Bowling with the Homies

We had a friend visiting from back home last week. For something to do, we decided to hit the local bowling alley. It was the first time I had been on the lanes in about seven years, so I was kind of curious to see how I would do. I used to be a pretty fair bowler. After all, for about eight years I bowled in at least one league week. My personal high was a 201; it was the only time I broke 200.

I never really thought about how bowling really permeated my life until now. I have very early memories of going with my babysitter as she bowled in a weekday ladies’ bowling league. I have vague recollections of being in the nursery; I have stronger memories of wandering around the bowling alley with a friend whose mother also bowled. I couldn’t have been more than four or five. I also remember having a pair of Roos, tennis shoes with a little pocket on the side. My mom would always put a little money in there for me to get a snack or play game in the arcade.

When I was a little bit older, maybe six or seven, I remember going to the local bowling alley to pick up my babysitter’s son. He was seven years older than me, so when I started first grade at the local Catholic school he was in eighth grade. He bowled in the school league. I think that is when I first discovered that bowling alley’s always have the tastiest French fries. (It is a proven fact!!)

I believe I was in the third grade when I became eligible for the school bowling league. A lot of kids in the school bowled. Unless you made onto a sports team or were elected to the student council, there were no extra-curricular activities. We took up about 26 out of about 32 lanes. The hardest thing about being involved with bowling was trying to scrounge up rides after school. For most of my years, I ended up riding with a classmates mother who had one of those large old-time vans. There would usually be five to ten of us girls crammed in the back (before seat belt laws) trying to change out of our school uniforms during the five minute drive.

Pretty much the whole time I was in grade school I bowled with two of my guy friends, Matt and Joey. We called ourselves “The Cannonballs” (very original I know). Some years we had a fourth; some years we didn’t. When I was in about fifth or sixth grade, I decided to do a Saturday morning league as well. I didn’t know any one else, so I was assigned to a team that needed a fourth. They were a nice group of kids and their families, and I bowled with them for two years before I decided I wanted my Saturday mornings back.

When I was doing two leagues, my parents acquired me a second-hand bowling ball and my own pair of bowling shoes. No more rentals for me. Within about two or three years, though, I lost my bowling ball. How in the world do you lose a bowling ball? It’s all a little fuzzy. I just remember going to the back of the classroom to get my coat, back pack, and bowling bag and realizing the bag wasn’t there. I remembered having it that morning, so I figured that I must have left it on the school bus. We called the school and the bus company, but we never saw the bowling ball again.

In high school I decided to continue bowling, but I was pretty much the only person from my grade school or high school who did. There was a very small mixed (public and private) high school league. I managed to catch a ride with a high school classmate whose brother bowled in the league. He always had to pick her up after school, so he took me along as well. I did that for two years before I decided to hang up my bowling shoes.

Over the next few years I occasionally hit the lanes with friends for something to do or after a dance. I watched with a certain sadness as the manual score-keeping with projectors, plastic film score sheets, and yellow pencils was replaced by computer score-keeping. I know that all of the manual score-keeping I had done, often for my team and the opposing team, really boosted my math skills. When I later took Bowling as my P.E. credit for college, the final exam was to manually calculate the score for ten frames. I was done in two minutes and out the door.

So it had been about seven years since I had bowled, and it was my first time in our local lanes. They didn’t have shoes small enough for DD#2 who was having her first try.  They also didn’t carry any nine-pound balls, which was my standard.  I don’t know if all bowling alleys are this way now, but this one had different colored balls based on weight in even number from 8 to 16.  They also had them marked by the size of the finger-holes.  I was used to the old method of trying your fingers in fifty balls until you found one that felt right.

I ended up going with a 10-pound ball (in a dark red) with Medium holes.  I probably should have gone for Small holes, but with three kids in tow I didn’t have much time to mess around.  Plus, we had to quickly play our games before the evening league came in and took over the lanes.  The ball was a bit heavier than I was used to, but I did pretty well.  I got a 133 on the first round, and I think I got 154 on the second round.  (Once I finished my last roll it was quite a rush of getting bowling shoes and balls returned.)

The girls had a lot of fun, too; we had a separate lane with bumpers for them.  DD#2 would roll the ball, and it would take about 5 minutes to reach the pins.  I am not exaggerating.  But she is just shy of three.  My oldest was quite amazed that not only was her mother good at something athletic, but mommy was actually better than daddy.  My only regret is that we didn’t have the time to get a big helping of bowling alley fries…maybe next time.

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One Comment on “Bowling with the Homies”

  1. Joe Says:

    Bowling has always fascinated me, in part because of the inflated scores everybody claims. I’ve never seen anything like it. You can talk to like ten random people and one of them at least, probably more like 3-4, will claim to be people who average about 240. I’m just wondering if bowling either a) bring out the liar in people or b) brings out the terrible math in people… because frankly, most people aren’t very good at it.

    Myself included. I broke into the 180s one time. As for an average, probably in the 130-150 range someplace.

    Bowling alleys do have good fries. And sometimes have the added bonus of good blind karaoke leaders. 😉


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