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May 13, 2014 7:19 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: On a roll: Bowling like riding a bike

Written by Doug Blough

Today I did something I did a lot as a boy that brought me great pleasure. No, I didn’t drag a hidden Playboy from underneath my bed to read under the covers by flashlight; it’s been several years since I’ve done that.

No, I went bowling. And after only once in the last 20 years, I was jubilantly stunned that I’ve still got it — and then some.

Maybe like riding a bicycle or hiding Playboys, you never really lose it. I often dream about bowling and wonder how a dream analyst might translate, particularly since I’m never able to start the actual bowling since I can’t find a ball to fit my fingers.

They’re either tiny finger holes, or spaced too far apart for both my fingers and thumb. It’s very somnambulistically (how’s THAT for a word?) disconcerting.

But on this day, there was indeed a ball that fit my slender fingers and it said “Blazing Inferno” with flames painted on it. And I did indeed scorch those lanes and knock those sitting duck pins senseless. I was on fire, I tell ya.

Just like I often crave a bacon sandwich, I had been craving a bowling excursion for weeks. I don’t know why or what planted the seed, but I planned on going to the Super Bowl and bowling all alone like I do most things in my life.

On second thought, I remembered my tattooed pal Chris Mitchell also wasn’t working, so I picked him up at noon and we were directed to Lane 6 with some oddly attractive new shoes.

Strike after strike I heaved — at one point bunching three in a row. Other than a birdie in golf, there’s no feeling quite like a pocket hit and watching 10 pins dance like popcorn in a red-hot pan. In four games, I averaged 163 with a high of 194, blowing away my much-younger, flabbergasted opponent.

My low game of 138 can only be attributed to the desperate, sadistic heckling showered upon me by Chris each time I made my approach.

Even that wasn’t enough to prevent my beating the snot out of the boy four consecutive games. In Chris’ defense though, he’s had little kegling experience and he does have several bulging discs, but even a healthy veteran would have had his hands full with me that day. My flaming ball and I were as one.

Bowling is such a wonderful, innocent sport, and the best exercise known to man. Those four brisk steps, lasting several seconds every five minutes, really gets that blood a-pumpin’ and holding one’s hand over the hand blower stimulates tricep, latissimus dorsi and deltoid muscles, fully engaging several muscles at once.

Some of your noblest men in history — Ralph Kramden, Al Bundy and Fred Flintstone to name a few — were avid bowlers. It’s one of the few sports in which one can enjoy snacks and a hot or cold beverage while engaging in the vigorous activity. Cold beer for instance, loaded with the complex carbohydrates necessary for maximum sports endurance, is one preferred beverage often accompanying bowling.

It’s curious how one has an innate love for one thing or another from a young age as I’ve had for bowling since I can remember. Long before our older, visiting brother first took us bowling when I was about 12, I knew I loved it and practiced with the plastic balls and pins I got for Christmas.

I’d take my approach in the kitchen and those plastic pins would fly all over the dining room. Yes, I was born to bowl.

I joined a league when I was 15 and my average was only around 135. Yet here I am as a handsome adult after nearly 20 years of a bowling sabbatical and I averaged 162. Somewhere there’s a team crying out for my services.

In all my years, bowling has brought only one bad memory, but it’s a doozy. My sister’s boyfriend Ralph had fixed me up with a cheerleader from his school who was waaay over my head and I was already quaking with fear when we picked her up for our bowling double date.

There I stood with my bell-bottoms and orange Nehru shirt eyeing the pins with my only real focus on my huge chin pimple I kept catching her glancing at.

I made my wobbly approach and just as I’m about to let go of the ball, I stepped on the waxy tip of my bowling shoestring and after a few seconds of seizure-like flailing, landed ass-first in the gutter, ringing the foul line buzzer during the slide.

That, my friends — not the dreaded 7-10 — is the game’s toughest spare to pick up. I never recovered as the night declined into a tie for the worst date of my life.

Other than that debacle, bowling has been very, very good to me.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link June 03, 2014 9:26 am posted by Phoebe

    Is there betting in bowling?

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