Wifey and I went bowling over the weekend. It's been some time since we did this; in fact, if memory serves, we went bowling a little over a year ago on our last US vacation. Oh, sure, we've been playing Wii sports since then, but that's hardly the same.
Or is it?
To start off, I was captivated by the single greatest bowling innovation I have ever seen: the shoe conveyor. They have about thirty trays, each of them holding 4 or 5 pairs of shoes, and as you watch the trays are continually rotating from bottom to top. When your size passes by, you simply take them off the tray and go your way.
It was awesome. I took four pairs just to fully enjoy it.
Once we were ready we headed to our lane, #5. To our left was a group of four 20ish students, and on the right a 40ish couple that liked to bowl a couple of frames between fondling one another at the scorer's table. You might say that first she stroked his balls, then she threw hers.
The students were an altogether different matter. One was a Guido (flipped-up collar and sweatband included), one a sweaty drunkard, one a full-on glasses-wearing math major, and the last a fugitive librarian catching a few moments away from the books. The librarian was the only female, and the males were desperately competing for her attentions by showing off their bowling prowess.
Little did they know that a heaping helping of American Emasculation was cruising towards them, like Jaws surfacing beneath a skinny dipping hippie.
Wifey and I selected our balls and I went first. I waited for Guido to finish his first throw, and then I took my shot.
WHAMMO! A strike for Plebian. Not a wobbly strike, either: pins flew everywhere, like a Tomahawk missile had hit the back of the lane.
The Guido simply stared at me, open-mouthed. And it was then that I perchanced to look upon their scores: seven frames gone by, and not a one of them over 60. Amongst their group, if you bowled 105 and didn't win it was because somebody had the game of their life and maybe got to 110.
Now, I don't like to brag, but I can bowl well. Oh, not wonderfully or anything, but anything less than 125 means I had a horrible game. When I'm in practice I get 160 to 175. My personal best is 195. This is mainly because I can do two things consistently: throw the ball straight and throw the ball hard.
I calmly walked back to our table, and Wifey said "You suck, you know that?"
Then it was her turn. Wifey is a competent bowler, usually able to do around 90 to 110 if she's in practice. Her first shot wasn't nearly as impressive as mine, mostly because she got distracted by the guy to our right doing a tonsil-and-panties check on his wife right at the end of their lane.
I figure he was congratulating her on her robust showing the previous frame, where she knocked over four of the ten pins. Don't laugh; she didn't even break 50 in the three games she bowled while we were there. She seemed to average about 30.
I jumped up, hurled the ball down the lane, and got another strike. And, once again, it looked like an explosion at the end of the alley.
The quartet to our left were awestruck. Not only had I gotten two strikes, I had gotten them in a row! The librarian dared to speak to me, and asked me if it was my first time.
"Not quite," I said. "I grew up bowling."
My next two shots? Both strikes. Yes, I opened the game with four strikes in a row. Wifey also put in a strike and a spare, so she had nothing to be embarrassed about. But I was on fire.
By the fifth shot, all motion ceased when I was preparing to bowl. While everyone else waited with baited breath, Wifey yelled out encouragement to me:
"You suck!" she said. "Choke! Choke! Choke!"
I hurled the ball, and immediately winced. Bad throw. "Shit!" my yell echoed throughout the silent alley.
WHAMMO! A fifth strike. Wifey laughed and gave me a big kiss, much to the disappointment of the women in the adjacent lanes. The dude to our right gave me the stinkeye, as his 62 now seemed almost as impressive as John Bobbit on a porno set. Sure, it has some shock value, but next to the real thing it's just pales.
In hushed tones, the math major noted that even my bad throws were better than their best. To his friends, he wondered from whence this awful specter came to ruin their chances to score with the frumpy librarian, who was now enraptured by my bowling acumen.
The answer is yes, I did blow your night on purpose. Vive l'America!
On throw six, my arm started aching. Hey, not only am I out of practice, I'm not as young as I used to be. I still wish I could tag out when I'm putting on my socks some mornings. So my aim fell off, and although the end of my game was not an embarrassment, it wasn't up to my standards.
Final score? 197. This is not that impressive on a US lane, but in these surroundings that made me PBA-eligible. Consider this: take the two highest scores from Guido and chums, sum them, and you'll still have enough to fit in the woman to the right's average score.
So the bystanders were impressed, and more than a little bit awestruck.
Wifey and I bowled a second game, and I actually didn't do very well (129, mostly because my arm was killing me by then). But my two-game sum was highly remarked-upon by our neighbors, and when we left, they were sorry to see us go.
Wifey, it must be said, would have been competitive within Guido's group, despite the fact that she had what was (for her) an awful game and didn't break 100.
"So," I said to her as we left. "Did seeing that display of bowling prowess give you a new appreciation for just how awesome I really am?"
"Not really," she said. "I've seen you with your pants off."
After that we went to play mini-golf in an indoor, black-lit course. All I'll say about that is this: mini-golf is an evil game and everyone who is any good at it is a she-devil, particularly those who won't even flash their husbands on a vacant course because "I think they have cameras in here and I don't wanna get thrown out."
Pffft. It's Europe! As long as you don't get body fluids on the course I'm pretty sure anything goes, doesn't it?