Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Life of Hardin Vol. IV, No. 3

Paraguayan Bowl Games

One night months ago my wife heaved a sigh at me. It hit me with enough force to knock me over. So I picked myself up, turned to her, and asked, “Are you bored? What do you want to do?”
“Nothing. I don’t know.”
“Do you want to go out to eat?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Do you want to go get coffee?”
“I won’t sleep.”
“Do you want to go rent a movie?”
“I’m tired of sitting here.”
“How about bowling?”
You’d have thought I slapped her.
So I let it drop. But I wore her down without firing a shot. Months later she heaved another sigh at me. I dodged. She said, “Let’s go bowling.”
“Yes, let’s,” I replied. So we made calls. We invited friends. We alerted the media.
We showed up at the bowling alley and peered at its rows and rows of unlit lanes as smooth as the glassy surface of a mountain lake. Then we gazed upon the sign. “Closed on Mondays for maintenance.”
“There’s the old bowling alley,” I said.
“Okay,” she said.
So we went. Two friends met us there. The alley was ours, all ten lanes. We soon discovered why.
The place was constructed sometime before the wheel was invented. I know, because several of the bowling balls from that era were still in use. They had about the same roundness as any odd rock you might find in your back yard. This, we discovered, turned out to be an advantage because the bowling balls fit into the grooves of the lane. Had they been round, there is no way of knowing where they might have been thrown. But their texture and contours helped increase their grip. The lanes themselves appeared as smooth as the glassy surface of a mountain stream chock full of deadly rapids.
There was no buzzer to penalize you if you stepped over the line on your throw. One of the boards simply leapt up under your foot and smacked you in the face. You were sure not to make that mistake again. On many occasions points were scored before the first ball was thrown. The pins had long since lost their sense of equilibrium. That sort of thing is expected at their age. They often tumbled over if you looked at them sternly enough. Or if the pin setter was a tad ungentle. Or if someone sighed too heavily. Often that was the only way to knock them down. If you aimed, you would certainly never hit the proper target.
Then there were some that had gone the opposite direction. They became ornery in their old age. One ball soared down the lane, teetered half of its weight over the gutter, recovered and curved toward center pin. This is struck with such force the other pins jumped out of the way before they were demolished. Except for the back pin. This stood its ground as though rooted. The ball banged into it and stopped as though against a brick wall. The pin stood firm in its place. One of the other pins, still rocking from the blow, took heart at his friends example and righted itself like a weeble-wobble. We thought about throwing another ball to clear out the pins, but I intervened.
“Let ‘em go. Any pin with that much strength of character deserves to live.”
So we gave up. We knew when we were beaten.
I once bowled a 198. This night I bowled a 120, but I learned two things. One is that it is possible to proud of a lesser achievement harder earned. Two is that you get what you pay for. We paid three dollars total for the four of us to bowl an hour. That is a dollar-to-pin ratio that cannot be beaten.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Life of Hardin Special No. 2

Flashback from Vienna

Monday, June 9, 2003

Last night we took a walk around "the ring." It's the road that runs along the outskirts of the old city. The current road is built on the site of the old Roman wall that surrounded Vienna. The Hofburg is there, which was the Austian Emperor's palace. It has five adjoining arches that lead into it. The Emperor would only use the middle one. Guess which one we used. There is also the State Opera house and the Stephansdom, which is st. Stephen's church. It was pretty large, and grandiose, and lots of penance money went in to build it, I'm sure. That's inside the ring rather than on its circumference. We also passed by the Parlament (that's how they spell it), the Maria am Gestaade, (which is some sort of church and looks cool with its spires all squeezed in between two buildings) and several museums, although we haven't gone into any of them yet. After about three miles of this our feet abandoned us and went on back home, leaving us to crawl. We had scuffed knees by the time we got back and found our feet soaking in epsom salts.
We started classes today. Everything seemed to go well. Corey told the story of how he failed the star basketball player at Lambuth for cheating, so I doubt he'll have any trouble with that. His class has 37 students in it. Mine and Perry's have about six each.
Today I covered Ontological arguments for God and blew the minds of my class. I let them know it was all downhill from there.
Several people, including some students and one of the Dean's Assistants, thought Perry was me all day long. I guess he looks more like me than I do.
Other than that it was pretty slow. Today was a holiday in Vienna. Pentecost Monday. They apparently take lots of useless holidays. We start teaching English tomorrow. Well, that's about it for this day in our "fahrt." Oh, I forgot. "Fahrt" means "trip" in German. We have "einfahrts," "ausfahrts," "turisfahrts," and just plain old "fahrts." It sure is a gassy country.
Oh, one more thing. We found out today that due to the water supply of Vienna, which comes from natural springs in the mountains, the water here is some of the purest in the world.