Tales of Breakups at Splitsville, South Miami's New Bowling Alley

Anything involving preying mantises and Madonna can't be boring.

Melissa, a blonde in her late forties who looks like she's been bitch-slapped by the sun, kneels in a pair of tight Swarovski crystal-studded jeans on a shiny dance floor. As a neon green disco light slices across her nipped (then tucked, Botoxed, and chemically peeled) face, she seductively tugs a skinny striped scarf from around her neck.

With a quick pelvic thrust, she lifts the knitted neckwear above her head and swirls it like a naughty cowgirl hoping to lasso a young DJ who seems deeply engrossed in the act of avoiding eye contact. Her lust doesn't go unnoticed. A man with white hair sporting an equally age-inappropriate ensemble that includes an Ed Hardy tee, swoops her up and attempts to swing dance to Britney Spear's "Womanizer."

It doesn't work. She turns her back and walks away.

Wardell Brown

"Breaking up is hard to do," Neil Sedaka sang in that sickeningly syrupy 1962 pop oldie. Or maybe it's easy. But it's why I've come to this swanky, upscale bowling alley, Splitsville (5701 Sunset Dr., Ste. 350), to find out. Lanes here go for $60 to $95 per hour. Cutesy Americanized sushi with names like the Bubba Roll (shocker — it has shrimp) is the norm. And a multigenerational mix of Top 40 favorites, from Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" to No Doubt's "Ex-Girlfriend," make it easy to pry a saga of heartbreak from any champagne (or DanActive)-sipping patron.

"Most of my break-up stories are sad," Melissa begins in a voice scruffed-up by Virginia Slims. "A few months ago, I dumped a guy during a blind date. He was cute and took me to a nice place, but he kept on talking about a business trip he just took to China and how all the condoms there were too small for him." She rolls her eyes, which are ruled with smudged liner, and adds that the Chinaman had a penchant for puncturing his Johnson. "Not only is it pierced; it's been pierced three times!"

No wonder, I think, the female preying mantis bites the head off of her mate right after hot, steamy insect intercourse. Next, as the first few chords of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" sound, I hone in on two women chitchatting at a high bar table backed by one of the many giant bowling-pin columns that dot this megamerriment multiplex.

Cheri — a 55-year-old Trinidadian with a honey-hued complexion, dangling amber earrings, and a leopard-print sleeveless turtleneck — is clearly affected by the song. She's quick to relay her marrying-divorcing-remarrying history. "My first husband was a jerk. After 13 years, he cheated on me. When I found out, I wanted to do something drastic to get his attention. Although I had kicked him out of our apartment the day before, we decided to go to a party together on New Year's Eve, and when we got there, I told him he could have any ho that he could find, because by this time, I had already met another man, who was also at the party.

"That night, I talked [the other] guy into moving in with me. Three days later, my husband tried to come back home and found that I had changed all the locks. He knocked on the door, and my new boyfriend answered and let him know that our marriage was over. Then I married that guy for three years and then left his ass."


"He wouldn't let me out of the house or have friends or drive or wear shorts!" she says, her hazel eyes popping from their sockets. "He once tried to hit me, so I put his ass in jail. But nowadays I'm like ... yeah!" She proceeds to do the cabbage patch and then sips on a glass of water while joyfully flipping though a menu.

I guess for Cheri, the movie never ends.

It goes on and on and on and on.

In serious need of a steroid-laced dose of testosterone, I move on to two men, both appearing to be in their forties, who are finishing up a game on one of several clusters of lanes.

"I don't have a break-up story," says Adam, a gap-toothed guy whose cell phone, which is glued to his ear, seems to keep dropping calls from his wife. "But I have a story about how I saved my marriage."

This sounds refreshing.

"Basically, I found out she was a lesbian...." All of a sudden his wife is on the line. "Hi! What, hon?" After a short conversation about nothing, he hangs up. "I don't think she's going to like me sharing this, but ... we were all drinking at Don Carter's in Kendall, playing pool, and I don't know what happened, but one thing led to another and she was all over Mike's wife."

Mike, a silver fox and unfortunately Adam's friend, smiles nervously and nods toward the door. He's eager to get out of here.

Adam continues: "So now we have this arrangement where we bowl and our wives get together. It's kind of cool and it's kind of hot. I'm not sure what initiated it, but I'm thinking it was all the balls."

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