A T RINALDI'S RIVERDALE BOWL ON
Kenilworth Avenue, you can try to pick up a 7-10 split all night long, seven days a week. But there's a price to pay for such a peculiar luxury -- and it's more than the $2.25-a-game cost. For when you walk into Rinaldi's, you walk into an unusual, if congenial, world of bowling law-and-order.
At Rinaldi's, a rule is a rule is a rule; if you don't believe it, you can look it up on the wall. Dozens of directives are scattered throughout the alley. About the only things not specifically banned on the premises by written notice are spitting, smoking and interstate mail fraud.
Despite the arbitrary set of rules, an assortment of people who work odd hours or live odd lives often gather late for tenpin trysts; on many Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, bowlers who arrive even well past midnight must wait a good while for one of the 32 lanes.
Of course, many bowling alleys are filled with signs, but Rinaldi's leans on the written word even more than most. The score of signs resulted from a changing clientele, according to general manager Irene Divver, who has worked at the alley for 17 years. The lanes increasingly attracted a more contentious, argumentative breed of bowler, and management counteracted each new disagreement with a handwritten regulation for all to see.
"When we communicated a policy, often they would say, 'Where's your sign?' " Divver explained.
But does it really help settle disputes? "Oh, yeah. We just point to the sign, and there's no argument. Some clientele just need to see the policy."
Among the more unusual and restrictive posted orders are these:
We Reserve the Right to Refuse Paging of Nonbowlers for Incoming Calls
To Receive Your Lane, You Must Leave Your Drivers License at the Control Desk
You Must Have 7 People for Two Lanes. No Exceptions
Attention: There Will Be No Bottle Beer Sold After Midnight, Only Draft Beer. Approved by the Management
Don't Throw Beer Bottles Away
Attention Parents: If You Bring Your Children Remember They Are Yours
Don't Destroy Bowling Equipment
One Shoe Must Be Turned In for Rental Shoes
We Do Not Accept Bedroom Shoes or Flip Flops
In addition, there are reminders about no loitering, no refunds and no gambling. It's tough to roll a 180 in this state of paranoia -- any move at any time could draw a whistle from the front desk.
But should anyone consider questioning any points in Rinaldi's Riverdale Bowl's bill of rights, the proprietors also have posted the sign to end all arguments: There's No Reason for It -- It's Just Our Policy.