Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chapter 2: Who's that lady?

[Continued from Chapter 1]

When I say I have been bowling for four years, it is a half truth. You see, when the Bowl Movements were formed, we entered Bernaski in the 2nd half of the 06-07 season. According to the almighty and infallible archives of the United States Bowling Congress (Bowler ID #2609-911), I only bowled 39 games that season.

As the Fall of 2007 rolled around, we were solicited by the league secretary to bowl the full year, but Joe and John opted to again only bowl the 2nd half. The reason? Bowling on Monday nights interfered with another important activity- watching Monday Night Football. Although my interest in the NFL took a hit a long time ago, I didn't really mind. So, in the 07-08 season, we bowled just half a league, so our first two "years" of bowling really just counted for one.

By the start of my second attempt at league bowling, I felt like I was getting a feel for the environment. I knew a lot of the other bowler's names, although I am fairly certain that nobody on another team knew mine. Having figured out the basic rules of operation of the system, it was time to step things up a notch. It was time to buy my own ball.

Our anchor, Daniele, was using a hand me down 14 lbs Qubica house ball, which he had somehow acquired via genetic connections. I think his uncle had once owned an alley. The "Bica" was not custom drilled for him, but he still had the air of a bowler who brings his own equipment to the lanes rather than searching the racks for three minutes for a suitable "housey". Johnebob went for a 14 lbs Brunswick Axis, which he found for peanuts on eBay, and had drilled at the Lanes of Laramie to perfectly snug his digits.

I had no idea what to look for in a ball. I just wanted to lose the stigma of the jedi who has to borrow a lightsaber before dueling Darth Pinnius. Ok, that was a really dorky thing to write, but you know what I mean. When you are the only dude going for a house ball at the start of league, it's kind of like being picked last in a game of dodgeball. It was definitely time to acquire my own weapon, but what kind? My train of thought on the matter was something like this, "I am one of the worst bowlers in league. A ball really won't change that much, but with time, I'd like to start throwing a hook. I know that some balls hook more than others, but I really don't understand why. I should get a cheap ball... maybe like one step above cheap." By this process, I settled on the Columbia-300 Scout Reactive.

Before buying this ball, I had made the switch from the 11 lbs pink house ball to a 12 lbs green housey, which reminds me of what I used to say about my first bowling love, "I like my bowling balls as I like my women- pink and fast." If you are going to use a pink house ball, you need a joke like this. So anyway, I ordered a green and silver Scout Reactive at a weight of 13 lbs. It was and remains a truly beautiful object. I named her with the first phrase that came to mind, "The Green Lady". I was very excited to drill the Green Lady, or to have her drilled. That sounds a bit voyeuristic, doesn't it?

When I entered the "pro shop" at Laramie Lanes for the first time, I again felt like a stranger in a strange land. First, who knew there was an upstairs to the place? I certainly didn't. The "pro shop" is probably about 120 square feet in area, but seems more like a closet with balls and bags strewn around everywhere. A drill press occupies the position of honor, like Athena in the Parthenon. After being carefully measured and watching the Green Lady getting drilled by some strange bowling alley guy, I started to appreciate for the first time that there was a lot more to bowling than I had realized. I was impressed not only by the process of hand measurement but also by how the holes were placed onto the ball relative to the core, methods of drilling angles, finger diameter measurements, and how hole spacing related to hand morphology . This was a big thing for me. I understood that I was unskilled at rolling bowling balls, but for the first time I truly recognized how little I actually knew about the game.

A new bowling ball can be a cruel mistress, especially when she is your first. You have high expectations, but for some reason, the first time is always awkward. Why should we expect otherwise? Neither of us really have any experience together. Still, you have waited a long time for this moment. You really want it to be great, but my first time with the Green Lady was absolutely terrible.

The problem was the grip. Sure, she fit my hand like a glove, but I was used to wearing mittens. Here's what I mean. When she was getting drilled, Shell asked me, "Do you want to throw a hook?"

I said, "I don't at the moment, but eventually I would like to learn how."

"How does a fingertip grip sound?"

"Great, I think."

So, for 35 years or so, I had been bowling by inserting my fingers deep into those holes, two knuckles deep. In fact, my fingers had always served as guides for the ball on the release, like the inverse of bullets traversing the barrel of three rifles. This fingertip grip did not feel right. Thinking back on it, it felt wrong, just plain wrong. Sure, I arrived to the lanes with a brand new, hyper-glossy, beautiful bowling ball, in a new bag. I would no longer slum around in the land of racked house balls before league. Yet, no matter how turbo charged the Green Lady looked, I could not throw her to save my life. Sadly, that was just the start of the disaster that I know as "The Lost Year".

[continued in Chapter 3]

5 comments:

  1. Throwing a straight ball with finger tip grips is hard. I experimented a bit, going for the 10 pin with a straight shot release and the ball still curled away, albeit not as pronounced as my regular shot but just enough to make me doubt it's usefulness. I don't need to be playing mind games with myself as I'm shooting for the 10 pin, it's hard enough as it is.

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  2. There's an upstairs to the lanes? Seriously?!

    One of these days, I'll have to try this out. I'm interested in learning a hook, but am afraid to try it without some sort of guidance. Maybe we can ask our "bosses" for a joint golfing-drinking-bowling outing for the betterment of both this blog and the universe in general....

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  3. Gosh! I had like about 2 to 3 disaster years before I managed, sort of, to change over after 6 or so years of 30kmh straight bowling. Muscle memory is evil.
    Your story has managed to make me finally admit that I'm a fan of the BM report:)
    Greetings from Poland.

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  4. Hey Hugh, Well, don't be convinced just yet that the BM Report is worth your time. Most of the time, it's just crazy rantings. Still, I am glad that I managed to strike a chord.

    K-terk, you should definitely work on the hook, if only to see the upstairs lair.

    MD, I agree. Throwing straight with the fingertips is a totally different animal.

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  5. Oh and I'm glad to know that I have now reached the Eastern Block. I'm actually one quarter Polish (also 1/4 english, 1/4 russian, and 1/4 German Shepherd).

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