OLIVER STRIKES OUT

I was just minding my business dancing away at three in the afternoon inside of the always cool, on a Saturday, Hard Eight Lounge.

            “Downtown Oliver Brown,” said the beautiful DJ Eden, dancing up to me.

            “Eden, you’re so beautiful it hurts my soul.”

            She twisted and turned around me. “So, what did you think of Lucky Strike?”

            “It doesn’t open until Monday,” I answered, not all that concerned with a concept that, at least in my mind, bordered on Hollywood meets corporate America—my least favorite things next to ingesting broken glass.

            “I heard they had a party last night,” her hair whipped across my face as she said this.

            I stopped dancing and inserted my now very dirty feet into my flip-flops. “No one told me they were having a party.” I began text-messaging Eric. “Is there something going on at Lucky Strike?”

            “I don’t know.” Appeared back on my iphone.

            “Where are you going Oliver? C’mon stay and dance…”

            I walked directly over to LA Live and proceeded up the escalator to Lucky Strike.

            “Hi,” said the cute hostess.

            “Is the manager here?” I demanded more than asked.

            “Yeah…”

            “Could you tell him that Oliver Brown from Blogdowntown is here and would like to speak with him.”

            I looked around. The entrance / club area rivaled any Vegas ultra lounge. I walked down the length of the beautiful bar into the VIP lounge area. The white was a perfect contrast to the dark entrance. The red pool tables were the perfect accent. Now I’ve been called pretentious for my appreciation of the finer things in life, but seriously Downtown Oliver Brown felt right at home in this place. Feeling much happier than I had just minutes before I took in the space-age looking lanes. I couldn’t help but think back to the good-old-days when I used to go bowling with my father.

            “Hi I’m Joe. I’m one of the managers.”

            Joe was a nice looking young guy. In fact the whole staff was very attractive. “Hi Joe, I’m Downtown Oliver Brown. I heard you had a party last night.”

            “Yeah, it was a private event, but we’re having the official Grand Opening on Monday.”

I glared at him. “But you had party and didn’t invite me and the locals.”

“It was our marketing company…”

“They’re not from Downtown are they?”

He shook his head. “I mean we want you guys to come…Monday?”

My glare turned to a pout. “So I can hang out with the guys at the LA Times that think LA Live has unfairly displaced the homeless. I’m a blogger mate I need a scoop.”

“Well we were going to do some trials tonight.”

I smiled. “I’ll be here around eight with some friends.” I gave Joe a pat on the shoulder. “I think this place looks amazing, by the way.”

I’m not too sure why I went to Ralph’s for a wine tasting when I was going bowling / drinking an hour later, it might have had something to do with the fact that Mike was serving up four incredible bottles of Champagne.

Alec was there and literally no one else. “It’s just us tonight?” I asked.

Mike nodded. “And I have to throw out whatever is left over. It’s a crime.”

Alec and I exchanged the knowing glance of men who hate this very type of crime. “Mike, I would never allow such a tragedy, start pouring we have to be at Lucky Strike in an hour.” Mike and Alec looked at me inquisitively. “We’re going bowling, so cancel your plans.”

Mike shrugged knowing that there was no hope of talking me out of this adventure.

Four bottles of Champagne and an hour later myself and a couple hundred of my Downtownster friends were having the time of our lives.

“I can’t bowl to hip hop,” I said to the DJ. “I need some house music.”

“No problem Oliver.” And the set turned into something that would have made Tiesto proud.

Gino got us set up on the VIP lanes. Not because I’m a VIP, but for the safety of the other bowlers who were not bowling by Downtown Oliver Brown rules. What are Downtown Oliver Brown Rules? One drink must be consumed before every frame. The winner isn’t the bowler with the highest score, but rather the bowler that can bowl the most frames—I’ve never lost at my own game.

I looked across the cool, lounge table at my four buddies, out of two hundred, that I was actually able to talk into this. “We need one more real man to balance out the rotation. I can’t believe nobody else wants to play…I should have left them all home.”

“Downtown Oliver Brown! I’m here to save the day!”

I looked up in disbelief at Stan Peters. “No disrespect Stan, but its Saturday night shouldn’t you be at whatever Sam Nazarian’s new hot spot of the week is?”

Stan sat down next to me and started to put on his bowling shoes. “I’m burnt on that scene, bunch of wanna be’s. I mean if I’m going to hang with the peasants I might as well hang with the cool ones.” Stan looked from Mike, to Alec, to Neal, to Chris, to me. “No offense guys.”

I sighed. “Well your majesty would you like to go before the peasants or after?”

Stan shrugged. “It doesn’t matter you’ll all be passed out by the time I get a buzz going.”

I downed my Jack and Diet. “We’ll see about that.”

By the twentieth frame both Joe and the General Manager John had joined us. Erica our waitress was family.

John put his arm around me. “You know Oliver you’re not exactly what I pictured a writer to be like.” Stan rolled a strike and we high-fived. Twenty drinks, great music, hot waitresses, and bowling had bridged a gap between us.

I turned to John as I stood to take my turn. “Hemmingway was a drinker.”

Alec succumbed and lay on the couch. “And look how that turned out,” he commented adroitly.

I laughed and rolled a strike. Then danced on the table. John volunteered to get the next round, but Neal and Chris were long gone, Alec was down for the count, and Mike had to be at work early the next morning.

“How about it, Stan?”

Stan shook his head. “I should have known the only person that can drink more than a scummy Hollywood producer is a crazy writer… How’s that script you’re writing for me coming along?”

I laughed and walked with John to the bar to get my story and twenty-first Jack and Diet of the night.

“So how long have you been with the company?”

“Only about six months.”

I quickly came to the conclusion that John was going to make a good Downtownster and forgot about getting my story. He showed me a very funny baby picture of his son with his own face superimposed. This is something that proud Italian fathers have a tendency to do.

“I have to take care of something Oliver, I’ll be right back.”

I was just standing there enjoying the vibe when the attractive blonde that had been bowling in the lanes next to us walked up. She was a friend of a friend of a friend who worked on the design of the building.

“Oliver, you’re so adorable, you need to settle down.”

“Okay let’s do it.”

“Not with me, Oliver. But I have some great friends.”

“Every one says that…”

“It’s not that I don’t want you, I could totally rock your world. I totally want to rock your world…But you’ll cheat on me I know it.”

“I won’t. I promise. I just want to get married and have kids. If you really want me I’m yours right now.”

The next thing I know we were making out on the sidewalk in front of LA Live. I don’t remember this girl’s name but I was thinking she might be the one as our bodies came together so perfectly. That’s when the silver Rolls Royce Phantom pulled up and Stan Peter’s got out of the back.

“Oliver, get in the car.” He pointed at Mrs. Right. “You, your fiancé is looking all over for you.”

“Fiance?” I had noticed that she was with a guy but for some reason hadn’t put it all together.

“Yeah, but I want you Oliver.”

“So let’s go.” I pulled on her hand and we began our walk to a new life together.

Stan pulled our hands apart. “Listen love birds, better to make this decision a few days from now when we’re all sober.”

So there I sat in the back of Stan’s Rolls Royce. “I like her Stan.”

“I thought you were dating a nineteen-year-old named Misha?”

“Her AA sponsor told her that I was a substitute for her drug addiction or something, so we aren’t hanging anymore.”

“You know what I love about you Oliver?”

“What?”

“You’re actually more screwed up than me.”

“Yeah, you’ve kind of grown on me too.” I laughed out loud as I got out of the car. I had actually found the perfect place to strike out.

 

 

 

 

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