Up until now I haven't mentioned anything about my Thursday night ritual. I don't know if it's so much a ritual as a standing engagement.
After work, around 8:30pm, I grab dinner and head downstairs to the Time Out Lounge. Sometimes I bring dinner from home and just warm it in the box office microwave. Sometimes I have to go out and buy something for dinner. Last night was a buy night. I went with my friend Ryan to the Amish Market. He wanted one of the salads they make to your specifications. I wanted something from their hot buffet bar. After 8pm they knock a couple dollars off the by-the-pound price. At $4.99 per pound, I can get a lot of food for not much money. There isn't always something on the buffet that I want, but last not that wasn't a problem. Lasagna, roasted chicken, bean salad, cucumbers & onions, with grape leaves and a few artichokes conspired together in my plastic container to make a great dinner.
With Dakotah behind the bar and Ryan next to me at the bar, time just lends itself to relaxing, laughing, and catching up on what's been going on in each others lives during the week.
As time ticks away, the TONY Lounge turns into a karaoke bar. Every Thursday there is a return of people that I only see on that night and the addition of new people that I may never see again. There are good singers and bad singers. There are singers who don't sing and people that shouldn't sing. It's always a good time. My friend Erin hosts every other week and last night was Erin's last night to host for a while. It was time to blow it out. She and I duet on Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" and last night it was no-holds-barred. I also gave a shout out to Taylor Swift by singing "Picture To Burn." The last time I attempted that song, I could not for the life of me follow the verses. I could only sing the chorus. Well, last night was not two weeks ago. I sang it and I sang it right. I had a great time. I think part of the reason that karaoke is fun for me is that I only stay about an hour so there's no real time for overkill. I sing or I don't. I visit with friends. Then I head out to the major event of my Thursday night. I head to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, 2nd floor, Leisure Time Bowl, and bowl two games.
I take part in the Broadway Show Bowling League. It's a mish mash of performers, dressers, stage managers, crew folk, box office peeps, house staff, and anybody else wanting to have a good time and help a good cause. The BSBL benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. It costs $15 to bowl two games and shoes are included in the cost. It used to cost $16 to bowl two games, with $2 per person going to BC/EFA. Now we pay the BC/EFA donation up front and pay less per game. Good cause, good time.
I don't know what was in the water last night, but there we were, my team, Ballin4Billin. There were five of us last night. Team captain, Schniedah, and team members, Jen, Snuggie, Hughes, and me, Scooter. We were all in rare form last night. Maybe it's the upcoming holidays. Maybe it was the music from the 50's playing on the sound system. I don't know, but we all seemed to be in great moods. We had a blast. We bowled against a great team and the camaraderie was amazing. We high-fived the competition for a good bowl just like we high-fived ourselves. I honestly don't remember anybody ordering a real drink. Mostly, my memories recall us pouring water out of our pitcher and drinking it. What was in that water? It was one of the best experiences I've had at bowling all season. A season that started in August. I bowled two fantastic games. The second was incredible. I don't know what alien force was infecting my right arm, but I threw a mean ball down the lane. The best part though was the laughter. We danced a lot. Shimmied a lot. Made up a new team name based on something I said. Something that I'm not gonna repeat here. It was funny though. The people I work with are good people. I've gotten to know them so much better through bowling. They've come to be friends that I look forward to seeing anytime our schedules overlap. That's important in a city where rushed and busy is the image of us New Yorkers. It's a connection and a chance to reconnect each week. From 11:30pm until we're done we connect - with each other and friends that we only see there.
I usually get home anywhere between 1:30am and 3am. It depends upon how many people are bowling. Last night I got home about 2:30am. I'm generally off on Friday so I sleep until I wake up. Then I put the water on to boil and the coffee grounds in the french press. As I enjoy the coffee, I sit in front of my television to watch at least one thing that I record on Thursday.
That is ritual.