Celebrity Bowl-a-thon -- June 10, 2000

My publicity machine just keeps on turning. Or, more accurately, my friend Cheryl Kloner called and asked me to do the Bowl-a-thon. It's a celebrity charity event for Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children. Olive Crest operates a licensed foster family agency, a specialized school, and neighborhood homes for troubled toddlers and teens, as well as collaborating with other organizations to advance children's issues.

It was a roller coaster day for me, to say the least. I awoke early this morning to make the hour-long drive down to Orange County and get there by 11am. I was less than a mile away when I found out from a friend that there were three locations for this event: Orange County, where I then found myself, Riverside, and, oh yes, down the street from my house in Studio City. Down the street! An hour away or five minutes away and there I was 59 minutes into my journey. Ouch.

I was concerned that I would be the one loser celebrity no one would want to talk to. "Who is that?" "What show was he on?" "Is that on American television?" But my concerns were unfounded. No one had time to question my celebrity status because they were too busy questioning everyone else's. I was probably the 3rd or 4th biggest name in attendance. Guest-star credits were passing as tickets to fame. I could have bowled two years ago as the guy from Frasier and Sabrina. A couple "celebrities" were deemed famous because they had "many commercials running." Though I am not famous, at least I wasn't out of place.

I arrived on time at 11am. That was another mistake. Bowling wouldn't be getting underway until 12:30pm. There was nothing set up to encourage mingling with the kids, not even an autograph-signing table. We were there an hour-and-a-half early for lunch, 90 minutes to eat a dry Carl's Jr. hamburger. I passed on lunch, leaving me with 90 minutes to do absolutely nothing. The infamous Cheryl Kloner did not even arrive until after 11:30. So I looked around. walked around, and even sat around, wondering what I was doing in Orange County and what method I was going to use to kill Cheryl Kloner.

They finally gathered everyone around at about 12:30 and introduced all of the so-called celebrities. Well, almost all. They didn't announce me at all. Cheryl went charging up like a mama bear protecting her young. "John Ducey! You forgot John Ducey!" It was a little embarrassing but I guess necessary to make sure the kids knew something about the career behind this unknown face. And at least they wouldn't forget me ever again.

The bowling was fun, but not without its glitches -- balls getting stuck, computer mis-scoring, trouble getting started -- and I was only assigned one Olive Crest child. My other lane-mates were child star Patrick McTavish, and Olive Crest counselors Patricia & Marsha. Still, our one student representative made for a good team leader and we had a fun couple of hours. Finally. (To repsect the student's privacy and safety, her name and photo are not being included in this story.)

In the midst of all this fun, I ended up bowling two fantastic games. The first was a 214. I was very pleased with that. Then out of nowhere I bowled a 245. Two-hundred-and-forty-five. Unbelievable. The news was not all good, however. Such a high score meant that I had to stay until the very bitter end of the day so that I would be present for the trophy ceremony; the top three celebrity bowlers received trophies. So, when Cheryl left for the afternoon, I had to lounge around until everyone was done. At least I had made friends and had people to hang out with this time.

At long last, the award ceremony began. They announced the 3rd best celebrity: not me, then the second best celebrity: not me, and finally the top-scoring celebrity of the day: not me. Not me! It had happened. Through some sort of computer mix-up or other such excuse, my scores had not been recorded. The official top score was a 2-game total of 330. I had bowled a 459. But this time I had no Cheryl Kloner to scream in my defense. Our student and I went up to the co-ordinators after the awards had been given out, and that was when we were informed of the mistake. By that time, though, it was too late. Somewhere in Regal Lanes in Orange County, a wanna-be celebrity was basking in the glow of a 3rd Place bowling performance and clinging to that glory to give his life some purpose and meaning. Who was I to rob him of that? Would bumping him into 4th Place and stealing his trophy really make my day any better? I can just take one of my old IBM little league trophies and put a bowler on it if I feel the need for a tangible reward for the day. The intangible reward was enough: helping out the Olive Crest charity and having fun with some kids who probably spend most of their time not having fun.

And as I took my moral victory and loaded it into my car for the hour-plus drive back to Studio City, I felt like it was a fitting day after all. Despite all of the screaming and gyrating and begging and pleading, in the end, like Oh Grow Up, I was simply forgotten.

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