(All teams have paired off and gone to their respective lanes. THIS IS SPARE-TA! and WPS PAY ROLL have set up on the far right side. There’s about seven minutes left of practice before the games begin.)
MERRITT Motions with a stupid little bow to THE ONEDER
THE ONEDER You want me to take some practice bowls?
MERRITT That’s what this time’s for.
THE ONEDER (Still putting on her shoes) Bowl for me, then. I’ll be ready soon.
Team players have been bowling in both lanes a couple times already. THE ONEDER finally gets up to join them. Takes a 9lb ball and chucks it down the lane, knocking all 10 pins down.
MERRITT Nice. See that’s why you practice.
THE ONEDER It’s wasted in practice.
HIP CHIMP gets up to bowl. She knocks down nine pins. THE INTERNATIONAL follows suit with a spare. All this is still practice time. Everyone takes this time to introduce themselves.
TUMULTY Those are cool nicknames. Who came up with them?
OL’ REICHY She did. (motioning to HIP CHIMP)
HIP CHIMP His was supposed to be SCOTCH N BURN… but he changed it.
THE ONEDER Why didn’t you like that name? It’s awesome.
OL’ REICHY I dunno. (bursts into laughter)
THE ONEDER Why’s his name THE INTERNATIONAL?
HIP CHIMP He speaks Mandarin. And his wife’s in China.
NICOLE Hey guys, here’s your Blue Moon. That’s 5 bucks each.
(She proceeds to set down three shots and a couple beers in front of the other team.)
Do you guys want to keep a tab open?
[Game 1 is about to start. At this point, it’s necessary to stray from the play format and delve into some narrative.]
THE ONEDER is looking over the stat sheet and mining for any clues to the weaknesses of the WPS PAY ROLL team. It doesn’t look good. There is a reason why this team has been in the No. 1 spot since the league began. No one has gotten close to dethroning them. Even seated comfortably in second place, THIS IS SPARE-TA is still a few games behind. In order to take the lead, THIS IS SPARE-TA will have to win two of the three games.
It’s time to start bowling. THE ONEDER and THE INTERNATIONAL are the first members up for each team. Still unsure which is the best course of action, THE ONEDER quickly looks at her average — 79 — and aims for at least eight pins in the first frame. She gets up to bowl, hits her mark and hurries back to her homework.
The Area 15 league works with a 210-point handicap. Every week the players bowl their three games. At the end of the night, their individual game points are averaged and the difference is the handicap. Wins and losses are based off that 210 points, not the individual frames. That’s the only way a team with a member that averages 79 points can still hold on to second place.
The realization THE ONEDER came to was heavy. WPS was good, yes, but more than that, they were consistent. They didn’t have a star bowler on the team, but rather all three of them fluctuated around the 100-point margin.
On the other hand, THIS IS SPARE-TA did have an obviously more experienced bowler in MERRITT. Unfortunately, he’d been hitting a wall the last few games and the recent wins have come from surprises from THE ONEDER and TUMULTY, who just came off a week where she bowled a 130, or a 257 with handicap.
The two top-scoring teams last week were WPS with 1994 points (over three games) and SPARE-TA with 1949 points. Both teams swept their competition. WPS peaked in the second game with 698 points among the three bowlers. SPARE-TA likewise peaked with 680.
THE ONEDER knew it would be close and that the best chance they had was to bowl their averages. She was off to a good start. TUMULTY, whose average was 87, was similarly doing well. But MERRITT, that black sheep with a 147 average, he still couldn’t get out of his bowling funk. Perhaps someone should have taken a few more practice bowls.
The game stayed fairly close between the two teams. One would be up in one frame, and then the next would be up in the other frame. Because WPS was so closely matched, it was hard to tell who would be the standout bowler. Late in the first game, however, it became clear that THE INTERNATIONAL would carry the team. On SPARE-TA’s side, no such leader emerged. What did emerge was the bane of the team…
It came down to the last bowler in the last frame. SPARE-TA was up by a few pins and up strolls HIP CHIMP. She bowls and quickly turns around. That’s her M.O. — refusing to watch the ball hit the pins or fly into the gutter. She knocks down just enough to put them over the edge.
Five points! They took the game by five measly points! 607 to 602.
THE ONEDER couldn’t believe their luck. It was such a low-scoring game on both sides. How could this have happened? She beat her average by 2 points. TUMULTY beat hers by 10. MERRITT, oh MERRITT, he bowled a 107…. yuck… on anyone else that would be decent. On him, that’s 30 points below his average and grounds for some ancient Greek discipline.
[and back to play format…]
THE ONEDER Son of a #%*#!
OL’ REICHY hahahahaha
TUMULTY We have to take the next two games for first place.
end of Act 2
PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Act I
UP NEXT: Game 2, guerilla warfare, a sinking ship