DiscoverHumor & Comedy

The Great Mongolian Bowling League of the United States of America

By Ed Borowsky

Worth reading 😎

A fish out of water and buddy comedy about two old men finding themselves at the heart of a Mongolian bowling tournament.

Synopsis

Harold Kushner and his roommate of thirty-years, Murray Schwartz, are average senior citizens facing down their mortality in a trailer-park in Land-O'-Lakes, Florida. The two self-professed "best Jewish bowlers ever" wind up contestants in the first-ever Great Mongolian Bowling League Tournament in the U.S.A. The rivalry becomes a high stakes roll-off as Harold approaches perfection (three 300 score games in a row) despite the fix set by the alley's mobsters-owners. As the reporters and camera crew's swarm to cover his amazing feat, Harold finds himself in a life review spanning back to his Bar Mitzvah and a past incarnation as a Mongolian warrior in the era of Genghis Khan as he ponders the profound questions we all ask in our golden years. Did my life have meaning? Did I fulfill my potential? Was I a good person?

The Great Mongolian Bowling League of the United States of America is a quick and entertaining beach read that centers around a bowling tournament. In many ways, it's about looking back at your life (from the perspective of 72-year-old protagonist Harold), but also experiencing one last exciting opportunity to play the hero.


After setting the scene as a buddy comedy between Harold and his roommate Murray in a mobile home park in Florida, it quickly becomes a fish-out-of-water comedy when the pair find themselves at a tournament put on by Mongolian Americans. The duo gets recruited and suddenly find themselves stars of the show, attracting greater media attention.


This book reminded me of a Carl Hiaasen novel, both for its offbeat comedy and its Florida setting. A large portion of the book is action set around the bowling tournament, which moves at a fast pace as Harold picks up steam and attention.


If there is a flaw in this book, it's that the other characters are mostly one-dimensional, especially the Mongolians and women. Women in particular are portrayed mostly as potential girlfriends and mates. All characters in general who aren't Harold aren't given much depth. I would have liked to see more nuance in handling these characters.


If you don't expect a lot from this book, it's enjoyable. It can be read in a sitting or two and you're transported to another world in a Florida bowling alley.

Reviewed by

Tim Cigelske draws on his experience as a journalist writing about creative people from all walks of life, including farmer, children’s author, comic book artist and Pixar animator. His writing appears in Runner’s World, Adventure Cyclist and Onion AV Club. Ashton Kutcher called him a "clever punk."

Synopsis

Harold Kushner and his roommate of thirty-years, Murray Schwartz, are average senior citizens facing down their mortality in a trailer-park in Land-O'-Lakes, Florida. The two self-professed "best Jewish bowlers ever" wind up contestants in the first-ever Great Mongolian Bowling League Tournament in the U.S.A. The rivalry becomes a high stakes roll-off as Harold approaches perfection (three 300 score games in a row) despite the fix set by the alley's mobsters-owners. As the reporters and camera crew's swarm to cover his amazing feat, Harold finds himself in a life review spanning back to his Bar Mitzvah and a past incarnation as a Mongolian warrior in the era of Genghis Khan as he ponders the profound questions we all ask in our golden years. Did my life have meaning? Did I fulfill my potential? Was I a good person?

My name is Harold Kushner.  I’m here to tell you what is about to happen. It will begin as soon as I finish getting dressed and walk out my front door.  I’m about ready to head to the Orlando International Airport to catch a direct flight to Las Vegas, Nevada.  It’s a hot morning this Friday in July and I’m told it’s going to be hotter where I’m heading, Sin City, Las Vegas baby.

Tomorrow begins the US Open Bowling Championship in Las Vegas and the way things have been going up to this point, well, I’m telling you tomorrow could go down in the annals of bowling history.  It’s also a day that potentially will modify the course of my young friend’s life and it could help alleviate the suffering of millions of people in a land far away.

So, in order for you to grasp the significance of the events that are about to unfold, I must set the scene and frame for you what has happened that has led up to this moment. 

But first, in order for you to fully comprehend what I’m about to tell you, I must first reveal a little about myself and my friend of thirty years, Murray Schwartz.  It’s imperative that you get to know Murray and me in order for you to understand how we got to this most unusual moment in our lives

Let me begin by saying I’m seventy-two years old, and right now I’m looking at myself in the mirror in the bathroom of my deluxe Fleetwood mobile home, one of the nicest mobile homes in the Land O Lakes Mobile Home Park in Florida and one that Murray and I’ve been living in for quite some time now.  In fact, what attracted me to purchase a Fleetwood was their motto, “Built for Life”and I can attest to the fact that they are and I can honestly say they’re built sturdy enough to accommodate both Murray and me.

I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I see this reflection.  Who is this old man with grey hair, brown eyes, and bushy eyebrows standing before me, I ask myself?  I was handsome once, young and fit not that long ago.  Time is playing tricks on me, because inside I’m still the same.  I feel young, vibrant, alive, so I ask again, who is this old guy I’m looking at?

Let me tell you. I was tall my entire life, six foot one or two inches but I’ve been shrinking lately.  I find I tend to repeat myself at times so forgive me if I do. As I’ve said I was actually six foot, but over the years I’ve gotten smaller. My current height is five foot ten inches primarily because of age related shrinkage due to osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes and other ailments that cause people to get shorter as they age. I don’t think I’m a hypochondriac but at my age you never know what’s going to jump out and grab you, so I say lean on the better side of caution and get it checked out right away if it’s ailing you.  You just never know?

I’m bent slightly, well maybe not so slightly, but I’m bent over nevertheless. I’m not sure if you contract curvature of the spine but I’ve also contracted curvature of the neck. This little annoyance doesn’t bother me that much, but I will say it has dramatically altered my perspective on life.

It doesn’t help that I have a turkey neck but what can I do as it runs in my family.  My grandmother on my father’s side had a grand one and I loved to watch it jiggle when she moved. Now that’s from the perspective of a grandson who loved his turkey-necked grandmother, but now that I’m getting up in age and I’ve inherited that damn thing, it’s not so endearing anymore.

I think that because of my age related consolidation, gravity has caused the flesh on my frame to be pushed outward and I’ve noticed I’ve gotten a little heavier in my old age.  For most of my life my belly was flat, taut even, but now?  

I notice I have a few age spots on my forehead and on the side of my face. These days I have to use the electric trimmer to get rid of the forest growing out of my nostrils and ears.  

Now Murray, my roommate of thirty years, is an inventor, a fixer upper and one who is always looking for ways to make his fortune on the next best greatest thing.  He’s been that way for as long as I’ve known him.  

I told him about the problem I have seeing and knowing whether my ear trimmer is actually cutting those pesky ear hairs, so he went out and in old Murray fashion he rigged up a mirror with a light, which attaches to that little ole buzzer and now I can see the inside of my ear, which allows me to hone in on those stalks growing with a precision that quite frankly has never been able to be done by anyone before.  

“Harold, hurry it up.  I need to use the bathroom before we leave.  How long you going to be in there?”

“Murray, give me a break.  Let me live in peace a little.  We have forty five minutes before the taxi picks us up and I don’t want to be rushed this morning.”

“Harold, I have to pee!”

“Murray, if you didn’t have the second bathroom torn apart all the time we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“But?”

“No butts, Murray.  Why don’t you go next door and knock on Arlene’s door.  She’ll let you use her bathroom.  She’ll let you use anything you want over there. Please, Murray, leave me alone.”

Murray’s brilliance is unrecognized and it’s a shame because he’s a genius in his own right even though he can be annoying. He’s always trying something new. Murray’s applied for a patent for the ear trimmer invention and he found a plant in China who can make them for pennies. He’s hoping he can get a hold of the folks at the Home Shopping Network and who knows? I think this time Murray may be onto something big!  

Until then, Murray still has to work at his day job. He owns a pretty successful business he started awhile back in a garage in town called Murray Schwartz’s Land O Lakes, Small Engine Repair Shop.  Like I said, he can fix anything.

“Hey Murray.  MURRAY!”

“WHAT?  What do you want, Harold?”

“Never mind, I can’t remember what I wanted to ask you.  WAIT, MURRAY, the bowling balls.  Don’t forget to bring the bowling bowls.  We’ll carry them on.  To heavy for the suitcase.  Make sure you put our names, address and phone numbers on the tags, just in case.”

“Harold, I gotta pee!”

“I told you – go over to Arlene’s!”

“All right, Harold.  I’ll do it for you this time, but you owe me.”

I remember the time when he almost hit it big with his fancy mop and bucket invention that made millions.  But his partner, his fiancé at the time, ended up taking care of the paperwork for him and signed her name on the patent instead of his and when it hit big she walked out on him with the patent attorney he hired. Took his money, took his patent but more than that she took his heart.  

In fact, she didn’t just take his heart, she reached into his chest with her long manicured fingernails, latched onto the beating organ and ripped it out through his ribs leaving a hole so big he never did quite recover. After all these years he still has never gotten over it, and he’s been living with me, in my Fleetwood doublewide ever since. He’s very sensitive whenever I bring it up so I never talk about it and at times in the past when I did, he seemed to unravel and he’d go crazy and sometimes he’d disappear for days at a time.

  As I was saying, forgive me because I tend to drift in my old age. At one time in my life I was handsome.  I commuted a lot when I was working for the town of Land O Lakes in their public works department. I was strong, smart and personable. It was hard work and working in the heat of Florida kept me in shape. I was never afraid of hard work and it took me a while before I became supervisor, which brought with it a lot of responsibility.  I repaved roads; fixed sewage lines…even hauled alligators out of our citizens of Land O Lakes swimming pools!

I remember I was a handsome young man and the women in Land O Lakes were attracted to me like the chick magnet I was in my younger days.  I must humbly say I had some fantastic times with some beautiful young ladies in my heyday. Now at my age, when I see those young women, well, I must admit it would be nice, but now at my age it would be considered creepy and I don’t like the thought that someone would think that. So I don’t even think about it too much anymore and that gives me the peace of mind I’ve been looking for.

But I have to admit that every once in a while I dream the big “What if?”  What if I had millions?  I’d buy a very expensive Ferrari; get some fancy new clothes, good Italian style shoes and expensive prescription sunglasses.  I’d saunter down to the chic restaurant in town at around six thirty on a Saturday night, make that eight because six thirty is too early and people would think I was there for the early bird special.  

I’d sit down at the bar and order a drink, a fancy martini with two olives.  I’d check out the woman, but not the young ones. I want to make that clear, at least forty and maybe more.  Actually forty would be perfect, maybe thirty-five, no, forty, that would be the right age for me.

They’d see me pull up in my fancy car, with my expensive clothes, Italian shoes and designer prescription sunglasses and they’d come over to me and say something like, “Hi there.  Is that your car?”

I’d look up with a confident grin, lift my martini glass and say, “Yes, it is.”

She would say, seductively, “May I join you.”

I’d say, “You may.’

She’d say, “Thank you.”

I’d say, “The pleasure’s all mine. Can I buy you a drink?”

She nods and I’d lift my hand in the air and coolly call out to the bartender, “Bartender.”

Then I would turn and say, “What are you having?”

She’d say, “I’ll have what you’re having.”

“Bartender, a martini for the beautiful lady, shaken, two olives.”

That would be it.  Next thing you know, we’d be driving down the road in the red Ferrari heading back to my place.

Problem is, if Murray’s home working on one of his inventions the place would be torn apart and Murray isn’t easy to get rid of. 

Now as it relates to me, I was married to the love of my life for seven years and I don’t like to talk about it much.  She died and it broke my heart and I haven’t been able to completely get over it like Murray couldn’t get over his lost love. So I guess we’ve kept each other company and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

But the one thing that Murray and me do together, and have been doing for a long time, is bowl.  We love to bowl and we go religiously at least two times a week, minimum! We belong to and are card-carrying members of the National Bowlers Association and we frequent the Land O Lakes AMF Bowling Center in town.  And I can tell you, but I’m not sure of this statistic, we happen to be the only two Jewish bowlers in the area, or for that matter, we may be the only two good Jewish bowlers, ever. 






About the author

Ed retired from a long business career. Borowsky's fiction is a tapestry of universal themes, including birth, death, aging, and the complexity of human relationships, interwoven with wit and timeless wisdom. He lives in Winter Park, Florida, with his wife and three adult sons. view profile

Published on December 17, 2018

Published by Citrine Publishing

20000 words

Genre: Humor & comedy

Reviewed by

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