Monday, April 22, 2013

take the skinheads bowling

"Let's see... who haven't I offended yet? Hmmm... I've covered old people, dog owners, plumbers, commuters, students, residents of Las Vegas, people with tattoos, Dick Van Dyke's wife, followers of religion and even members of my extended family. How about if I offend bowlers now? Yeah, that's a good idea." — JPiC
I hate bowling. It's a stupid sport, if it can even be called a sport. I don't understand how professional bowlers (y'know, those crew-cut sporting guys you see on Saturday afternoon TV with that big leather apparatus strapped to their wrists) don't get a strike every time they bowl. They are professionals, after all. It's not like baseball or football, where there are other players on the field trying to stop you from scoring. It's not like weather conditions are a concerning factor. The alleys are all the same length and width. The pins are all the same size and the same distance from the foul line and they are always set up in the same configuration. It's not like billiards, where you have no control over the break or how your opponent breaks. Each bowler plays each frame by himself. Plus, every pro bowler has his own ball. HIS OWN BALL! It's a clear 60-foot shot from one end of the alley down to the pins. No obstacles. No rough. No traps. No goalie. No defensive linemen trying to deflect your shot or cross-checking you. If you're a professional, you should be knocking those pins down with your eyes closed every single time, thus making bowling an even more boring activity than it already is.

Years ago, when my son was little and I was still on speaking terms with my sister-in-law, we were all making plans for New Years Eve. My sister-in-law told my wife that her family tradition always included a full evening of bowling to welcome the new year.

"That sounds like fun!," my wife said, smiling cheerfully.

I interrupted. "Perhaps you didn't hear the same thing I heard. None of that sounds remotely 'like fun'"

Last week, a super secret special outing was announced as a social experience for the members of my department at work. In the few days prior to the actual event, there was much speculation as to what it would be. On the morning of "the big day," it was revealed that we, as a group, would be going bowling.

"Oh great!," I said before a packed conference room after our weekly department meeting, "Two things I can't stand: bowling and my co-workers." "Not you guys, of course.," I quickly added.

So, that afternoon, I found myself in a dimly-lit bowling alley surrounded by my jovial co-workers - forced to participate in the futility of toppling pear-shaped blocks of maple with a 13-pound urethane sphere. Luckily, there was pizza.

My first attempt ended in the gutter. So did my second. And my third. In the fourth frame, I managed to wing the 7 pin before my ball disappeared into the mysterious reaches of "whatever goes on beyond the pins." So, with a score of "1" at the midway point, I took my game into the home stretch. In frame eight, I miraculously eked out a strike while simultaneously fucking up the third finger on my right hand. I released the ball and my finger slipped from the drilled hole at an unnatural angle. Perhaps it was some stray pizza cheese or excess grease from the french fries (which were also pretty good). Whatever the cause, my finger began to swell like an inflated balloon. I gripped an ice-filled glass and bitched a little out loud, but I was a good sport and I continued to play two more complete games.

At the conclusion of our little jaunt - as much as I hate to admit it - I actually had fun. We joked and laughed and mock-insulted each other. And, we blew off working for three hours. I didn't even give much consideration to the thousands and thousands of people who wore those rented shoes before I did.

I still don't see myself bowling anytime soon. Unless, of course, my boss requires it.

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