Joseph took a tater tot, dipped it in hot sauce, and dropped it into his mouth. He laughed like a schoolboy, still chewing, before lashing out with a loud “La la la la, la, la la la” as Bob Dylan’s "The Man In Me" began.
Garret, having just readied his fingers and wrist to roll, turned and gave him a harsh look. “Dude, you’re distracting me, please shut up.”
Suki and Annabeth, three seats away from the tot chomping, sudden crooner, halted their chat, slightly shocked to hear Joseph’s singing voice. They peered over at him and he, expectant of their attention, winked. The ladies simultaneously squinted, caught themselves displaying the same expression, and then burst out in laughter of their own.
Be careful, Joseph, he reminded himself, aware of his growing buzz. This is going well, don’t screw it up.
“Come on,” Joseph said, “you gotta love that they’re playing this song. I mean, you gotta love Lebowski.”
Annabeth said, “Yeah, I do love it. At most other bowling alleys most other times I’d think it’s uber cheesy to play this song, but here I think it’s cool they don’t think they’re too cool to play it, you know?” Joseph could tell that she was pretty buzzed too.
“I think I know exactly what you mean. This place has become somewhat of a spot, not just to bowl, and this song, far from hipster hop or whatever else . . . it just says ‘dude, let’s go bowling,’ only because of the movie, of course. . . .”
“What’s hipster hop?” she asked.
“. . .”
“That’s deep, dude,” Garret said as he sat down and poured from their pitcher of PBR. “If you can take a quick break from philosophizing, you’re up.”
Joseph stood, found his ball, rolled it straight down the middle of the lane. His hopes for a strike came to a crescendo just as Dylan belted, “But oh, what a wonderful feeling. . . .” He watched as all of the pins fell in unison, all but one pin just teetering on its outer edges, spinning slowly on its axis, forever wobbling while Joseph watched it from a crouched position, his desire to flash Garret a huge post-strike smile growing exponentially with every millisecond that passed until, at long last, the pin remained standing.
The bowler turned back to his friends and shrugged. Garret smirked, Suki didn’t budge, and Annabeth gave him a full, toothy smile.
As he retook his seat, Joseph, glad to have found the napkin where he’d scrawled Annabeth’s number on the night they met, ate another tater tot.
(Listen to Boy Dylan's 'The Man In Me' here)