Friday, March 16, 2012

Bowling makes a comeback


One would think that I would be a decent bowler, considering how much time I spent in a bowling alley during my childhood.  One would also think that since a large portion of females in my family bowled on leagues and even had their own fancy shoes and balls that I would be a respectable bowler.  One might even think that since my mother had a plaque hanging on the wall of the Seven Hills Bowling Alley commemorating her perfect bowling game that maybe one of those skillful bowling genes could have gotten passed down to me and I would be able to follow in her stylish footsteps.
But if one thought that, that person would be sadly wrong, and I am left to scar the family name in the world of bowling.  I may never know if I disappointed my mother by being so terrible that breaking 100 is cause for exuberant and exaggerated celebration, but chances are she’ll tell me after reading these words.
Truth be told, bowling was a really big deal for me growing up.  I spent many a Tuesday night while my mother and grandmother had their league at the lanes.  I used to hop around the building on the colored tiled floor with some pattern game I created because when you’re a kid alone in a bowling alley with a hundred women, what you do is drink root beer and eat pretzel rods and hop through a haze of smoke.  I probably should have paid more attention to the game, but you have to realize that every Sunday morning after church we would go to my Grandparent’s house to do three things:  eat, watch the Polka Variety Show and move the coffee table and dance, and then put the table back and watch bowling tournaments.  There is only so much bowling a non-bowling kid can handle.
Soon enough I started to grow.  Suddenly my hands were big enough to reach all three holes in the ball and strong enough to hoist the heavy thing down the lane.  Still, the hours I spent among bowling did nothing for my abilities and when we had a school field trip to the bowling alley to practice our math filling out scoring sheets (I’m not making this up, and if you’ve ever scored bowling by hand you know what a great math exercise it actually is), my math skills were barely used; No strikes or spares makes for an easy addition grade.
But this was all so many years ago, and someone out there might argue that bowling is a dying recreation.  I beg to differ, based on the rebirth of bowling that has taken place in my own family.  Besides the bowling video game that has become so popular, my family has found a new love for the real deal.  The magical invention of automatic bumpers and automated scoring and the smoke-free environment makes it a great place to haul your kids.  It’s a real, tangible game in a world of electronic entertainment that requires you to actually hold a heavy object in your hands and flop it down the lane.  It’s a turn-taking, cheer-on-your-friends, wash-your-hands and then go eat-some-snacks kind of evening that takes old-fashioned family fun to a new level.  And you don’t even have to do the math.
I like to think that one of life’s purposes is to make memories.  Not that you should live in the past, but there’s something sweet about bringing a piece of your past into your present, even if that something sweet is the smell of bowling shoes and the depressing fact that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never out-bowl your mother.  So maybe you’ll just grab a root beer and hop around and hope that your kids pay attention to the bowler in the next lane.





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