The One About Bowling Practice

Because I think it’s a very, very good cause and because I have no dignity whatsoever, I agreed to join several other crime writers on a Bowling for Boobies team.

Have you seen a writer perform anything that could remotely be called a sport in public, in front of spectators no less? No, I didn’t think so, and there are reasons. But darn it, all the money goes straight to women with breast cancer who need help paying their everyday bills, buying groceries and traveling to their treatments. (If you’d like to support our team, click here, and may the universe bless you and give you parking spots and plentiful wi-fi.)

Compared to that, a little public humiliation doesn’t seem like much, but I figured maybe I could limit it. I could practice beforehand.


For an hour.

I mean, it’s bowling. I’ve bowled before. Like twice. While drunk. And still drinking. How hard can a sport be that can be performed with a beer in one hand and nacho cheese on your chin, right?

Well, it helps if you don’t throw the ball backward into the crowd behind you.

Hey! Those balls are slippery. They polish them.

The first thing that became apparent is that everyone in the bowling alley was more or less my age, which undeniably means I am now the age of People Who Bowl. On a Saturday night. In L.A. Voluntarily. So to start with, I had to cry a little and just get that out of the way.

Then I had to pay. Holy mother of kangaroo babies. Two games for two people plus shoes was $38. Do you know what $38 and the right hand gesture will buy you on the other side of town? And you don’t even have to wear anybody else’s shoes. (Of course, you’ll want to be sure you’ve had your shots first.)

I had to wait for a lane, so I decided to use the time wisely, leaning over the little half wall protecting me from others with my level of coordination and trying to see what the more successful bowlers were doing right. I gathered that I should start my approach as far back as possible and throw the ball with as much force and spin as I could manage.

No problem.

Do you know that bowling shoes have no tread? And that after they polish all the balls, they lay down a coat of wax on the floorboards that makes it possible to scoot around like the puck on an air hockey table? And by “scoot around,” I mean flail about like Wile E. Coyote.

I’m just saying.

It also turns out that the “force and spin” thing I mentioned earlier only works if you also happen to possess control. You should also keep your eye on the pins. It sounds obvious, but they paint all these bits and shapes and dots and arrows on the lanes to distract you, and I am as distractible as a kitten with a bit of tinsel.

But really the trouble started when I threw the ball the first time. It went the right way down the lane and knocked over seven whole pins. I concluded the only obvious thing. I was a bowling genius.

This turned out to be premature.

I never managed to knock down all the pins, on several occasions knocked down no pins, wrenched my thumb, devolved into an over handed throw and eventually realized blind monkeys would be better suited to the sport than I.

Have no fear, when the actual day of the tournament arrives, there will be a photographer for your amusement. And as soon as they let me out of traction, I’ll write it up right here.

(Okay, the donation button again. I’m shameless but only for charity.)