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The Bear Family: Nonny Bear Goes Bowling

Yael Mermelstein

Someone was finally bold enough to have a birthday party in my grade and I couldn’t even go because Rafi was having a bowling party

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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R afi Lemberger tapped me on the shoulder during class and passed me a blue envelope. It was an invitation to a birthday party. Cute. Kids in my class didn’t really make birthday parties anymore, especially the kind where you send out invitations. We were all a little too cool for that. But truthfully, who doesn’t want to go to a birthday party on a Sunday instead of sitting home? 

I skimmed the invitation and my heart fell all the way to my toes. Someone was finally bold enough to have a birthday party in my grade and I couldn’t even go because Rafi was having a bowling party.

Let me tell you about bowling and T.J. (my fab wheelchair). The two don’t exactly go together. You’re probably thinking that even though I can’t walk, I could just, you know, rev T.J. up to the lane and drop the ball with my hand.
What you don’t realize is that it takes quite a bit of strength to hold a bowling ball and then a ton of coordination to drop it in the right place. I mean, sure, I could have someone place the ball on my lap and then give it a nudge, but trust me, it ends up in the gutter, every time. Yeah, I’ve tried. And it was humiliating, I tell you. 

I was going to have to sit this party out. Pun intended. 

When I got home, I tossed the invitation into the trash. I know I could have left it in my knapsack. I didn’t have to go making a statement about it but I didn’t want to come across the invitation again. It would feel like someone dropping a bowling ball on my face. 

In the middle of dinner, Benny held up a blue envelope. 

“So,” he said to everyone gathered, meaning, my whole family. “I found an invitation to Rafi Lemberger’s birthday party in the trash. I presume this was yours, Nonny?” 

I shrugged. Gosh, I should have ripped it into pieces instead of leaving it on top of the trash. Or at least covered it with broccoli mash or something so Benny wouldn’t have touched it.
“Well,” Benny said. “I wouldn’t mind an invite myself. If you’re not going, then maybe I’ll take your place. I like bowling.” 

“Uh, you weren’t invited, Benny,” I said. Who was I kidding though? Anyone would want eighth-grade Benny to come to their sixth-grade party! Rafi would probably jump for joy if Benny showed up.
I tried to snatch the invitation from Benny but he held it over his head. 

“What?” he said. “I don’t understand what’s bothering you. You obviously don’t want to go.”
“You know what?” I said. “You don’t understand a thing. Don’t you get that I can’t bowl?” 

Benny shook his head. “I get that you can’t bowl the way that some other people bowl. But there are leagues out there for wheelchair bowlers. Leagues, I tell you. Competitions. With trophies and such. So it seems a bit of a shame for you to wimp out on this party.” 

I nearly dumped my corn soup on Benny’s head. I turned to my parents. 

“Don’t you want to intervene?” I asked them. 

My mother looked at my father. They broth shrugged. 

“Benny has a point,” my father said. “I never took you for the giving-up type without even trying to think of a creative solution.” 

Ugh. Nobody was on my side. They simply couldn’t understand. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 666)

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