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Aging in style 

A close friend of mine had a birthday last week, her 44th. To celebrate, she wanted to take her friends bowling. I have nothing against bowling. It's inexpensive, you can wear anything in your closet, there's food, and it's air conditioned--what's not to like? I'd just figured my bowling days were over, as did the rest of our friends, judging by the perplexed/horrified looks on their faces when I told them. But, as long as we went to a place that served alcohol, hey, why not? Once you turn 40, alcohol is a prerequisite for any activity that involves lifting and hurling heavy objects. It dulls the sound of your body, saying to you as you pick up that heavy object, "What the hell do you think you're doing? Put that ball down immediately, or you won't be lifting anything heavier than a Darvon for a month!"

We chose AMF Bowling Center, across from The Mall Formerly Known As South Square. But I called the gang and suggested that we surprise our friend, and chip in to hire a limousine. They thought it was a great idea. When that long, sleek, black Caddy drove up to the house, our friend's jaw dropped, and her eyes widened. She's a teacher. Teachers don't ride in limousines. Teachers ride mostly in 1988 Honda Civics. She said, "Cool." She's really gotta learn to keep those emotions in check.

Our driver, Rocky, wasn't at all ruffled to be driving eight hysterically laughing women to a bowling alley. He took it in stride, opening doors for us, pointing out the bottled water and ice stocked inside, the lighting and air conditioning panels, the TV and wet bar. (He did not point out a cooler of beer and wine, so we brought that.) On our way to AMF, we watched other drivers peer at the darkened glass to try to see what famous person was in there. Madonna? Rosie O'Donnell? Elizabeth Dole? At one light, I rolled down the window and yelled at a young guy on the corner, "Ever hear of the Dixie Chicks?" (Hey, I didn't say we were the Dixie Chicks.) And, we roared away, leaving him with this stunned look on his face, obviously thinking the Dixie Chicks were, like, way not as hot in person.

We had a great time bowling. I scored lowest, but I blame that on the fact that I've given birth, and none of the others have. I don't care if it was 22 years ago, I'm still recovering. It was also Karaoke Night at AMF, and after a couple of beers, almost all of us remembered what fabulous singers we were and how the world had lost us to other professions, so we took turns at the mike between frames.

On the way home, the birthday girl stood with her top half out the moon roof, loudly proclaiming her age all the way down Franklin Street. Fortunately, students had not yet returned, or there could have been an ugly incident. The whole night was Camelot for your sadly underpaid teachers. You know, if I could go to school in a limousine each day, I might reconsider early retirement ... naah!

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