15 Jul

I know I mentioned how I was a professional wrestler before, but I also used to be a pretty good legitimate athlete. I wrestled all four years of high school, and placed fourth in the district my senior year, making it to regionals. I’ve won a few medals in tournaments for wrestling as well as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The point of mentioning this is to say I am no stranger to sports and winning at them.

However, skill in bowling has always eluded me.

Bowling is frustrating because it seems pretty simple on the surface: roll ball down path, knock pins down. However, you get to the alley and they decide to fuck up your day by making the path this super-smooth wooden runway lubricated with what must be some kind of sentient flubber-like trickster substance, because no matter how straight-forward I felt I rolled the ball, it somehow skids out of control into the gutters while the pins stand as silent and undisturbed as the mo’ai of Easter Island.

Ever since I was young I was kind of a hothead, so the hidden complexities of the game were quick to frustrate me, often ruining what could have been a fun family outing with one of my temper tantrums. I am historically bad at dealing with anything I am not good at. If you don’t hand me a medal on a platter just for breathing, I will shit my pants crying. Somehow, after every time this happened, I somehow got flashed by a Men In Black neuralizer because the next time somebody brought it up, my response would be “bowling? That should definitely be fun!”

Throw. Gutter. Tantrum. Fun ruined. For everyone.

It was kind of worse whenever I bowled with my mom, because she grew up in Central Florida in the 60’s and 70’s. Now, for those of you who have never been to Central Florida, the cultural WASTELAND that exists between Miami and Disney World, I will let you know this: Going to her hometown in the 1990s, the most exciting thing to do there was go to Wal Mart. So imagine BEFORE all the wonderful technological advances of the intervening twenty years, how it must have been.

Needless to say, she bowled a lot, probably because it was the only way to keep herself from crying tears of blood from boredom. She bowled enough to have her own shoes and her own ball.

For some reason, whenever I think of that, I also think of how she told me her local bar would have a live music night and there would be a guy who played the spoons. As in that was his THING. He had his own special pair of spoons taped together, and that is what he played.

So yeah, my mom was a lot better than me at bowling.

However, more recently, now that I have become a slightly less whiny shitbaby about not being good at things, I’ve bowled a couple of times and calmed down enough to actually become NOT terrible. I actually can hit something most frames of the game.

I am currently visiting my girlfriend in Niskayuna, New York. If you don’t know where that is, don’t worry, nobody does. Not even the people who live there. They just leave work in the evening and drive around aimlessly before they reach a house and say “fuck, people LIVE here? I guess I might as well give up, too,” and they just sleep there for the night until they have to go back to work.

So because of the surrounding environment, naturally, we went bowling, just the two of us, 210-pound former athlete me and 98-pound never-played-a-sport-in-her-life her. We played four games, and we tied 2-2, and in those two I won, I narrowly beat her. Very narrowly. I still had a wonderful time, since I was so entertained by the way she beat me.

I was there trying really hard to do well, paying attention to things like the direction of my swing and my follow-through, which dots I was aiming for, etc. My girlfriend, on the other hand, just grabbed the ball, threw it forward, then turned away as soon as she released, not even caring to see if it hit anything. She just threw it and left it to the four winds to determine its fate.

She was scoring as much as me. She was essentially leaving it to random chance, and she was playing just as well as me, who would actually wave my hand over that jet of air and take a few seconds before throwing by taking deep breaths and practice swings, like I was on god-damned ESPN 2 bowling for the Brunswick championship.

It’s not like she would just hit A SINGLE pin or something like that, no, she would get full on strikes and do it with this amazing style. No aiming, no premeditation, just index finger, middle finger, and thumb in the holes, walk a few steps, PLUNK, and then she’d turn around and walk back to me as the ball knocked down all ten pins.

You know that action movie cliche where the guy walks away from the warehouse and puts on his sunglasses while it explodes, not looking back? That was her. If the pins being knocked down was an explosion, she was fucking Jason Statham walking away nonchalantly with no second glance. My tiny girlfriend turned our bowling game into Crank 3: Spare Time. I almost expected her to crack some kind of pithy one-liner after every strike, for example:

“You should get your mind out of the gutter… and your ball.”


“Let’s make like the 7 and 10… and split.”

“Spare Time” was actually the name of the bowling alley we went to, by the way, but it’s a bad enough pun that it could be an action movie title.

Despite my general open-mindedness about gender roles and equality and stuff, part of my mind is still going to struggle with my waif of a girlfriend being better than me at sports.


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