Back when I worked at the Congregational Church of Naugatuck, CT, in the 1990s, the music director, several members of the choir and I would regularly make a post-rehearsal pilgrimage to a corner bar in Union City. It was one of those dives with lots of character, a turn-of-the-century building, old and battered, with pressed-tin walls and ceilings and ornate plumbing in the restrooms. There were only a few beers on tap and the food offerings consisted of pickled eggs, pickled sausages and whatever might be in the vending machine.
The church group had a regular table or, more acurately, we had two tables that we would always push together and crowd around. The tables were tall, the perfect height for sitting at a bar stool or standing, but what made it "our" table was that it was right in the corner by the dart board. At first, we would just play a game or two, but it didn't take long for us to get hooked on the game and, soon, we found ourselves saving up quarters all week so we'd be able to keep feeding the scoring machine. Before long, most of us had gone out and bought our own darts so we could have the weight and feel that we liked instead of having to play with the generic darts they had at the bar.
All things come to an end and, when I finished up my interim work at Naugatuck and moved on to the Green's Farms church in Westport, I put my darts in their case and put the case away on a shelf in the basement. Every so often, I'd come across those darts and think wistfully of how my circle of choir friends would get together and play almost every Thursday. Those were good times!
This past Saturday, my son and I went shopping at Sears, looking for something he could buy with a gift certificate he received for Christmas. We wandered through the store looking for something that would appeal to a 13-year old and it didn't take long for us to end up in the sporting goods section, where Ian decided that he'd like to get a dart board.
That afternoon, we hung the board on the basement wall and Ian and I played several games. Later in the evening, as I was preparing my sermon, I listened to a steady thwok-thwok as Ian practiced his dart game, using my old darts instead of the cheap ones that came with the board. After church on Sunday, he and I went hunting for some better quality darts and, when we arrived home, played several more games. When Ian came home from school yesterday, we played a couple games before he started his homework and played a few more games before dinner.
While I had thought that Ian would enjoy playing darts, I find myself to be both pleased and surprised at how much he seems to be getting into it. Even more, I'm really enjoying the time that we're spending together, throwing darts and talking. In fact, I can hardly wait for him to get home from school so we can play a game or two.