Friday, January 22, 2010

a bit about bowling

A new, fancy, modern bowling alley opened up near us recently and suddenly bowling, which previously wasn't an activity I generally had on my radar screen, was becoming a frequent topic of conversation with friends around town and friends around the school. The girls' cousins, Jake and Brayden, have been bowling several times at this new alley and one weekend afternoon last summer they asked us join them.

This was the twins first time bowling, but Erin had been to a bowling birthday party a couple of years before this new place opened. The new bowling alley is pretty cool indeed. It's always got black light inside, loud music, lights along the lanes and the bumpers, giant TV's all along the back wall, a sleek cartoon video game-ish type automatic scoring system, and colorful, glowing bowling balls. Of course the coolest thing remains the funky shoes.

Smaller kids can use ramps for the balls instead of throwing them. Kate and Allison used these a lot this first time out.

Erin usually tried throwing but was never as good as striking a pose after releasing as her cousin Jake was.

A month or so after their first bowling outing, Erin's girl scout troop went bowling together one day after school. Erin had become pretty confident at throwing the ball, and pretty fiercely serious about it.

She also carefully watched her score after each turn and her rank among the other girls playing in her lane.

Kate and Allison and I bowled on our own lane near the girl scouts. Over these first two bowling outings, Allison was having trouble deciding whether she was a ramp bowler,

or a thrower, or a roller.

And she usually doesn't finish any game. After 7 or 8 frames she'd report being too tired to go on and Kate or I finished her frames for her. Kate really enjoyed playing and frequently celebrated whether her ball hit 1 pin or 10. Gutter balls don't happen for them because they always play with the bumpers up, so the game becomes a sort of bowling/pinball amalgam.

On sunday after Thanksgiving, three of our five house guests departed for home in the morning but Terri and our oldest nephew, Andrew, had afternoon flights. And guess what family activity we found to occupy a few hours.

There are a few things I've learned about bowling over these past many months. First off, it's like impossible to get any good photos. The ones in this post are the best of the best of dozens that I took, while experimenting with all kinds of settings on my camera. I think the neighboring bowlers really enjoyed my camera flash going on all the time too. But in the end, it's an action shot in low light and your subject is facing always away from you. Second, despite my having bowled easily several dozen times in my life, I suck at it. There aren't too many things that I've tried as often yet continued to appear as if I've never done them before. Bowling is definitely on that short list, which also includes ice skating. And just like ice skating but generally uncharacteristically, I don't care that I suck. Third, bowling is REALLY expensive and I'm not sure when this phenomenon occurred. It wasn't an expensive activity when I was a kid. My friends and I walked the two miles to our local alley several times each summer and enjoyed a few hours of bowling and air conditioning. And it wasn't expensive in college either. But now it costs about $125 for the five of us to rent shoes and bowl two games.

"That's nothing compared to what it must cost for the five of you to go skiing," a friend at work commented as I was relaying this story today. Sure, good point, except that we're talking about spending a lot of money on a silly, frivolous non-sport with no worthy objective. Skiing is important. Skiing is all day, skiing is in a beautiful setting, skiing is....SKIING. There just isn't any comparison. They aren't in the same universe. Duh. Someone's priorities are waaaay out of whack.

On a rainy weekend day last week we decided to bowl again with the cousins and because of the cost John suggested we go to the older, simpler alley in our area instead of the new fancy one. "It's kind down," I warned him. "It's supposed to be, it's a BOWLING ALLEY," he countered. I agreed that at least it must be cheaper. They didn't have lighted lanes, lighted bumpers, a scoring system that was very fancy, a bunch of TV's, or even a pin setter that would consistently set up 10 pins (at once). But the cost was the same as the other place.

In the end though, it's something close and fun that we suck at together, and it never fails to make Kate the Contrarian this happy:


MommaWriter said...

Seriously? It costs just as much over there too? I think I'll stick with our bowling alley over here (which is run down compared to your run down alley) where the kids bowled all summer for free...and us parents bowled 4 or 5 times for a whole $20 extra. O.K., so the scoring mechanism hardly even works, but at least we're doing something! : )

Trish said...

Skiing is ... Important!!! :-). ;-). Ha!

One if the highlights of my day is this blog!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Anonymous said...

This entry brought back memories. I was one of the friends that walked the two miles down to the bowling alley. What were our parents thinking? We have one of these new fangled bowling alley here too. Glow in the dark bowling is a blast!