Before I even moved to Berkeley to begin my fellowship, I had heard of Berkeley Bowl: it was spoken of with a holy sort of reverence, praised in quiet whispers and exuberant cries of gratitude. I heard how lives were changed when a second one opened. Somehow, in the haze of a hot Toronto summer, I managed to miss a very key fact about Berkeley Bowl. I arrived here wondering why everyone in the East Bay seemed to be so oddly enthusiastic about knocking over pins with a very heavy ball. Was this an American thing?
As it turns out, East Bay bowlers do have a mecca, not in Berkeley, but in Albany. It’s where I found myself last Friday morning, surrounded by co-workers, before I’d even managed to drink my morning coffee. The day marked the revival of Berkeley Rep’s company picnic, a chance to mingle and unwind with colleagues over some strikes and spares.
After trading in one of my boots for a pair of shoes (with Velcro, because apparently no one with feet as tiny as mine could possibly be an adult capable of tying laces), I joined a team comprised of artistic, marketing, electrics, and education staff.
As it turns out, there are some very enthusiastic bowlers in the East Bay, including Marketing Director Robert Sweibel. My fellow fellows and I had heard Robert speak of his prowess on the lanes -- but could we believe him (he is, after all, director of marketing)? As it turned out, he really could walk the hard-toed-shoe walk and would helpfully give pointers to anyone who wanted to improve his or her form. No one, though, could beat the School of Theatre’s Emika Abe, who posted a commanding lead over her team. An honorable mention goes to Master Electrician Fred Geffken’s toddler daughter who, with a little help from mom and dad, managed to roll a ball almost the entire way down the lane. She’ll be one to watch out for next year.
I did not fare so well. My hot pink bowling ball could probably tell you about all of the right gutter’s chips and scratches with astounding detail. No matter. After smugly and speedily tearing off the Velcro as others struggled with their laces, I turned the corner to find a large crowd gathering. I soon learned the cause for the mob: a Dance Dance Revolution faceoff between Development Associate Sarah Nowicki and Development Fellow Wendi Gross. If you’ve ever encountered one of our beloved "Devo Ladies" you know: these women are kind, classy…and tenacious.
It was a well-deserved almost-end-of-season break for a staff I’ve discovered to be among the most hard-working and most fun-loving folk around.
Oh, and then we had a potluck, a collaborative, gustatory production in true Berkeley Rep style: ambitious, eclectic, but altogether delicious. I wondered where everyone got the ingredients for their dishes. I hear there’s a guy named Joe around here that trades stuff for food? You Berkeleyans are so progressive.
I'm an excellent bowler.
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