Shades of Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

I had a Richard Brautigan moment  today.  For those unfamiliar with him, Brautigan was an author who peaked in the sixties and seventies, leaving such wonderful gifts as “Trout Fishing in America”, “In Watermelon Sugar”, and “Revenge of the Lawn”, which was a collection of short stories. In one of those stories, he gets on a local San Francisco transit bus, sits down, looks around and realizes he is the only young person on the bus. Everyone else is much, much older. He consequently weaves a tapestry of imaginations, anecdotes and little universes about  his bus ride, then writes it down for all in a short story.  The adjective,  ” imaginative” does not  begin to do Richard Brautigan justice.

For any aspiring writer of today, he is a recommended delight to read, and although he died in the eighties having achieved no great critical acclaim for his overall career, his books are translated into over twenty languages today.

This morning  I went to the pet store in Lihue. I was early, it was not yet open so I wandered the tiny shopping center. The one and only bowling alley on the island also lives there.  Even though I’ve been here a number of years, I had never been in there and spontaneously popped in for a look.

The well used doors were a portal to another universe. A very playful one.  This was nine forty five in the morning and the place was packed…. and raucous…. and there was not a young person in sight. In fact, anyone who was handling a  bowling bowl that morning was not under sixty five. Plus, they were all locals.  I was the one and only member of the pale male club in there and a youngster at 57.   It looked  like the annual  Hawaiian-Asian Granparents bowling convention. Except you can see they met a lot more often than that and  had a helluva good time doing so. Good cheer and frivolity were pervasive and I had to wear a grin as I walked up and down the lanes briefly just to see if my original demographic observation was true. Indeed it was.

There was a lot of slamming going on there as grace gave way to stiff joints, making for less than perfect approach and form. This one bundle of grey hair and laughter launched an air ball that would have made the propulsion engineers at NASA stand up and cheer. But when the ball  re-entered the atmosphere, it caught traction and travelled straight and true to knock em all down. A strike it was.  She playfully tried to give a deep bow, but had to pull it short as the lower back and hips just weren’t what they used to be.  Each lane had a story to tell. Too bad Richard couldn’t have been there.

Amidst the high fives, split pins, strikes  and battered maplewood lanes, I slipped out the portal, back  to my universe of practicalities and clocks. It was however a most enjoyable vacation.

Thanks for taking some LIP from me.

Bruce

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