The Gophers opened up a new stadium. The Vikings trailed at halftime while rolling out their now-or-never QB. Barack Obama came to the Twin Cities, bringing out the best and worst of public discourse.
But the biggest personal drama of the weekend came Saturday night at Memory Lanes in Minneapolis. See, Friday and Saturday encompassed two days of Lebowski Fest here in our fair city. Friday night's main event was a screening of the movie at First Avenue, while Saturday was a bowling and costume party at Memory Lanes. As someone who enjoys the movie and loves events, we made a commitment months ago to both endeavors.
While the Friday night viewing was very solid, it was the Saturday experience that will live on in our memory. Arriving before doors openened (8 p.m.) in our freshly purchased beige/tan jumpsuit in an attempt to replicate at least the spirit, if not the complete identity, of Karl Hungus, we were ready to roll from the start.
True story: a long, long time ago (like from maybe ages 8-11) we were in a youth bowling league. Though we've never bowled competitively since, those formative years were crucial to us becoming an above-average recreational bowler. The tiny young mind and limbs were like little sponges for bowling knowledge. That said, on Saturday night we would be bowling in a ridiculous jumpsuit, intermittently stuffing our fingers toward three holes in the first ball we picked up, a delicious club sandwich and a couple of the Dude's favorite beverages. If that doesn't sound like a recipe for bowling success, well, you are correct. But it all worked out. Game 1 we rolled a reasonable score. Something around 160, though we left plenty of opportunities out there. We had the trademark flail working. The lane seemed to be giving up stikes like Eric Gregg to Livan Hernandez in Game 5 of the NLCS (not that we're still bitter).
Game 2 started with a thud -- a six on the first ball and a missed spare. An open frame is hardly the way to vault toward success. But quietly we started a run of strong play. Strike here, spare there, strike-strike there, and suddenly we were in business. We had heard rumors that there were rewards for strong bowling at this event, but it didn't really register. We like to think of strong bowling as its own reward. Anyway, the 10th frame arrived and we left two pesky pins on the far right despite a delightful first ball (more on that later). We made the spare and tacked on a 7 to the end of the frame, leaving us tantalizingly close to the magic 200 barrier but still in the clubhouse with a very nice 199.
The magic faded fast in Game 3, but by the middle of Game 4 they announced there were only 5 minutes left in the bowling contest. When time was up, it was announced that the winner rolled a 213 -- well-played, sir. But there was a tie for second and third -- at 199! -- and there was to be a roll-off to see who took what place. Guess you could say we rolled our way into the semis, in a manner of speaking. We headed over to a special lane. The rules were simple: one ball, best score wins, repeat if there is a tie. Our competitor, as you can see in the background of the picture, was dressed as "3,000 years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax," which is simply an outstanding costume. We would show you the tablets he brought with Lebowski-based commandments, but some of them just aren't appropriate. There were too many great costumes to name them all, in fact. The best might have been the "Maude" wearing a tattered green bathrobe with a nude-colored body suit underneath. Or the two sets of three who dressed as Autobahn.
In any event, History Man wins the coin flip, rolls first and scores a 9 on his ball. So there is little margin for error, but there is also a sweet reward out there. We pick up our ball and hurl it with full force. It nestles perfectly into the Brooklyn-side pocket, where we've been doing plenty of damage all night. Ah, but this is a differently lane. What might have been a fairly routine strike over on Lane 17 -- like Lonnie Smith scoring routinely on a double to the gap in 1991, not that we're still bitter -- instead left those two [redacted] pins on the right side again.
And so, much like many of those dominant Atlanta Braves teams, we were left to collect a lesser trophy than we had hoped for (not that we're still bitter). In contrast, however, we were still elated. After everything was over, we sat at a table by ourself for 15 minutes drinking water and looking at the beautiful trophy that says "Lebowski Fest Minneapolis 2009 -- Third Place Bowling."
That is how on a weekend during which the Gophers opened TCF Bank Stadium, during which we saw the President deliver a speech and during which we watched the Vikings start their march to Miami, the overriding memory is a cheap plastic trophy from a bowling/costume party celebrating a decade-old movie.
We're pretty sure the Dude abides.