i shudder to even think it, but i don't think amanda rawson and i have actually met face to face since last year! now that i think about it, maybe there was one time in march or something that we might've met briefly on a weekend when she came back from umass amherst to get a taste of the sweet life she left behind. still, that's almost half a year since we last met. of course we've kept in constant contact, with me being such an aim/email whore, always happy to give out freebies. it's weird, through this new fandango called the internet, i feel not too distant from her even though we haven't met for the longest time.

it took the power of bowling to bring us back together. we picked townline bowling in malden, because i went there one crazy night last year for adam smith's birthday celebration, where they had atomic bowling with black lights, disco balls, and glow-in-the-dark bowling equipment. unfortunately, we could only meet sunday night, and on sundays they don't have atomic bowling (only friday and saturday nights). we decided to go there anyway, atomic or regular, it didn't matter.

i drove out to malden, getting sort of lost in the process (drove into everett, had to double back), but ended up finding the place and arriving exactly on time. amanda wasn't there yet, so i had time to sort of just veg out in the lounge area watching people and reflecting on this thing known as bowling. bowling is safe fun. it one of those rare social event these days that doesn't revolve around drinking (although i guess you could get drunk at the bar, but who really bowls wasted?). there were a lot of teenagers there which makes sense, parents feel comfortable sending their kids to go bowling versus sending them to a party or a sleepover. i've never been much of a bowler, but i can see how people can bring people together, create new friends, solidify existing friendship.

thank god amanda came just in the nick of time before i had time to delve deeper into the existential meaning of bowling. we got our shoes ($2 rental fee each) and got our lane, lucky number 6.

we preceded to bowl. i used an orange number 7 ball, amanda had a pink number 6. when one person would go up to bowl, the other would grab the digital camera to take some sweet bowling action shot. now i am not much of a bowler, and i've only bowled a few times in my life, but tonight i felt pretty strong about my abilities, and i think for the first time ever i broke the 100 points mark (don't remember the except numbers exact for the last game, 110). on the last game amanda scored a 69, which i thought was a better score than what i got. i found bowling to be a lot like pitching a baseball (something i've never done, but i watch enough of it to be able to use it to cast inappropriate metaphors). i had relatively good control of my stuff, good location, i could get the ball to where i wanted it more often than not. amanda's bowling pitch was more like a breaking ball, it'd go down the lane very slowly and almost part the pins instead of knocking them down. i thought she did pretty good though, considering she hasn't really bowled big balls before. i remember the first time i came to townline bowling, i had a few frames where i scored 0 points (amanda managed to score points in every frame she bowled), and at one point, i accidently lost my grip on the bowling ball and tossed it backwards into the now-traumatized bowling audience (it was more of a gently roll of the ball underneath the seats). i was very happy to see that amanda did not follow through on any of my mistakes. i think if she was to come back next time, we'd easily tie, if not having her outright beat me.

bowling form

disgusted with results!

disgusted (detail)

after bowling ($20 for 3 games) we drove to a local dunkin' donut shop where we got beverages (ice coffee for amanda, hot chocolate for me) and chatted for an hour. amanda rawson is the funniest person i know. i know many funny people, but when she's on, she can make funny that hurt my stomach because i'm doubled over choking with laughter, tears in my eyes. we had a few moments like that tonight. i really should write them down, because now i can't remember them anymore! now that i think about it, i wouldn't want to share anyway, because i'm selfish and i want to keep that kind of humorous tnt to myself.

the late shift for that dunkin' donut was a real cast of characters. a guy brought in a baby in a hand carriage and one of the woman there was scolding him for bringing a baby so late at night (the baby should be at home sleeping! so screamed out). the man ended up leaving the baby on the counter while he disappeared (don't know what that was all about). i guess there's also no saucy language clause when you sign up to be a member of the dunkin' donut work team, because there was one woman behind the counter who had no problems expressing herself through some choice 4-letter words. but if i was working the late shift every night, i would care anyway. most of the customers in the place seemed like regulars anyway, and everybody knew each other in a townie love sort of way. it was just weird though, sort of like stepping into an r-rated adult language dunkin' donut.

afterwards we parted way and promised to see each other again before the summer is over and she goes back to school. she sped off in her shiny volkswagon, i rolled out in a 1987 maxima with a rusted driver's side door.

the christening sounds like a stephen king horror story, but the baptism of rob's baby vincent was where i was going today with amanda garnier.

my adventure started even before we got on the the road to st.albert's church in weymouth. i was late in leaving my house because i was fumbling with my tie. then i had to pick up amanda in brookline village. it took a little while but i finally found it through the help of a road map and the gps to alert me that i was way off course (driving onto huntington avenue is off course). i arrived 10 minutes early and wandered the area looking for amanda. we agreed to meet in front of a bank, but there were two banks and i didn't know which one she'd be waiting in front of so i walked back and forth between the two. at the designated time though a brunette in a red dress suddenly appeared, standing on a street corner. i caught amanda's attention and we walked to the car, parked a few blocks away.

so we started driving. amanda was my navigator, spiral-bound road map book on her lap, tracing our route with her finger. my own talking breathing gps! why even bother having an electronic one when you can have a real one? who will occasionally make smart-alecky wisecracks? we had no trouble until we hit route 93. i missed the exit for route 3 and drove down 93 into quincy until the highway sort of disappeared into more slow-paced residential roads. we went by a beach that could hardly be seen because there was a dense covering of fog over the water (which i thought particularly spooking since it was in the middle of the day, but the various people walking along the shoreline didn't seem to think any of it). i did a u-turn and backtracked, and we wandered around a little bit, trying to find the onramp to get us back onto route 93 south, occasionally admiring a passing biker or two. finally we did manage to get our bearing straight, and proceded with rob's written instructions on how to get to st.albert's church.

little did we know, the written instructions were not entirely accurate. sometimes when it says left it actually means right, and sometimes the address to the church should be 1130 instead of 130. good times! my electronic gps was helpful in that it could tell us if we were heading in the wrong direction, but the gps deals with straight line distances, and sometimes when it says you're close or far away, it can't be applied to real world situations with real world roads and one ways and traffic. so it wasn't the gps that saved our lives but a completely auspicious sighting of dan that finally saved us indirectly. we drove by a church and i spotted dan talking with a priest. could this be the church even though it's not st.albert's? could rob have gotten the name of the church wrong too? but we turned around and went back to the church, parked, got out, and asked the same priest if there was a baptism today. "yes, at 1pm," he said. what luck! we're not late after all! we went into the church briefly, mass was about to be over and people were slowly filing out. we got out of the way. i asked the priest if he knew of a st.albert's church, and he said yes with some humorous surprise, that it's further down the road. ohmigod, we're not at the right church! i asked him if anybody else had asked him the same thing, and he said yes, so that must've been dan asking for directions! we thanked him for his help, got into the car, and drove off in the direction he said we should go.

by this time we're past 12pm (so we're late) and amanda is both hungry and carsick, and she's eyeing every single food establishment we drive by. we're still lost, but at least we have a good idea of where to go. minutes later, we find st.albert's church, a much more subdued church with a bigger parking lot further out from weymouth center (?). we park, get into the church (not before seeing dan pull into the parking lot as well), and catch a glimpse of the baptism service before it's over.


tony (praying)


the ceremony itself seems very solemn, which was fascinating for me. if there's one thing the catholic church does right, it's their ceremonies. inside the air-conditioned church, the quietness, the high ceiling, the stained-glass windows (i haven't been in a church in over 5 years), i found it to be very peaceful and beautiful. although it's definitely not going to make me believe in god, i definitely bought into the spirit of the occasion. even though we only got a glimpse of the ceremony, i take away from it a better appreciation of what catholicism is all about. in my effort to soak up even more of what it's like to be catholic, i touched the upholstery of the pew seats, i flipped through the courtesty bibles (?), and i pretended to pray when the priest asked us all to pray together (i didn't know the words, i made everything up, i was fascinated to see that amanda knew the words though -- i guess she wasn't kidding about being a catholic!).

after the ceremony, we made a bee line of cars and followed rob to the lodge in hingham where he was having the post-baptism party. we had some nice italian food (some of them made by rob's own mother and sister), and hooked up with james and his family, lara and her husband kevin, and tom (this being the 3rd time in the past few days i've randomly bumped into tom).

at the lodge, amanda seemed to be quite distressed over this little infant girl wearing a headband. she said that when i get married and have a child, that if i ever make my infant wear a headband like that, she'd take my baby away.

when we had our fill of food, we said our good byes to rob ("hey, see ya tomorrow!") and then left. i had fun doing donuts in an empty parking lot, which made amanda get totally carsick again. i had legitimate reasons for doing that though, i had to let the gps lock onto the satellites. i had a most memorable ride home from weymouth/hingham, with amanda being my passenger. when i told her she could change the radio stations, the ride turned crazy, as she surfed the airwaves for fave songs, and when she hit one, she'd turn up the volume and use her thighs as bongo drums, occasionally singing along to the song. i found it all very amusing, even though her song choices occasionally made me wince. the ride home we were also on the lookout for a 7-11, because amanda desperately needed a blueberry slurpee.

in quincy we drove by this beach (which we later learned was the same one we passed by when got lost earlier in the day) and decided to stop and enjoy the hazy humid day a little bit by walking the rocky shoreline. it must've been a real sight to behold, amanda in her little red dress, me dressed up in my nice shirt + pants + polka dotted tie. we totally looked like we didn't belong, more like out-of-place tourists dressed completely inappropriately for the occasion. besides rocks, the shore was also littered with mussel shells, crab skeletons, and one very dead and very dried stingray* (though dead, neither amanda nor i were brave enough to flip the stingray* over however).

amanda investigating
the stingray*


it wouldn't be a beach trip without a dip in the water! jumping completely into the ocean was out of the question since we were both dressed up, but we could at least get our ankles wet a little bit. so we took off our shoes and waded into the water, the waves nudging us back on shore, an occasional splash would wet my rolled up pants. afterwards we crawled back on dry land, away from the rocky shore onto the flat sidewalk, which we couldn't walk on barefoot because the asphalt was hot enough to fry eggs. we cleaned off our feet (sand), put on our shoes, walked back to the car, and drove back to boston.

once back in the relative safety of brookline, amanda knew a local 7-11 where we stopped off and i was treated to a large blueberry slurpee. i drove amanda home and then went back to the office to grab some stuff before heading back to belmont.

* my friend adam smith tells me that particular pancake-shaped fish isn't a stingray but rather a skate.