June 1, 2023

That Really Bunches My Panties by Brendon Marks


As I waited my turn at the counter in the bowling alley, I casually watched a young guy behind the counter spray something into each one of the collection of rental shoes that had been returned by previous bowlers. I thought, ‘It’s good they do that. No tellin’ what sort of feet have been in those shoes.’

Then it occurred to me that I really didn’t know what the spray was. It could be a disinfectant or it could be only a deodorant or even just compressed air like you use to blast the toast crumbs out of your computer keyboard. Who would know?

When it came my turn, I resisted the urge to verify what had been sprayed into them, accepted the pair of number-tens, and headed for a chair. I tried not to think about the possibility that the previous wearer may have had a virulent strain of flesh-eating bacteria or toe nail fungus that surely will cause the loss of a foot (or even a whole leg), depending upon how soon I get to an emergency room.

I decided to take a chance and jammed my feet into the shoes without peeking, sniffing, or even wincing. I am a risk-taker.

That done, I proceeded to the ball racks. I walked along the racks inserting my fingers and thumb into each of the alley balls, testing the fit. Then I noticed another guy doing the same thing and it gave me pause. How many people have stuck their fingers in that ball over the past month, even this morning? I’m much more concerned about where those fingers have been than I am about where someone has had their feet.

What should I do? I need a ball, and especially one that fits. What choice do I have? Taking each ball into the men’s room and rinsing out the holes before I put in my fingers might seem a little strange, but I don’t suppose they’d object if I use one of those little individual wet-wipes first. That doesn’t seem too practical either. Maybe I should just be really careful about where I put my hand between testing each ball, find one that fits, clean the holes, and wash my hands before bowling.

But what if cleaning the holes with the wet-wipe makes the holes slippery? Should I compensate by choosing a ball that is a little tight? On the other hand, how about the possibility that they would be less slippery? Why does life have to be so complicated?

Having your own ball doesn’t solve the problem either if your bowling buddy uses an alley ball. Every time you or he gets a strike and he gives you a high five, guess what. You just shook hands with a thousand or so previous bowlers. Running to the rest room to wash your hands after every high five might attract a little attention.

Of course they won’t know you’re going to wash your hands, but it still will attract attention.
Also, have you noticed that sometimes it takes longer than usual for your ball to come back after you bowl? Who knows what goes on down there or what muck and mire your ball travels through as it is picked up by the machine and spit back through the under-alley maze of the ball return like a sixteen pound cherry pit?

The only solution is the wet-wipes again or one of those little bottles of hand sanitizer. If you don’t make a big production out of it, most people won’t even notice that you use one after each high five or each time you touch your ball, they’ll just notice you use a lot of them.

Once you’re done bowling, returned your shoes, put the ball back on the rack and washed your hands again, how do you get out of the building? There are obviously many people who have not exercised the same level of personal hygiene that you have, and they pushed on that same exit door crash-bar.

What are you to do? That’s why the trash can outside the door is full of wet-wipes and hand sanitizer bottles.
Maybe it would be simpler to have that guy stand at the door with his can of shoe spray.

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