Friday, January 05, 2007


Learning curve

Bowling, I think, is an absolutely terrible sport to watch on TV. The trouble is, the players are just too damned good at it. There's never anything special about that moment when all the pins go down, simply because it happens with monotonous regularity; there's only a sense of disappointment when the pins don't go down.

In terms of dissatisfaction, I think it's very much what Christmas would be like if you were a millionaire. Oh wow- a motorbike? Gee, thanks- like I couldn't have bought that for myself.


My self-enforced time off from drinking lasted until the next e-mail I received: Adam, back from America. Want to go boozing? Uh, okay...

First stop: Ethiopian restaurant. Nice food, shame about the bill. We're not in Korea now, Toto.

Next up: bowling.

With undistinguished scores (and the deluded fist pumping of the occasional strike) we played out a fairly leisurely best of five, which Adam won in the last game.

Sitting on the alley seats, watching the technique of the serious bowlers on ESPN on the overhead screens, we began talking about how they do it; man, look at that backswing, that's huge. Woah, that spun like a-

A thought came to me: what say we stay here, bowling and pounding beers, until we've perfected bowling technique, as seen on ESPN? How long could it take? Uh, okay...

Our aims: mad high backswing, devastating spin and multiple consecutive strikes.

The consecutive strikes were the first to be struck off our list as it quickly became apparent that we were going to be lucky if we could get the ball into the right lane. Mad high backswing was the next to go after Adam got a bit too into it and accidentally bowled a ball backwards at me.

(The objective of pounding beers was going quite nicely.)

The last target we felt like we had any chance of succeeding in was spinning the ball, but even this was proving completely beyond us. The guy on the next lane to us was achieving some modest spin, but he was left handed and everyone knows that left handers are the unholy offspring of Satan and Hecate. Meanwhile, I was doing considerable damage to my wrist, fingers and patience, and most of my efforts weren't even hitting the pins.

Adam was faring no better. He scowled thoughtfully at Lefty McWitchcraft, our sinister neighbour; hey, check it out dude: he's keeping his hand under the ball.

Would this work? Our next efforts, whilst not actually threatening the pins, did curve rather impressively.

Enthused at having made some headway, we punched up another game on the alley computer.

My action by now was completely dissimilar from what was happening on ESPN: rather than bowling, I lobbed my first ball hopefully onto the lane with the kind of ungainly hip toss one might expect to see from a nine-year-old Judoka. The ball, spinning wildly, landed on the cusp of the gutter, found some traction on the slippery alley surface then sped on an arc of destruction into the pins.

The pins went flying: all of them.

Two children in a field, doing wrong: they've "borrowed" Dad's shotgun and are now pointing it at a scarecrow at point-blank range.

There is a deafening roar and in the deafening silence that follows, the two youthful miscreants stand awestruck in a haze of smoke, as bits of singed straw float peacefully down on the breeze.

Actually, our high-pitched whoops of delight caused several of the alley's other patrons to gutter their balls, which they were mid-way through bowling. Finally, we had perfected bowling, as seen on ESPN.

Well, I had: Adam was experiencing some technical difficulties.

do not adjust your set

Yeah, that's my score on the top. In Adam's favour, I will remind the reader that trying to learn a new skill whilst pounding beers is not the easiest thing in the world and I will also mention that Adam had earlier distinguished himself by pulling off a left-handed spare. Of course, he is not naturally left handed, otherwise I would not associate with him. One time I saw a staff at our school writing with her left hand; I wouldn't stop screaming and firing staples at her until she ran away. She moved to another school shortly afterwards.

One other thing I'll mention: I threw my remaining two balls of this game down the gutter, then failed to reach sixty in the next game. Technical difficulties which, I hope, were caused by excessive beer pounding. The dream of perfect bowling technique as seen on ESPN is still very much alive.

(...As evinced by the fact that Adam accidentally bowled his drink across the dancefloor at the club we went to afterwards, the drunken twit.)


You neglected to mention the fact that after bowling 9 games apiece we were out a combined total 12,000 yen, thus resulting in the single most expensive bowling event of my life. Even surpassing the efforts of my parents as they arranged childhood birthday parties; including the bumper bowling fee, pizza, cake, and gifts.
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