Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Morning Midway: The Bandana Bowler Ruffles Up the Green ...

So very rare that so eccentric a figure, and so so young, should surface on the tranquil greens. But he did, and what a breeze of heady gossip among the older pros he must have stirred, Dame Dither! His hair swirled up like one of those softie ice cream cones, and around it, a festive bandana! As if, without a trace of being ill-at-ease among his lumbering seniors, he'd been one of them for centuries. Such an easy stride, so much like one of them. Have we here a Great Gatsby moment?

How refreshingly eccentric in his own youthful way, unlike his more stodgy same-age peers who now and then grace the greens with ambling curiosity, and never return. But he has returned, a few times over, and what a spectacle, this attention being paid the game by one who, I can only imagine, at other hours is laughing the nights away under naughty strobe lights. And let me tell you why ...

Sitting there all to myself at my usual green bench post, half watching my favorites struggle to sustain credibility, clomping into view came a youngish psychedelic looking female, as flagrantly overdressed as a retro hippie street walker on acid. And what had SHE in mind? Closer to my solitary bench she floundered --- was she, well, not to use the word, about to try working me? Onto the edge of my well-guarded space, she plopped down. "What's that game?" she blurted out, spotting the young sportsman at the far side and waving to him. And he waved back, running our way to greet her. Relief, a reason to relax and enjoy this funky cameo. The three of us chatted a tad. The two of them knew each other in some murky way, as is the case with the carelessly young. Seems he had recently landed here from somewhere up there, perhaps Canada, and what a comedy riot I could have produced had I baited them humorously (for she laughed at my slightest remark). However, deferring to the game and my mysterious connection to it, I refrained from falling out of my stolid spectator post.

After the bowlers had finished, I learned from one of them that their young player, who bowled quite well, was actually brand new to the game. He had played Boccie Ball, a sport allowing for traces of spontaneous human emotions.

He continues showing up for games. And the intrigue rises, minimally, of course, as is the game's wont. Last time, nearing the final round, he ran across the green, bounded over the fence, galloped into the clubhouse and. moments later, emerged peddling a bicycle. "I'll be back in five minutes!" he shouted to his puzzled team mates. "Have to let a friend in my house!"

And I wondered, who might that be? Perhaps the spaced-out female friend (assuming she was still alive or not in jail). Or maybe another strange addition to his dubious social circle. He returned, more than five minutes later, after the bowlers had finished and were shuffling their balls into bags, returned with a different female friend on another bike, this one, relief, a regular sort.

Perhaps he is independently wealthy. Time on his hands. I told him about young Jonathan from Berkeley and his two younger brothers and their mad father (lawn bowling's own John McEnroe), who sometimes play right here in local tournaments, sometimes beating the seniors. I'd relish watching the bandana bowler meet up with the Berkeley brood. (Now, with my new digital camera in hand, I will try stealing an image or two of our invading curiosity for your discrete amusement.) Just a few more sporty delinquents on the green, and, at last, the game might stave off the ever-present threat of sudden extinction.

Although I can't picture casually conservative Jonathan wrapping a bandana around his flat cool hair, I can well imagine him taking delight in the sight of somebody on the green so much closer to his own age. And his father feeling emboldened by this bizarre turn of events.

Oh, Dame Dither, such unexpected drama here on the green!

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