Remember when we were kids and bowling alleys were seedy, dark, smokey places that you tended to avoid unless armed or at least protected by your dad? Remember when you used to have to know how to keep score? Now bowling alleys are bright, hip, happening spots with laser light shows. They require nothing from you in the way of mathematical equations. Some of them are even open 24-hours, 7-days a week in case you feel an urgent need to bowl at 4:00 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Some things about the bowling experience have not changed, however. The shoes. The search for the perfect ball (there must be a secret handshake required to secure one that's less than 20 pounds). The pop of your thumb joint when the holes are too small. The way you ridiculously wave at the ball when you want it to move to the center of the lane as it veers toward the gutter. The dirty old men. The need for a few beers before you can really get in the groove, but maybe that's just me.
Yesterday's bowling adventure was a painful reminder that I haven't bowled for years without the benefit of the kid bumpers. I like the kid bumpers. They make me a better bowler. They provide hope. Yesterday I was nothing if not consistent, however. I either hit no pins or all ten of them. This makes it difficult to break the 100 barrier. And since we're on the topic of lousy bowlers, I have a brilliant idea. I think there should be a league for people like me. People who suck at bowling. You would have to try out first and if you score 125 or above you can't be in the league. I think that would be fun. There would probably be lots of drinking, merciless teasing, and poor self-esteem going around.
Despite my crappy bowling skills, I do think bowling, as an activity, has a lot going for it:
- It's family-friendly and ideal for those with young children (you can justify use of the bumpers.)
- It's a no-tech choice. Damn the Wii, the X-Box, the Playstation. Let's throw a heavy ball down a wooden lane and see how much stuff we can knock over!
- It encourages cheering, jeering, and friendly banter.
- It practically demands the consumption of beer.
- It does not discriminate by body type or athletic ability. Stop by an alley some weekday afternoon for proof of this statement.
- It is an inherently hopeful sport. You always get a 2nd chance. Don't get all the pins on the first shot? Go again! Heck, do that 10 times till your wrist and hips ache!
If you're a fairly lousy bowler who likes to drink beer and talk smack, call me. Let's hit the lanes!