M. Giant's
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Monday, April 15, 2002  

I learned an invaluable lesson last night, and I'm going to share it with you all:

Bowling is a lot more fun when you own your own ball.

When I was a kid, I didn't get why people would spend money on a bowling ball when they could just grab one off the rack at the bowling alley for free. I figured it was some kind of prima donna thing: "Hey, get me, I've got my own ball. I'm a serious bowler."

Then about a year or so ago, Trash and I started going bowling semi-regularly on Sunday nights, and I found the perfect ball. Not only was it the right weight, but the holes fit my fingers, which is rare. Most balls have holes that are either too far apart or too small for me, so I'm usually forced to spend the evening handling my ball like a mittened arthritic, throwing gutterball after gutterball. But with this ball, I could hold it comfortably and happily as I threw gutterball after gutterball.

The problem was that someone frequently got to it before I did, so I'd get stuck rolling a 35-pound ball down the alley with both hands while some other bastard racked up strikes with my ball. And I had to watch it happening, because my ball glowed like green kryptonite under the black lights and I could see it gliding smoothly down the boards from ten lanes away.

It became my mission to own that ball. Theoretically, I knew it was possible because my friend Dirt had once bowled over 200 and the alley let him keep the ball he used. "I can do that," I said to myself. "As long as I get there early enough to bowl six games, I can get 200 easy." Then someone explained that Dirt had bowled 200 in one game, and I wasn't so sure.

I didn't give up, though. I worked on my game, trying to work my way up to 200. For a while it was in sight; one night I bowled 191, my best game ever. That ball was practically mine.

Then for some reason my curve disappeared and my game turned to shit.

My average plummeted as I tried to adjust to this inexplicable development, and I began to doubt whether I'd ever fight my way back north of 130 again. I bowled game after game, each time holding out hope that this would be the game that would win me permanent possession of my ball, each time losing hope by the third frame. And bowling seven pointless frames per game can become a soul-deadening proposition. I became surly and disinterested during games. Between games, I picked fights in the parking lot and had immoral liasons for drug money in the men's room.

But then everything changed. Dirt, the man who had given me hope in the first place that I would one day own my own ball, gave me something even better: the ball itself. Trash and I were helping him and Banana move into their new house, and he offered me one of his bowling balls. It's a couple of pounds heavier than "my ball" at the alley, but that was fine since my arm had gotten, if not more accurate, at least stronger from all of the futile ball-hurling I'd been doing. Even better, it fit my hand perfectly. Better still, it was mine. Best of all, it was free.

Last night was the first chance I had to use it, since Trash won't let me practice in the basement using wineglasses as pins. And you know what? Bowling is fun again!

The only thing is I don't have a bag so I had to carry the ball in and out of the place totally naked. Which made me a little paranoid that someone would think I was trying to steal one of the alley's balls at the end of the night. Because in my head, anyone can walk out of a bowling alley with a ball as long as it's in a bag, but a bagless ball like mine is suspicious somehow. Or so I thought, but nobody even looked at me funny. Which made me realize I probably could have stolen "my ball" all along. Except then I'd have to bring it back to use it, which would put me in the position of basically having to steal it again every week, so that wouldn't have been any good either.

In any case, last night was a totally different experience, bowling-wise. I could just relax and enjoy it, and not care that my scores weren't very good. The high point of the evening was when everyone I was bowling with ended up with a final score of 107. There was no pressure, no lofty goal, just fun. I don't mind any more that I'll probably die before I bowl 191 again. And it was all because I finally got a ball of my own.

Or maybe it was all the beer I drank.

posted by M. Giant 11:16 AM 0 comments


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