The trick to bowling the perfect game: Lie about your score

This is a true story. It happened years ago, before I was born, but I know my dad, and I take him at his word.

FullSizeRenderDad was a bowler. Today, you don’t know how to keep score to bowl. You roll the ball, and computers do the rest. In the early-60s, though, you kept score by hand. You placed a scoresheet on a table with an overhead projector, and it was projected onto a screen so everyone could see it.

One time, Dad decided sit out, but he kept score, and for no particular reason, he wrote his name last on the scoresheet. He kept everyone’s score, and when he got down to his name, he marked an “X” on the scoresheet, meaning he’d gotten a strike.

He did that for 9 straight frames. He wasn’t trying to cheat. His friends knew he wasn’t really playing. He just did it. He thought it was funny, like he could bowl 9 strikes in a row.

Then he noticed a crowd gathering. People had noticed the score on his screen and thought he really had bowled 9 strikes in a row and was about to bowl a perfect game.

His friends noticed the crowd, too, and played it cool.

When the scoresheet showed it was Dad’s turn, he stood up solemnly and picked up one of his friends balls and tried to act like a guy who was trying not to act nervous.

No one said a word.

Dad took a deep breath and bowled.

Dad was a decent bowler in his day, but that night, he was just OK. He knocked down 7 or 8 pins.

Everyone in the bowling alley groaned.

They thought he’d missed his chance to bowl a perfect game, and Dad, God bless him, tried to act like a guy who’d just blown it.

He managed to play it straight until he got to the car, when he and his friends finally laughed about it.

Thanksgiving: The best sweet potato casserole recipe on the planet

Before you head out this weekend to get what you need for Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted you to see this. It’s from Maura, who used to blog at 36×37.

Maura gave herself 365 days to do 36 things she’d never done, all before her 37th birthday. No. 1 was start a blog. Once she’d accomplished Nos. 35 and 36 — planting a tree and death by chocolate — she retired. I wish she hadn’t, because she’s a good writer, and I miss reading her.

I was honored to serve as a guest blogger for Maura once, and she’s agreed to return the favor by letting me reprint her post about lucking into the best sweet potato casserole recipe on the planet

Seriously, you have to try this.

~*~

For the past four or so years, I’ve served the absolute best sweet potato casserole at holiday gatherings. It’s not an heirloom recipe like all the others in my rotation. And I didn’t cull it from the pages of a glossy gourmet cookbook. Instead, I kind of lucked into it in a way that almost makes me feel guilty (but not guilty enough to stop using it).

GB and I were enjoying our first evening out sans baby. To celebrate the occasion, we made reservations at a famous, rather upscale local restaurant. We’d visited this particular place once before for our annual Christmas dinner with GB’s boss. I wanted to go back because I remembered the potatoes.

Dear God, the potatoes.

Baked, buttery orange goodness topped with a thick pecan crust. Served so hot the server warned me to not touch the plate. As delectable and candy coated as pecan pie itself.

Not to get all Man Vs. Food on you, but oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

Our server was a young guy. He was very serious, and when people are too serious, I get nervous. I really just wanted him to loosen up, so I struck up a conversation.

“These sweet potatoes, I swear. They’re like candy. I would absolutely kill for this recipe.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed them,” he said gravely, then added, “I’ll see what I can do.”

As he marched back toward the kitchen, I looked at GB. “Did he just say he’d see what he could do?”

“I wonder what that means,” GB answered.

Five minutes later, the server returned with his grim face and a small slip of paper in his hand.

~*~

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Mixture:

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 stick of butter

Crust Mixture:

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 stick of butter, melted

Process:

  1. Combine crust mixture in mixing bowl, then set aside.
  2. Combine sweet potato mixture into a mixing bowl in the order listed. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

~*~

“Here you go, Miss,” he said. “The recipe you wanted.”

I stumbled through my shock enough to manage a quick, “Oh! Thanks!” I wanted to add, “Is there a charge for this? This isn’t like the Neiman-Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe story is it?” But really, I didn’t want to be gauche.

We’ve been back to this restaurant every December since then. And we’re going back next weekend. It makes me wonder what would happen if I publicly doted on the garlic herb cheese-stuffed chicken breast…or the lyonnaise…or the crème brulee…

The worst Halloween ever (or, the night a girl and her mom stole my candy)

When I was 5, my parents took me trick-or-treating. It was drizzling, and I had a nasty cold, but I didn’t want to miss Halloween.

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Florida Memory/public domain

I don’t remember my costume, but I remember my bag. It was a paper, with paper-cord handles. This is important. It was a paper bag.

I got a lot of candy, but there were a few duds. One woman was giving out pieces of popcorn — loose, not bagged, just reaching in a bowl and dropping a few into the paper bag — and there was a doctor up the street who gave out pennies.

So, there I am, sick, sniffling, coughing, with a slight fever, walking down the street in a drizzling rain, and I say, “Mom, my bag feels lighter.”

She says, “Oh, you’re just getting used to the weight.”

I stop and look at my bag and say, “No, it broke!”

The bottom had dropped out of my damp paper sack, and all my candy had fallen out.

We looked up the sidewalk and there, maybe 20 feet behind us, a girl and her mother were scooping up my candy and putting it in the girl’s bag.

I looked at Mom. She looked at the girl and mother stealing my candy and sighed. “OK,” she said. “Let’s go to a few more houses, then.”

We did, but we’d already hit most of the houses on the street, and I didn’t get enough candy to make up for the candy the girl and her mother stole.

A few years ago, my parents and I were talking about the kids’ costumes and about Halloween when I was a kid — like the time our neighbor’s big black dog chased me down the street, or the many times teenagers blew up our pumpkins with M-80s — and I asked Mom why she hadn’t tried to stop the woman from taking the candy.

Mom said she knew the woman, or knew of her. I’m from a really small town in eastern Kentucky where everybody knows everybody else, including their family histories and their family’s criminal history. “That woman was mean,” my mom said.

I understood. It would be a waste of time to get into an argument with an idiot over a couple bucks worth of chocolate. I imagine she would have claimed it was hers under the widely held legal principle of “finders keepers.”

So, this Halloween I’ll carve a pumpkin (yuck) and take the kids out trick-or-treating and, because they asked, I’ll wear a costume — Indiana Jones, because I have a jacket and a hat that would work — and if I see a kid spill some candy on the sidewalk, you can bet Things 1 and 2 and I will help him pick it up.