At 2:00, the girl at the counter said: "It's $12 per person per hour or you can all bowl for $5 until 6:00, but you don't have to bowl the whole time."
Our five dollars was not being used to pay for the most up to date equipment. The roundest ball I could find had been attacked by an angry bowler with an icepick. I believe the bowling balls were a ploy by the owners to encourage new bowling ball purchases in their curiously named "Pro Shop." I admit the glow in the dark skull ball was tempting.
The computerized scorekeeper dealt in estimates rather than exact numbers. The ball return never returned Graham's first ball-perhaps thunderball chose to team up with some other bowler. The shoes were, however, as are all bowling shoes, fantastic. Only the most stylish footwear has both men's and women's sizes printed on the heel.
The atmosphere was inspiring-multiple NASCAR schedules on the wall, "Snakes on a Lane" T-shirts, and seven-year-olds bowling with the bumpers that eliminate gutter balls.
To our left was a family who also bowls once a year, but to our right were serious bowlers ("Alley Gators") in serious bowling shirts who brought their own bowling balls in special zippered bags, polished shoes, polishing cloth, talcum powder, and beer.
The members of my family are at about the same skill level. Carol does a cute little hop on her left foot as she knocks down one pin at a time. Caleb started with a slight case of ebowla-you couldn't hear a pin drop. When he finally nailed one I wanted to shout, "I can't believe it's not gutter!" Whenever Graham did well he enjoyed saying, "That's how I roll."
Bowling is a great sport for talking to yourself: "Keep your mind out of the gutter." "I am Don Carter" (the only bowler I can name). "You don't have another frame to spare." "Let the pins fall where they may." "Call me butter cause I'm on a roll."
For a while we took it seriously but by the end we were rolling the ball between our legs. I won, but do not want anyone to make a big deal of it. What happens at the bowling alley stays at the bowling alley.
We ended up having a strikingly good time with the pin pushers. Bowling is right up our alley. What's not to love about a sport in which you are expected to eat nachos and pickle sickles during the game?
Artifacts for a game similar to bowling were found in the tomb of an Egyptian youth who died approximately 5200 BCE. Ancient Polynesians rolled stones at objects from a distance of sixty feet- the same distance as from foul line to headpin. During the third and fourth centuries, bowling was a religious ceremony. German parishioners had to roll an object at a pin or kegel (from which we get the word kegler for bowler) to avoid performing an act of penance.
The sport of kings (which most people think is horse racing, but it ought to be bowling) has a bad reputation. "Gutter" sounds lowbrow and "strike" seems violent, but I am growing in my appreciation for this sport that does not penalize the overweight.
Bowling has a simple elegance. The pins are up. Then the pins are down. You know exactly how you did. Bowling is honest.
Could it be a coincidence that most of us have never heard of a church golf league, a church hockey club, or a church gymnastics association, but there are lots of church bowling leagues? Church bowling teams have great names-"Holy Rollers," "Lord of the Pins," "Pin Pals," "Tenpin Commandments," and "Let There be Strikes."
A life size diorama at The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame portrays Martin Luther bowling on the single lane at the side of his home. Luther, an avid bowler according to the curator, "once preached a sermon which, if put into bowling vernacular, proclaimed we all strive for perfection in life. But if we roll a gutterball, all is not lost."
Bowling is not going to replace prayer or fasting as a spiritual discipline, but every now and then we should join the gutter fingers, pin heads, and rolling pins. We try so hard to get so much done that we forget to have fun. We should bowl-maybe even more than once a year.