When we went bowling a few days ago, a friend of ours remarked, “Hey, you have a Tweety bowling ball!” I just smiled enigmatically, and thought, Yes, I do. But why the customization, you ask? Apart from the need to distinguish mine from the alley balls, the flaming skull-and-crossbones, eyeball, and golf ball motifs really weren’t my cup of tea. What is more surprising is the fact that it’s a very lightweight bowling ball for an adult. Because even the 10 lb ones are too heavy for little me to heft comfortably, and I bowled my best game–167, thanks to three consecutive opening strikes, and yes, that’s with the gutter lanes open–with an 8 lb alley bowling ball. Yes, it’s barely half of a perfect game, but unfortunately (and quite pathetically), it’s a feat that I have never managed to repeat or outdo.
I’ve come to regard ten-pin bowling, like golf, in a love-hate light. But I also think of it as billiards without the cue stick–not that I fared any better with a cue stick that was longer than I was tall (I should not have paid some attention to high school physics and geometry). Advice to first time bowlers: clip the ol’ fingernails before bowling. Second piece of advice: wear exercise gloves if you indulge in bowling marathons. Your palms will thank you for it. Third piece of advice: doing a double-handed bowl from between your legs won’t get you a strike. It will make you look extremely silly, though.
The best time to bowl is when there is no one else to witness your unconscious attempts for self-humiliation (i.e. when you “goose egg” a frame. Or fail to capitalize on that strike or spare from the previous frame. Or when you bowl 0, 9 for consecutive frames, and throw away your chance to break the undignified baseline score of 100). This means that Friday nights are probably out, although if that also happens to be Cosmic Bowling night, you can rely on snazzy UV lights and loud technopop music to dim your foolish efforts a bit.
Is there a “winning” pose? I’ve seen some of the better bowlers finish with the right leg crooked over the left and the hips twisted at a 25-degree angle. Seems a professional enough way to end things. Others prefer the down-on-one-knee/will-you-marry-me pose. For others, flailing with one leg up and making angel wings at the same time seems to be the preferred stance. For myself, I’ve found that the closer I get to the ground, the better the chance of making that elusive creature called a strike, and the less the tendency to bowl a hard right or hard left. No need to have a big windup; just walk right up to the line. In fact, if I belly bowled …
The best moment I had in a bowling alley? Quite a few years ago, it was watching one fellow in the lane to our left who failed to let go of his bowling ball. All of him went, with his fingers still in the bowling ball, and a very sheepish expression plastered on his very red face, down the very well-oiled lane to the amusement and/or shock of players in the other lane and the buzz-killing sound of the lane buzzer. It’s the kind of [priceless] moment that you’d expect to see in a movie. I count myself lucky to have seen it in in the rarefied moment of real life.
For the most part, I’ll be sticking to Wii Bowling, thank you, and not because I’ve done more than my fair share of chickens, doubles, turkeys, hambones, brats, and even the odd six-pack (bowling has such an interesting lingo!) The personal best of 299 is a big incentive, too. Also, Wii bowling balls are nice and light (and non-existent); they can be colour customized on the fly, and the ridiculous curve I can do to knock down all the pins in each frame is simply not replicable in the real world–not without severely spraining my wrist. I can also get an insane four-digit score with 100-pin bowling. It’s a form of bowling that doesn’t exist in the real world, because resetting the pins would take forever (not to mention that investing in so many pins could bankrupt most bowling alleys. Can you imagine investing in 1,000+ pins for a 10-lane bowling alley? And getting staff to reset pins that get stuck? I’d get old, waiting for that to happen).
- Strings of Strikes: What to Call Each Series of Consecutive Strikes (bowling.about.com)