Although the Reverend is not Catholic (sorry, ladies), he does observe Lent every year without fail. This year, as the result of a horrid bender embarked upon for reasons too dark and numerous to get into here, he elected to give up alcohol. For forty days. Which quite naturally brings us to the topic at hand: What exactly does a devoted imbiber of the corn do with himself at those odd times when he (or she) would ordinarily be sleeping off a hangover or laying the foundations for the next one? Moreover, what do you do with the money you save by not drinking? As it turns out, you can bowl on the cheap.
Cal Bowl is in Lakewood; it anchors a lengthy strip mall and encompasses an arcade and an M&M Soul Food restaurant. (This writer will attest that the marriage of bowling and soul food is a happy one, by the way.) On Tuesday nights the games are a dollar each after nine, but you have to get there early since people are usually waiting as early as eight or eight fifteen. It's an easy wait, judging by the aromatic smell in the parking lot and the traffic at the bar. The lanes are smooth and well-lit, and since most people bowling on a school night are usually serious enough to bring their own equipment it's easy to find a house ball.
Cal Bowl runs other special nights: Cosmic Bowling is on offer on Fridays and Saturdays, with a free jukebox, and on Mondays there is a thing called Quartermania which sounds way too heavy to miss.
Despite the distance from Long Beach itself, Cal Bowl is worth the drive. It's weird, loud, and a little bit anachronistic and cheesy: in short, the real thing. With soul food.