Last night, we bowled, as we always do on Wednesdays in the summer. When I walked in, Dan and Preacher Dave were sitting at the bar, eating dinner and having a beer. There was a strange face next to Dave and he introduced him as his buddy, Corey.
Dave informed me that I was bowling against Royal. He said it to me all pumped-up like, “YOU’RE bowling ROYAL tonight! You’re gonna kick his *ss!”
For a moment, I played into his enthusiasm, “Royal? YEAH! I can take him!”
And then I remembered about Royal. Nice guy. BUT… Royal bowled an almost perfect game a few weeks ago. It was around the third game of the night and the bowling alley had become uncharacteristically quiet. Preacher Dave nudged me and pointed at the scoreboard above Royal. There I saw, much to my amazement, that Royal was in the ninth frame and had bowled nothing but strikes to that point. The pressure got to him in the ninth and he blew it, but STILL, how amazing! I’ve never bowled like that. Yet.
So, now it has dawned on me that I am bowling Royal. And I’m wondering why. I bowl first on our team. Typically, the worst bowler is the first bowler. (So WHY isn’t Dan in first position? I’ll have to ask Dave about this strategy. Anyway…) If the first bowler is the worst bowler, then why was Royal bowling first? And what did that say about the rest of his team? I soon found out.
Warm-ups began and I recognized Tim, a rather obnoxious man but a decent bowler, none-the-less. The other guy on the team, (and when I say “guy”, I really mean “boy”) was a young guy who needed to learn that you don’t wear a striped polo shirt with patterned shorts. (Hey. I’m a woman. Fashion is a concern, even on the lanes.)
“Tommy” was his name. (When you say it, crinkle up your nose and say it in a very nasal voice. Just because. I said so.) Tommy had a very slight build with skinny legs and knobby knees, and while I was inwardly brushing off this geeky kid, he threw the most perfect ball I had ever seen. Dan and I glanced at each other with raised eyebrows. What’s this? The kid is gonna be a threat?
“Look who you’re bowling,” I teased Dan.
Dan shrugged. “I can take him. I feel a good night coming on.”
And the games began. I faced off against Royal, Dan against Tommy, and Preacher Dave against Tim. I held my own in the first game. Royal and I were neck-and-neck around the eighth frame, but then I left an open frame and he threw a strike. It wasn’t bad though. He didn’t beat me by much! Dan got schooled by Tommy, but Dave beat Tim by ONE point!
Things started falling apart for me in game two. By the end of that game, I had bowled better than my first game, but so did Royal. Dan got schooled by Tommy, and the Rev once again just BARELY beat Tim.
Game three is when we began to lose hope. Royal had really dialed it in and Tommy was bowling out of his mind. Tim was talking about Tommy as if he were some prodigy he had discovered on the side of the road and was helping him make a name for himself in the world of bowling.
“I don’t think he could even shave yet,” Tim was saying. “I KNOW he wasn’t legal to drink, but he had the most beautiful throw I’d ever seen! I snapped him up and put him on my tournament team!”
I had been chatting with Dan and Corey, learning about Corey’s job as a high school teacher in the alternative learning system when I heard Tim yammering on about Tommy. Shortly afterwards, Tommy wandered back by us and Dan asked him, “So do you normally bowl on lanes like these?”
What followed was the most arrogant response I had ever heard to a very polite and conversational question.
“Lanes like these,” Tommy scoffed? “No. I normally bowl on lanes ten times harder than these. Sorry, but this is like a walk in the park to me.”
I’m sure we were looking at him in surprise, unsure of how to take his condescending answer.
“You’ve heard of Wichita State University, right,” he asked us?
“Uh, yeah, sure, I guess,” Dan and I responded.
“They have the best bowling team in the country?” Tommy asked this question as if we were clueless and uneducated. I didn’t like his attitude.
“Really,” I asked? “I didn’t even know colleges had competitive bowling teams.”
Tommy didn’t pick up on my sarcasm and took my response as encouragement.
“Oh yeah. There’s (some other school) and (some other school.. I can’t remember what he said) but Wichita State has the number one team. I got a bowling scholarship. You guys bowl on these lanes and at best, the oil pattern goes, what? Maybe halfway down the lane? Yeah. The lanes I bowl on have oil patterns sometimes all the way down to the PINS! Yeah. Try bowling on THAT sometime. Most people couldn’t do it.”
I think Dan and I responded like, “Wow. Oh yeah. Hmmm. That’s amazing.”
And when Tommy walked away, we gossiped like a couple of little girls. “Thinks he’s so hot. What an arrogant little snit. What the heck’s he doing bowling here if he’s such a hot-shot?”
Corey was laughing along with us and we all made ourselves feel better by telling each other that as much as we loved bowling, WE did it for the fun and enjoyment. Winning is great, but it’s more important to have fun.
But I was still annoyed by Tommy’s attitude. When my next turn came up, so did Tommy’s. We approached the ball return together and he bowled first. LO AND BEHOLD! The bowling prodigy left THREE pins standing! It was my turn next. WHAT’S THIS? A STRIKE! I smiled at him, while inside my head I was saying, “Take THAT, you little dork!”
Tommy bowled his second ball and left an open frame. I tried not to gloat too obviously while Tommy made excuses for such a poor performance after bragging himself up.
The third game continued and we watched Tommy out of the corner of our eyes while we continued to do what we do best… drink beer, taunt each other, and have fun. I bowled my best game that game… a 166, I think, but Royal was on a roll and bowled over 200. Dan got schooled, and Dave just barely beat Tim.
By game four, our opponents were on fire. Tommy was now predicting outcomes on the scores, and explaining to anyone who would listen that his predictions would prove accurate because, “I’m an engineer, you know.” Dan pointed out the emblem on Preacher Dave’s shirt, one of the many he wears, proudly displaying the name of the company he owns and runs… an architectural engineering firm. “Tommy, guess what Dave does for a living,” Dan taunted.
Tommy looked at Dave’s shirt and turned sheepish. “Oh. Yeah. Hey. Well… I’m an engineering student, but I’m going to be an engineer when I graduate.”
I sipped my beer and rolled my eyes, while Corey whispered, “I think he might have a bit of Aspberger’s Syndrome.”
“Oh, sure,” I responded. “Take the high road. Give him a reason for being so annoying. I was just ready to think he’s a little snot.”
“Oh, I’m sure that’s part of it too,” Corey laughed.
Game four ended. I bowled my worst game yet and Royal kicked my *ss. Dan got schooled by Tommy, and Tim finally beat Preacher Dave. Tommy hurried off, complaining that he couldn’t believe it took us so long to bowl. He had somewhere to BE! I wanted to ask him why he was in such a hurry. If there were girls where he was going, he wouldn’t get one.
The magnitude of that thought hit me like a ton of bricks! What a horrible thing for me to think about a kid who was no older than my oldest son. What if he WERE my kid? (Well, then I’d probably teach him a thing or two and tell him to quit being such a brat!) I couldn’t believe I’d let this kid get to me like that!
I watched him walk away, realizing he was just a kid trying to look big among a bunch of adults and laughed him off. I hope he had fun, and I hope some girl gives him a chance someday, though I still think he’s going to have to work hard to make that happen.
As for me, I bowled. And I had fun. And that is what it’s all about.
(Oh yeah… almost forgot… Dan sent me a FaceBook message with a link to the Wichita State bowling team. And Tommy? He is NOT on it!)
What? I’m not gloating!