When I was five, we moved into a house on the brow of the hill at the far limits of the edge of Calgary. Now that spot would be called inner city. In a house across the road was another five year old, Adrene Paul. Her dad ran a bowling alley. When we got older, we were allowed to go there, on days when there wasn’t much business. Adrene could bring two friends. One of us would set pins while the other two bowled, and then we would switch around, everyone getting a chance to play a few games ... and getting a chance to be a pin setter. Adrene went on to become a champion bowler. I gave up bowling, but I am back at it now.
Duncan and I have been going bowling – three times last week. I didn’t want to count the number of years it has been since I was in a bowling alley. The smooth round black balls are gone and in their place are bowling balls of different weights and colours – all of which can be held by the three holes that help secure the ball to one’s hand.
The chance to go to the back and set pins is gone as well.
I didn’t get the shoe size right the first time. Nor the second time. After a few frames, I went to ask for a short lesson on how to hold the ball. My thumb knuckle has increased in size, making it impossible for me to get my thumb into the hole of the x-small ball. While the knuckle has been widening, my arm strength has been decreasing, so I don’t have the strength to hold an x-large ball, I was to find out. I finally got the ball in my hands the right way, but on my swing backwards, its weight was too much for me and it escaped to roll backwards to where Duncan was sitting. I was hoping I could retrieve the ball without anyone seeing, but his head was already sunk deep between his knees. Still he chattered and cheered me on through the rest of the frames, sometimes throwing the ball for me, if he thought I was weakening.
The electronic score board is fantastic. Duncan wanted to be called Nacho Cheese, up there. That was fine. I also took it as a hint as to what he would like for supper.
Perhaps I will see if Zoe wants to go bowling sometime this summer, now that I have the knack for the game again. When I have accompanied her only to watch her, I notice that there is a place on the screen that tells how fast the ball is going down the alley. The electronics wasn’t quite that sophisticated yesterday, but if Duncan or I got a strike, we did get the short 3 second video celebrating our achievements. His score was 97 and mine was 86 – and that is with the side barriers up so that no balls went in the gutter. It is redundant to say that both of us could use some improvement.