling league felt like a neat place to kick off the journey and was a setting I hadn’t seen explored in literature before. It also allowed me to include a few nods to bowlers and teams I had encountered over the course of my short semi-recreational league bowling career.
Once Bowlingus got his nickname it seemed necessary to give a nickname to the bowling ball both to counteract the inclusion of a name and to juxtapose how people were mostly unnamed while objects might have nicknames. Personifying the ball also added another level of passion for the sport.
This chapter fluctuated draft to draft in the early going regarding whether the narrator would be bowling well or bowling poorly after his parking lot encounter. Initially he was flirting with perfection, but that seemed a little too escapist and unreasonable for the hack bowler he was supposed to be. Floundering but still managing to have a shot at a win was a better fit for his mindset.
This chapter makes it obvious that the chapter titles are also song titles. I liked disguising this fact in the first chapter by simply using “One” for the title. It could be one of many songs with that title, all appropriate for various reasons. “Two of Us” from Let It Be could refer to the narrator and the old man, the narrator and Bowlingus, or the narrator and his sister.
- My bowling ball does have a serial number starting with GLTZ, though I don’t call it Glitzy.
- The team names were fun to write. I have previously been on teams named the Explosive Nines and Rollin’ Blackouts. The Bowling Stones were a team in one of my leagues. Every league seems to have teams called Splitters or Gutter Balls, and every league also has at least one that never assigns a proper name and just goes by Team 8. “Bowler, I Hardly Know Her” is a nod to a conversation I overheard a coworker having with his son when he accidentally pocket dialed me one day. And “All Seven Digits” was a favorite saying of my friend Nate Pepper in college. We always thought it was hilarious, though we never quite knew why.
- When I was in the fifth or sixth grade I had to read Trinity by Leon Uris for summer reading. I hated it at the time since history isn’t really my thing and the book was forced upon me the way most summer reading is. But there was one quote that the entire class picked up on and would repeat to each other and giggle about well into the first week of class: “…virgins one and all except for Conor, who had done some fucking with Protestant girls…” I felt compelled to use this line in my book for some reason, thus naming a team “The Protestant Girls” for the sole reason of paying off this joke. If Bowlingus had a proper name, it probably would have been Conor.
- Originally the narrator’s team was called the Rollin’ Blackouts and the opponents were the Bowling Stones, but I flipped them during the final proofread since it seemed more on character for a music critic to have a musically themed team name. Thus the Blackouts are actually loosely based on the Stones who I used to bowl with at Hollywood Star Lanes before they knocked it down.
- The “Blondie” and “Goldilocks” jokes serve to further the nicknames but not real names concept. It was also intended to remind people who know me that the author and the narrator are not necessarily the same person.
- Note the foreshadowing with the stool and the beer mug. It was a tough scene to pull off without it feeling forced.
- When I was on the Explosive Nines bowling team we were horrible. The “league leading Explosive Nines” reference is for the benefit of my former teammates.
- There are 14 known musical references in this chapter, one of the lowest counts in the whole book.