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Confessions of a Fanciful Bowler

photography by S. Simonsen
There are two types of people in the world: those who can bowl and those who bowl for the thrill of public humiliation. I fall into the second category—without a shadow of a doubt.

My latest excursion was an adventure of supreme humiliation, regular old fun, and exultant delight.

A dear friend of mine and I got to the bowling alley first, so of course we got started on a game. Why sit on your hands waiting when there's opportunity to begin self-abasement early?

My friend threw the first ball--literally. It bounced on the lane, and I thought it really might head over into the lane next to us, but thankfully it didn't this time. The ball bumped up against the bumpers and headed in the direction prescribed by the rules of the game. When it was my turn, I proved to myself and others how terribly I bowl. Gutters have never been my friends. I sent my fabulous purple ball down the lane FOUR times only for it to swerve to the left right before touching even one little pin. By how things commenced, one could never have guessed how the night would end.

We finished our first game. She broke 100 and I bowled . . .

—wait for it—

. . . a whopping 56!

The only thing that saved me is that after those four bouts with the gutter I got a strike of all things. It was some kind of miracle or something. It was so miraculous that a perfect stranger, bowling quite excellently in the lane next to us, yelled out an exuberant cheer and gave me an enthusiastic high-five. Yes, it was surreal. And yes, I felt conspicuously cool.

So anyways, the rest of the party showed up almost directly afterward and the regular fun phase began.

The others bowled their first rounds and I knew of a certainty I had no hope of placing anywhere except last. I resigned myself to it. And the second game ended as predicted.

But then, we started a third game and, most importantly, the exultant delight segment of this bowling jaunt.

Have you ever heard the saying the third time's the charm? Every once in awhile, one is lucky enough for it to apply to them specifically and last night was my night. We got started in about the same hilariously mediocre fashion, and then something changed. I figured out how to throw the ball. I have small, and, I guess, weak hands. Nothing like a bowling ball to point out the facts to you. So with this knowledge, I decided to go from desperately flinging the ball underhand onto the lane to flicking my wrist in an up and out motion. and it worked. I went from gutter balls and knocking down half the pins to three spares in a row, a strike, and then...I can't even remember. The rest is a blur.

In the midst of my blur, my dear friend reverted back to the methods used in our first game. Except, it was worse (and way more fabulous) this time. Long story short--she ended up throwing a gutter ball, but it wasn't the sort of gutter ball you might think. She had the bumpers up, remember? The ball went into the gutter for the lane adjacent to ours! The group next to us laughed their heads off right along with us. I think after that she got nervous, but it just made for an even better adventure. Before even this, the ball ended up trapped between our gutter and the bumper and like a good friend I walked down the lane and rescued the ball and her. But then she did it again! This time she was brave and got the ball for herself. I am so proud of this girl. She said she was the worst bowler ever, but I argue she is the most fabulous of them all. Knowing our group is of the we-bowl-for-public-humiliation camp, I say that having a good story is more important than getting a good score. 

This third game was simply epic. One of the guys went from playing like a champ in the second game to throwing so many gutter balls it wouldn't be decent to divulge statistics. Another person nearly caught up with my blaze of winningness, but couldn't quite make it. As an aside, the ability to throw the ball through your two legs and actually send pins crashing to their demise is a feat in itself and should improve anyone's score who is able to achieve such things. So even though I ended up winning the final game, everyone added to this amazing, mortifying adventure. I would wager it was the best time bowling with friends in all of recorded history.

Well, at least until next time.

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