It could be the sound. The noise rises as you approach the door. It sounds almost like drums before battle. It’s appropriate, really; after all, this is no mere game. Your attacks must be planned and precise, your weapon chosen wisely. If all goes to plan, that beautifully colored 8- to 20-pound bowling ball will fly down the lane and murder those 10 pins.
Strategy is key, and it begins at the counter where you select your footwear. If you’re looking for comfort, then you should have brought your own clown shoes. Once you get a pair, put them bad boys on and walk around a bit; you know, like your mom made you do at the shoe store as a kid. Next, pick out a ball and give it a name. (Sorry, “Daddy’s Little Weeblows” is already taken.) Don’t get the heavy ball just to act like a boss; everyone will see how weak you are as you flail your way through each frame.
With your Al Bundy/Dude Lebowski costume in check, you’re probably wondering about the rules. One of the great things about bowling is you don’t really need to know them. Thanks to bowling scientists and their computer wizardry, you only have to remember one thing: Don’t cross the line where the lane begins. Without a list of rules to remember, you can spend your time crafting a name.
I say go big. Every time it’s your turn, that name will be on display for the entire alley to see. You are creating an identity. The name of your alter ego should match your attitude toward the game. I tend to fuck around more than actually try, so I go for the funny name. My nom du jour is usually bowling-related, but with heavy sexual innuendo. Last time, I took the high road and went with “Gang Bang.” My boy was “All Three Holes.” It was one of our prouder moments.
Despite my bowling enthusiasm and experience, my game is actually pretty shitty. My high score is 110 (I know, impressive right?). Unfortunately, that was an excellent game, and I usually end up more in the mid-to-low 70s. Part of the problem is that I only just learned that you are supposed to aim using the dots on the lane not the pins. If I were this bad at anything else I probably would not do it, but I always come back to bowling.
I can’t really say it’s one thing in particular. The whole experience is just ridic. The people-watching alone is worth the price of admission, which is usually pretty cheap. Plus, you can drink while you gawk/bowl and you won’t have to wait in a packed bar for a refill. And then, of course, there are the hi-jinks.
In high school, my friends and I would wear costumes when we bowled. We had the ill strike dances for all the people. After a while we brought a singing toy parrot to accompany the dancing. I once overheard a woman in the lane next to us tell her friend that I was an idiot. I promptly changed my bowling name to “The Idiot,” and she left shortly thereafter. It’s too bad she didn’t stick around; we hadn’t even gotten into any serious trick shots yet.
Reverse granny-throws are a good warm up. Using the handicap ball ramp also adds a touch of class to things. However, my personal favorite always was helping/ruining a friend’s frame by sending a second ball down their lane. Of course, the Holy Grail of hi-jinks would have to be using your body to knock down the pins, but I’ve always been afraid of the ball return mangling me. Dying that way would put you at the top of the Darwin Award shortlist, for sure.
Barring unwanted, and easily avoidable, ball mangling, you can’t go wrong with bowling (or any movies about it, but that’s for another article). It has everything you need for a good time regardless of age, race, sex or skill level. For everyone, it’s the same; once that ball leaves your hand, for a brief moment, nothing else matters. For that brief moment, the world is perfect.
By Bocephus Chigger