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Friday, April 5, 2013

Having a Ball

It’s Spring Break this week, and it’s been so good to have a reprieve from the rush, rush, RUSH of the school week. I’ve woken up when my body was ready, not when the evil alarm clock began its pre-dawn cock-a-doodle-doo. We’ve floated through the days, not confined by the school schedule or homework volume. It’s been awesome!
A highlight this week was taking the kids bowling. I hadn’t been bowling in many years, although I like it and I’ve always had fun when I go. I suppose the kids’ schedules and needs have put bowling on back burner. But we made plans to go and everyone was excited.
Although I’m not great at bowling, I find it fun. I like the noise of the ball smacking pins. I like the smell of fried things wafting over from the old-school snack bar. I like the rows of shiny, brightly-colored bowling balls and the glossiness of oiled wooden lanes.

I like the unpretentious vibe of bowling. It doesn’t have the snooty country-club air of polo matches (not that I speak from experience). Anyone is welcome. You don’t have to be rich, white, fit, fast, tall, or Ivy League to do it. You can do it alone or with a group. Just show up. Tell them your shoe size and find a ball you like. (I chose bright red!) Then hurl the ball down the lane and see what happens.
I associate bowling with 1950s teenagers having fun before heading to the drive-in restaurant where they order malts from a carhop on roller skates. For years, I’ve collected photos of neon signs outside bowling alleys, a throwback to eye-catching roadside architecture of the ‘40s and’50s.

But I’m way off. Bowling is much older than that. Apparently an early form of bowling dates to Ancient Egypt. It is also thought that Roman soldiers developed a game in which they tossed stone objects close to other stone objects. This evolved into Italian Bocce ball, a form of outdoor bowling. But back to the present (relatively-speaking.) In 1895, the first standardized rules for bowling were created in New York City. It’s refreshing that the nature of this activity hasn’t changed much over time. Yes, they now have a computerized score-keeping system so the paper score cards and mini pencils retired to Florida. But the basic game has not changed. The computer age has not altered the essential goal of knocking pins down with a ball.

Since it had been over a decade since I last played, I held no expectations of setting records. The only goal was to have a good time. To my astonishment, my first time up I got a strike! Of course, soon my beginner’s luck had morphed into beginner’s blunders and I returned to my spotty scores. I loved seeing the kids have fun, sometimes watching a ball creep down the lane slower than I thought possible, other times zooming down to get a strike. Hubby even got two strikes while taking a business call (cell phone in one hand, ball in the other)! He believes in multi-tasking.

I need to make a point to bowl more often. Regardless of the score, it feels good to play. When time was up we returned the shoes and made our way home. Everyone agreed it was a great way to spend an afternoon during spring break. We had a ball…

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