How I Embarrassed Myself at the Bowling Alley and Still Managed to Have Fun

So last night was bowling night, right? Which means I was in a pretty good mood because we all know how much I love bowling. This summer league that I’m in is a challenging league because we are bowling on oil patterns that change every single week. (It’s the Team USA Experience league, if you really want to know.) There’s no getting familiar with a particular oil pattern because next week there will be a different one.

Side note for those who are less bowling-enthused than I am. A bowling lane always has a layer of oil on it. In a normal bowling league, or when you’re just bowling for fun, you bowl on a “house shot.” With a house shot, the oil is always applied the same way. In my summer league, we are bowling on a “sport shot” which means that there’s not a standard pattern. The oil is applied in varying patterns. To make things even more challenging, the patterns grow longer every week ranging from 33 feet to 47 feet. The longer the oil pattern, the less likely your ball is to go where you would normally expect it to go. So you have to figure out how to compensate for the oil by changing lines or using different wrist positions.

… or something like that.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah… So I’m not a spectacular bowler on a good night on the house shot, much less on a sport shot. But that’s not the point. We all know by now that I do this because I just love the game. I arrived last night early enough to bowl a warm up game and found that for whatever reason, I was doing pretty well on the new oil pattern. I was way excited to get the official games underway. So when we were given the go-ahead to start bowling, I was one of the first, if not the first person to approach my lane and start throwing.

I lined myself up, balanced my ball, and began my approach.

Another piece of information any non-bowling geeks will need to know is that the shoes you wear for bowling have sliding pads on the bottom of them. As you approach the lane and start throwing your ball, you should slide forward slightly on your front foot while releasing your ball. That is, of course, you should slide forward unless something happens to prevent your foot from sliding. Something like stepping in some spilled droplets of water will stop you from sliding. And I mean, your foot will come to a dead halt. Which isn’t good when you’re trying to put some momentum behind a fourteen pound bowling ball.

How do I know this? I know this because I learned something new about bowling last night. I learned that when you step in the droplets of water, which fell from Dave’s tall beer (Substitute Dave, not Preacher Dave who was unable to join us last night due to having to coach his daughter’s soccer team) and then you do your normal thing and try to slide your foot forward as you’re releasing your fourteen pound ball, not only does your ball fly into the lane, but so will you!

So there I was, sprawled on all fours in the middle of my lane. I could feel the oil on my hands (ick!) but more importantly, I could feel my face turning scarlet. I crawled/turned my body around so that I was facing away from the lane. I sat on my knees trying desperately not to see how many people might be gawking at me. I looked up at Substitute Dave from my position on the floor and asked, “How did I do?”

“Pretty good,” he said. “Turn around and look!”

So I did. A strike! Not only had I thrown my own body down the lane, but I’d managed to bowl a strike while doing so. Not that it mattered because throwing yourself into the lane is called a “foul” and that means your throw didn’t count.

Fudge. Only I didn’t say “fudge.” I said the F blank blank blank word. Preacher Dave really wanted our team name this year to be “Eff” in honor of the frequent spewing of that word and/or any of it’s derivatives, but that’s a story for another day.

Oh, well. It wasn’t the most promising start to an evening of bowling competition, but I picked myself up, sanded and powdered the bottom of my shoe to make sure that I wouldn’t be spending any more time on all fours in the lane. Dan found a bar rag and a dry cloth and cleaned up the floor in our area. I found some napkins to place under Substitute Dave’s drippy beer glass and it was back to business as usual.

Did I mention Dee? Dee is the woman who was bowling on the opposing team and had, interestingly enough, discovered a single drop of water near our table prior to my first throw and cautioned us all to steer clear. Dee had graciously wiped up the water with a napkin. Little did any of us know that I had mopped up the rest of the water with my foot.

You had no idea that a few drops of water could be so dangerous, did you? I took a little crap from some of the other bowlers who had seen my little escapade, but it was all just good natured ribbing.

Anyway, that humiliating start to the evening had no impact on the rest of the night. I bowled like a rock star, if I do say so myself. (125, 168, 160 and 155 were my scores for the night!) And it was a blast bowling against Dee and her team. Dee is married to Tee and they are a very colorful duo. Dee and Tee are both very friendly… and loud… and Dee likes to stir up the competition. She kept telling Tee, who was bowling opposite me, “Terri’s kickin’ your butt,” or “Terri’s comin’ after ya!”

Tee would just respond, “You still owe me money, Dee. I don’t wanna hear it!” (Apparently they were betting against each other.) Then if Tee and I were approaching our lanes at the same time, he’d say, “I’m comin’ after ya, Terri. Look out!”

I love bowling with people who play to have fun too, not solely for the competition.

Dee cracked me up. She kept her blue tooth in her ear the whole time she was bowling. She told me about her gastric bypass surgery in 2008 when she was 270 pounds at five foot five and how she got down to a size four, but that was too small for her liking, so now she’s an eight. She blamed her bad throws on a gas bubble in her stomach. “Ah cain’t bowl,” she’d shout to all of us. “Ah gotta gas bubble in mah stomach!”

“Don’t let it out around me,” her partner, Tim shot back.

And Dee had a ball she calls “Michael Jordan.” Apparently Michael Jordan is Dee’s secret weapon. And she didn’t actually pronounce it “Michael” Jordan. It was more like, “Mahk – uhl Jordan.” She warned us, “I’m bringin’ out Mahk – uhl Jordan. Look out. Mahk – uhl Jordan gonna help me kick some ass!”

And he did. When Dee bowled with Michael Jordan, she kicked some ass. I turned to Dan and said, “I think my bowling balls need cool names too. What other famous bald guys can you think of?”

“Bruce Willis,” he suggested. “And Mr. Clean.”

So it was settled. My main ball is now Mr. Clean and my spare ball is Bruce Willis. We’re gonna kick some ass.

And I’m going to be extra careful of water on the floor in the future.

And I think I’m going to get Dee to be a sub for my winter league, ’cause she’s just damn fun.

I love bowling.