The bowling alley was where everyone in Heightford High School went on Friday nights. The seniors were too cool to bowl, so they just hung out in the booths eating cheese fries and talking about graduation. Juniors slowly grew bored with the simplistic nature of the game and often forgot about playing as they made out with their high school sweet hearts. Sophomores were the only ones who took bowling seriously. Some of them even had their own pairs of shoes, engraved balls, and bowling gloves that they would bring to make it seem like they meant business. Freshmen, on the other hand, didn’t have the money to pay for food, games, and shoes. Most of them just brought pockets full of quarters to spend in the arcade. It seemed like everyone in the entire school spent their free time there.
But not you.
No, you had to stay home and make sure that Penny did her homework. Mom had a second job. Dad left a few years ago and didn’t plan on coming back. Your older brother had his own place and a job just like Mom. So, that left you to make sure that your younger sister didn’t get into trouble. She was 14 now, and starting to become a woman.
Why not take her to the bowling alley? You could hang out with your Junior friends, maybe even find your own sweetheart, and she could go play arcade games with the other freshmen.
Well, maybe other brothers would think that was a great idea but you knew how older boys thought. Your sister was prime real estate for their perverted thoughts and crude actions, and although you knew she had the ability to take care of herself, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself if you knew she had to deal with them. So, instead, you stayed at home every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night and tried your hardest not to blame your sister for being one of the reasons why you didn’t have a girlfriend or a social life.
Pleasantville is where everybody moved when they were ready to settle down. The houses were neat and tidy. The yards were mowed every Sunday. The school zone was safe and reliable. Even the grocery store was known for giving out free samples of fruit, cheese, and desserts. No matter when your family started, this town was where every adult you knew eventually ended up.
But not you.
No, you had to stay in Charmont City in a rickety apartment by yourself. Mom moved away for a better job. Dad rarely ever called you anymore. Your older brother had a wife and kids and had moved to Pleasantville himself. So, that left Penny to keep you company. But your baby sister was no longer a baby. She was 28 and moving up in her career field fast. She didn’t have time to set you up with someone or help you move.
Why not meet someone on your own? That way Penny wouldn’t have to leave her work and you could have a family to spend time with.
Well, that worked for other people your age but you had no social skills. You’d never dated anyone before and your only friends had moved away when they decided to settle down. So, instead, you watched re-runs of Frasier at night by yourself. In the summer time, you went to work as the lifeguard at the local pool. But in the winter time, when the pool was closed, you worked as a fry-cook at the bowling alley, serving cheese fries to Seniors, and trying your hardest not to hate your sister for being one of the reasons why you hated yourself.