Thursday, May 14, 2009

Miami Livin': Bowling Edition

Last night I headed up to Hollywood, FL (named after the *real* Hollywood in California) with a few friends and a couple handfuls of friends and co-workers of one of those friends to do some bowling. It was actually my first bowling outing in Florida since the family was down here back in ought-seven and we went bowling on South Beach, which is too bad, since I really like to bowl, somehow. I tend to assign it to a Pittsburgh heritage thing, since the 'Burgh has got its fair share of alleys. The family went bowling over the Winter holiday, to generally good effect; we tend to go bowling, either as a nuclear or a extended family around the Winter festivals--I bowled pretty well then (not "good" but not "bad" either).

At some point, a while back, down here, trying to drum up some interest in bowling-going amongst my fellow MFAers, I let drop the fact that I have own my own bowling ball, which immediately garnered me with some reputation of being, like, a pretty good bowler (and back in high school, when I used said bowling ball with the most frequency that I ever did--there was a summer where I went bowling with our Grandfather pretty much weekly, and I was consistently in the 150s, 160s, which is quite respectable, I think; certainly not Mikey-caliber scores (but then again, I don't have any ganglion cysts in my wrist either), but pretty good). So, of course, leading up to the bowling outing last night, there was some expectation that I would kick everyones ass. Unfortunately, as per typical, I bowled rather poorly.

Actually, I bowled almost as bad as I did during an ill-fated handful of games that I bowled once upon a time in New Haven, in a bowling outing Jack and I both agreed to never speak of again (in fact, this bowling that I'm speaking of--it doesn't really exist, this is hearsay, legend, myth), which marked the worst bowling I'd done since the quasi-legendary time I went bowling back in college, in the evening after gorging myself at an Indian buffet for lunch, when I bowled something like a 54 because there was more food in me than my stomach and esophagus could hold let alone digest (I later threw up much of that binge-meal on Forbes Avenue, right at Murray Ave, having had to leave the post-bowling bar because I was too full to drink beer and was feeling quite lousy... hmm... maybe that last bit is too gross to have just admitted to on the blog?). Indian buffets will do that to you, though, if you're not careful (though I've never had a repeat of that sort of eating catastrophe, I still tend to wind up with more food on my second plate than I can ever eat, which is consistently embarrassing (as opposed to throwing up at/on a major intersection, which is awesome and a great story)).

At any rate, I bowled badly, and was embarrassed. Especially because two-thirds of the group were people I'd only just met, or only met in passing once or twice before. And all of them were astounded/horrified by the ridiculous velocity at which I throw/roll a bowling ball, and the terrible crash it makes when it mercilessly crushes the pins. When the Pete method of bowling works, it's pretty great, because strikes are about the best things ever since the pins disintegrate from their places with alarming speed and sound. But, man, when I have an off night, it's pretty ugly, especially since an army of young people seemed more horrified ("A lot of anger and stress in that throw?" "You don't have to kill the pins." "When he hits the head-pin, its all over, but..." etc.) and less impressed than the average collection of blood relatives, in terms of said caveman bowling power. And of course, I can't really bowl with finesse anymore, and when I buckled a bit under self-applied pressure to be less ridiculous, and tried to not throw the ball as hard as possible, I did even worse. Recovered in the third game, barely, and had the high score on my screen, but other than that, little to no evidence that I was ever a respectable, however cavemaniacal, bowler. "I'm usually much better. I swear."

The only slight ameliorative was some successful coaching of a friend who had only bowled a few times in his life. Basic pointers, like don't throw across your body, throw the ball out onto the lane, hold the ball like such, etc, but did it without nagging and he actually considerably improved (actually beat me one game (that's how bad I did, ugh).

As for analyzing what went wrong, other than an appeal to the same kind of anxiety which plagued me as a musician, cracking under the pressure of trying to impress strangers, I'd say that the lack of 16 pounds balls didn't help, since part of me doing better as a set of games progresses is eventually my arm and wrist getting slightly tired so that I can't throw the ball as stupidly hard, even when I want to; with a 14 point ball I had too much stamina. Hence the better score in the third game.

At the very least, despite the fact that it will be the middle of summer, when we're back in Pittsburgh, we're going bowling, guys. Gotta get my bowl-mo-jo back.


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