I stepped up to the machine and followed his instructions: plant feet, bend knees, straighten arm, swing it like a pendulum and release. I chucked nine balls at the board, tallying 120 points — far below the league average of 270. I focused on my wrist motion and watched my star rise, cracking the 200 mark with a 220, a 230 and a 240.
I nearly jumped out of my skeeskin when I saw the board light up with a 310. I turned to Joey, searching the skeemaster's face for approval. He flashed a sheepish grin and broke the bad news: The machine had triggered the 100-point hole instead of the 50-pointer, so my real total was 260.
Joey gave me two more opportunities to polish my toss. At the SoMa StrEat Food Park, he runs a pair of outdoor skeeball machines set among food trucks and a bar housed in a barn. We competed against each other; no need to guess who won (310) and who lost (170). I left with a personal best, however, sinking my first career 100-pointer.
"You're in the zone," Joey cried out.
We finished the tour at the Clash Clubhouse, an events center illuminated by cheeky light fixtures fashioned out of fanny packs. We rolled several games, but our energy was waning. We played one more for the road, before Joey handed me a hot-pink headband for my team effort.
I slipped it on as soon as he drove away.
— — —
I sent the text message at 8:25 a.m.: "Hello, temp roomie. Are you in the apartment? If so, want to get coffee? Wait till you see my pancake bed."
It was my first morning with Galo and John, who'd agreed to shelter me in their Inner Richmond apartment. New to the world of slumber-surfing and unsure of roommate protocol, I didn't want to awaken Galo with a standard knock or holler. So I quietly texted him, and he quietly appeared outside the glass door of my bedroom, which the day before had been the dining room.