Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This Entry Contains the Word "Balls" A Lot

I LOVE bowling. In fact, it seems like a secret underground thing where everyone loves bowling, but for some reason this never comes up in the exhaustive “what do you want to do this weekend?”, “I don’t know, what do you want to do this weekend?” conversations, maybe because somehow there is some stigma surrounding bowling where you assume that you are isolated in the universe in your enjoyment of it and no one will ever speak to you again if you allow the others to find out your secret.

Then, inevitably, someone suggests bowling, and everyone you know comes out to bowl, and you have an absolute blast and find out the real truth about your friends. Because y’all, nothing brings out an inner evil competitive spirit like bowling.

Anyway, Peanut and I decided to go bowling Friday night. So we found a place with open bowling, got our lane and shoes, and began the first ritual of the bowling alley.

The Search For The Ball.

Because, as everybody knows, the key to great bowling has nothing to do with the skill of the bowler. At All. The key to great bowling is finding the right bowling ball. You know this is true. Someone throws a bad frame or two, what is the first thing they do? Go get another ball. I have actually seen fights among people where person A started using person B’s ball, and bowled better with it, sending person B into a riotous snit fit because that was their ball, and all of the magical good luck that went with the ball was discovered by them and the person A was stealing it, and that is cheating, and who wants to bowl with a cheater?

My hypothesis was proven by a quick glance around the lanes. Peanut and I were bowling on one lane, with another couple on the attached lane. Four people bowling. Nine bowling balls. The group to the left of us? Six people. Twelve balls.

My amusement was only heightened when The Great Ball Swap occurred. Peanut and I had not started out exactly on fire, and so of course we were looking for new balls. However, as I explained, given the ratio of bowlers to balls, we weren’t having much luck. Then we noticed that that couple? On the attached lane? Had a very nice green ball. It was like the Platonic Ideal of bowling balls, and the Peanut and I very much coveted it, sure that if we could just get our hands on that ball, all of our woes would be over. (Actually, the couple had two green balls, but again, see above re: number of balls). We, however, did not have the green ball. At that point we had a light blue ball, a dark blue ball, and orange ball, and a marbled blue ball.

But then… the woman next to us picked up the orange ball. Which was clearly our ball, but we weren’t going to complain, because then we could steal the green one! And we sort of made this swap without actually saying anything, but we all bowled better, and everyone was happy.

Except, just to recap: after spending an inordinate amount of time trying out and collecting balls, Peanut and I ended up using the same one, that we didn’t even find.

Of course, the ball really is the critical part of the game, because the ball is psychically connected to you. You know this. This is why it is impossible to just throw the ball down the lane, turn around, and go back to your seat. How will the ball know where to go? It is scientifically required to stand in front of the lane, talking to the ball, and if possible moving your body in the way you want the ball to go.

There are many methods of doing this, including:

The Bowler Lean: Planting one foot on the floor, lift up the other foot and lean the entire body in the direction you want the ball to veer in. Bonus points if you actually fall over.

The Hop: As the ball goes down the lane, make very teeny tiny hops in the direction you need the ball to veer. Challenge: Get as many hops in as possible without crossing into the next lane. (Note: This requires very tiny hops).

The Fake Out: Before bowling, whisper to the ball what you want it to do. Throw it, and then turn around and pretend to nonchalantly return to your seat. At the last possible moment, turn back around, and in movement as reminiscent of an epileptic seizure as possible remind the ball where you wanted it to go, with arm motions and jumping.

General Rule: The psychic connection between bowler and ball increases proportionally with the amount of beer consumed.

Unfortunately, Peanut and I did not consume a lot of beer, as it was Friday, and we were tired, and really, the beer would not have helped so much with the already excruciatingly bad bowling we were doing.

However, we intend to go bowling again very soon. And this time? I will not rest until I find the perfect ball.