Grand Central

    What comes to mind when you think of bowling? If you’re like me, you think of weird seats that seesaw back and forth, and they’re usually quite uncomfortable. You think of cheap, greasy food and cheap, bland beer. You think of funny nicknames and dirty computer monitors. You think of loud music and chaotic televisions. You think of this because this is what bowling has become. It has become something stressful, something kind of annoying, something that is—dare I say it—unfashionable.

    This is how you think of bowling until you think of Grand Central Bowling on SE Morrison in Portland, Oregon.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love bowling. Whether I’m bowling the diviest dive of all time or the latest state of the art alley: if there are ten frames to bowl, I’ll do it. My wife? She’s another story. She doesn’t love it like I do.

    “Let’s go tonight.” I said. She was always surprising me with fun excursions like rock climbing and kayak lessons. I wanted to surprise her with a night of bowling unlike any she had ever experienced. But, she’s a tough nut to crack.

    “You know I don’t like bowling. It’s uncomfortable. Those seats are so weird.”

    “Just go for me. If you decide you don’t want to bowl, just watch me. But I don’t want to go alone.”

    She sighed and smiled. “Okay. I’ll go. But next date, I pick.”

    “Deal,” I said as I grabbed my bowling ball and rushed to the car.

    We arrived and she immediately noticed things were different. Music played, but it didn’t blare (had I brought her for Throwback Thursday, which shows the best television shows, movies and music of the 80’s and 90’s, her reaction may have been different. Ditto for Sunday night with the finest in funk and soul music along with “B” movies from the 60’s and 70’s. While I enjoy these things, I was glad we came on this night. Tonight was a blend of classic rock, pop and modern hits played at a reasonable level (we could hear it without straining but still hold down a conversation).

    With only twelve lanes, we had to wait a little bit for our lane to open up. No worries. We enjoyed some tasty food and plunged into the massive arcade for some amusement. This, she got into. This set the mood for a terrific bowling experience for the both of us.

    We got our lane, and the excitement began.

    “A couch?” She said. “Where are those weird chairs that bungee back and forth. I get to bowl and rest in a couch while waiting for my turn?”

    I grinned.

    “And check out this state of the art computer. That’s just crazy.”

    I grinned again. Yes. She was hooked. And we hadn’t even bowled yet.

    We began our game and then another and another. Five total. I took two out of three, but she hung right with me in all of them. One of our best bowling nights we’ve ever had, and right here in Southeast Portland, Oregon.

    “Alright honey,” She said. “Next date night, we’re coming here.”

    I smiled and said: “You haven’t even heard the best part yet.”

    “What’s that?” She said.

    “It’s summer. Bring the kids. They can bowl for free.”

    Her jaw dropped and stayed on the floor the whole drive home.

    Grand Central Bowling is located at SE 8th and Morrison in Portland, Oregon. For more information, visit


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