Over the past Summer I've learned that bowlers are a funny lot. You see, as it turns out, most who bowl in leagues (even on a casual basis) are quite devoted to the game; yet so many can often be heard uttering profanity and exclamations against it. "There's too much oil on this lane," "My ball took too long to return," "The ball slipped..." and, of course, by game 3, "I don't even know why I play this game!" See, there are 3 groups of bowlers, the Professionals (who bowl for money and titles solely), the recreational professionals (who bowl in leagues based on handicaps and sportsmanship), and those who bowl once every so years at a family function. For the majority of my life I was happily part of the latter, smaller, category. I'd bowl with friends socially but, like mini-golf, I wasn't about to sign up to do it weekly on a competitive basis. In fact, it would be quite fair to say I cared quite little about the sport.
I cared so little, that the past 2 years of my father's birthday I sat on the sidelines for 5+ hour marathons, in support (but defiantly not bowling). Knowing this, you can also surmise that my father falls into one of the two previous categories. Like so many on his casual/competitive bowling league, he genuinely loves to bowl. This is a habit my husband has now taken on himself, but I digress. My pop would bowl from open to close if work, money, and, well, life permitted. It's traits I admire, and a genuine love for the game, that had lead to him joining a league last year. As it turns out it is incredibly easy to become a USBC bowler (yearly dues average $20), and for $15-$20 a week, on just about any day and time slot, you can likely find a local chapter looking for people like you and I to bowl a few good-natured competitive games.
It's so easy, in fact, that I (the bowling Ebenezer), signed up for the 3 month summer league this year. That's right, every Wednesday for the past few months I have reluctantly joined forces with complete strangers for the purpose of embarrassing myself. Okay, I was there to be social and experience new things- but there was embarrassment. (Just try throwing a ball backwards in a crowded alley and not turning 5 shades of red!) I used to think I was nothing like my fellow bowlers, who likely looked forward to each week and another chance to bowl. They seemed to take their scores, and averages, seriously; while I was the girl who would literally cheer upon my 5th gutter ball of the night (after all, what else was there to do?) These people, my teammates, would get so wrapped up in their own scores and goals that I instinctively began focusing on my own. Before long I had my own ball, and was tracking my progress (or digression in most cases). And, when time came to form teams for Winter, I was asking around for teammates....but I still prefer to be known as the 'non bowling bowler'.
Perhaps, my favorite aspect of league is the local where we actually bowl. Looking at it today, the 1947 originating Wagon Wheel center is a shambles of what it once was. The city, in fact, tore down the attached Restaurant and Motel years ago, after it sat, vacant and condemned for just as many. And I often joke our bowling alley is so out dated we have to use paper score sheets, and have pins manually reset (though it's not that bad, it's certainly vintage!) Over the past few years the ownership has changed, and renovations have slowly filtered through the alley, which remains quite functional. However, the Wagon Wheel is not what it was when my family moved to the town near 10 years ago, nor nearly as elegant as the neon lights and retro 50's vibe the vacation center was built with. I drive past demolition piles and, overgrown, fenced lots to what remains of the majestic Wagon Wheel and often imagine what it would have been like all those years ago. The sounds of children piling out of a Cadillac to run, screaming, towards the kidney shaped pool, or buses blaring The King as they pulled into the diner for a rest stop. Wagon Wheel is as much a part of classic Americana as Wednesday night bowling, and for that, I salute you. Do you have a social hobby or sport you like to do regularly?
Note: This post was not compensated in any way. It is simply a piece of good, old fashioned, blogging. Enjoy! P.S. I love you dad- this year you'll get your 600 series!