Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2004

Opinion: I don’t roll when it’s warm

December 23, 2004

It was a cold, overcast Friday afternoon when my buddy Jeremy and I strolled into an area bowling alley with downtrodden spirits and our heads hung low. And we had none other than old man winter to blame for it.

There are a couple of things you should know right away. First, golfers like Jeremy and I -- mindless addicts with too much free time -- are basically on suicide watch each winter, because cold temperatures keep us from hitting the links. Second, we've been friends since we could walk, which essentially means there isn't anything we wouldn't do to beat each other.

You could call it a friendly rivalry, but I've got scars (and hopefully given some) that in some ways prove otherwise.

Anyway, it was that decrepit, blow hard winter that kept us from playing golf, and the stench of depression clinging to us on this day was as thick as the cloud of cigarette smoke protruding from the bowling alley arcade room. Inside the game room, a gang of 30-somethings were indulging in a few pre-happy hour cocktails.

Back to them later.

I'm not sure how we arrived at this place, an odd vortex of neon lights, Velcro shoes and wandering drunkards, but I'm quite certain we were ill prepared for what we found. I remember thinking, "I miss Falcon Lakes" and "Why couldn't it be just 20 degrees warmer?"

After forking over $12 for three games and rental shoes that looked as though someone under the heavy influence of hallucinogens designed them, Jeremy and I prepared for our games.

"What's the bet," he asked.

"A round at Falcon," I answered. "Let's roll," he said.

With lines drawn in the sand, we prepared for battle. We selected our weapons -- for him an 11-pound green sphere, and for me, a neon pink (that's all they had left) 12-pound wrecking ball that I intended to use as a tool to spell Jeremy's demise.

We lashed our Velcro straps together and waged war.

The first game was a warm up, which ended in a 139-139 draw. I wasn't pleased with my score and the bowler to my left -- a Yeti-sized creature with a belly that shook as though a pack of wild dingos were inside wrestling over a Christmas ham -- didn't have any words of encouragement.

Sadly and despite multiple windows of opportunity for victory, I lost the following game. In the 10th frame of the third and final game, I needed to pick up a spare and knock down seven pins on my final toss for victory.

I picked up the spare (if you can't play under pressure, you can't play) and was fully confident I would knock down at least the seven pins I needed to win on my last roll. As I began my motion with nothing but images of victory parading in my mind, a blood-curdling yelp came from the arcade room and distracted me mid-roll.

I watched sadly as my menacing pink ball limped its way to the gutter.

"What the heck was that?" I asked.

"Some lady bolted out of the game room," Jeremy said. "She was laughing and running with a beer."

Was it fate that played this cruel trick? Is there no honor in bowling? Who was that deranged woman and why do people keep feeding her alcohol?

As Jeremy and I walked out of the alley, I relayed my lesson learned for the day.

"What did you think?" he said.

"A couple of things," I replied. "I definitely need to live in a warmer state, and next time I go bowling, I'm playing on a lane far away from the game room."

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