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Bowling’s second-class citizenry

To be filed under: I have other interests besides soccer

There’s a sick, sad reality unfolding in SoCal’s bowling alleys. Frankly, I’m surprised no one has alerted the ACLU about this prevalent and blatant systemic racism, this miscarriage of justice, this deep-rooted inequity that privileges the few at the expense of the many.

Yes, I’m talking about bowling.

If you’re not in a bowling league, you’d might as well forfeit any desire or wish to play during the week. Of course, you can seek out other alleys but you’d have to pay top dollar for them (Lucky Strike, anyone?). And who really has that kind of money to spare these days?

This is how ex-leaguers bowl during the week.

Many times I’ve tried to go bowling during the week only to be foiled by The Man The League. The last time was a few weeks ago and when we struck out at all the lanes, we ended up “bowling” at a bar.

I get it. I really do. I was in a league. You’re playing for money and pride and don’t want rowdy assholes who don’t understand proper lane decorum standing in your peripheral and getting in the way of your quest for top scorer, top handicap. Proper manners should be enough to keep you from yelling at Dude to SIT THE EFF DOWN and WAIT BEFORE  GETTING ALL UP IN YOUR GRILL.

But, know what? Being in a league doesn’t assure you a private bowling alley. You  must still SHARE THE LANES.

And that brings me to the impetus of my rage: Why are there never any open lanes during the week? Not until 10 p.m., 10:45 p.m., 11 p.m.

Really? not a single one!

Unbelievable. Inconceivable.

What’s worse is my realization that I was part of this problem, this privileged elite. Last year, when I was in a league, I strutted along the alley like I owned those lanes. (Go Spare-ta!) Damn, I was the same stuck-up punk who booted an innocent fun-loving non-leaguer from the game until 9 p.m.

Mine eyes are open. Blinded no longer.

I’m standing up for bowling’s second-class citizens everywhere. What’s a girl got to do to get a lane at a decent hour on a Wednesday or Thursday night??

PHOTO: from OhioHistoryCentral.org  and from that outing of non-bowling.

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The Tragedy of SPARE-TA: Act I

ACT I

Scene 1

(Enter THE ONEDER and E. BAGGESEY. All other characters already present.)

TUMULTY                        Hey, we’re all wearing black tank tops!

E. BAGGESEY                  What? (realizes what she’s wearing) Oh, yeah.

BRANDIFER                    Me too! See I’m wearing it under my shirt (pulls up her bowling shirt to reveal, yes, there is a black tank top on underneath)

THE ONEDER                  (rolls her eyes a little as she realizes the little things that amuse her bowling mates) Ummm… so where’s Nicole?

Scene 2

(THE ONEDER walks over to her lane assignment where she sees MERRITT, HIP CHIMP, OL’ REICHY and THE INTERNATIONAL)

THE ONEDER                  to MERRITT Hey, how’s it going?

MERRITT                           Alright. Did you practice?

THE ONEDER                  Is that always going to be your first question?

MERRITT                           Yeah. So did you?

THE ONEDER                   No, but we did make up the three games from that other week (motioning to TUMULTY who has joined the lanes)

MERRITT                           How did you do?

THE ONEDER                  Not great.

TUMULTY                         But it’s OK. It should bring down our averages. That’ll help against this team (motioning to WPS Pay Roll)

THE ONEDER                  It wasn’t my fault though. Listen up. First, they stuck us in lanes 1 and 2. Those over there (points to the far end of the bowling alley) We’re bowling right against the wall in one lane and then, if that’s not enough, we have gum on the other. Gum!

MERRITT                          Gum?

THE ONEDER                  Yeah, gum! Right in the path. It messed with my walk and got in my head.

MERRITT                           looks at TUMULTY for some clarification

TUMULTY                         (shrugs) Yeah, but at least it’ll bring our averages down.

OL’ REICHY                      (starts laughing) Where’s Nicole?

Scene 3

(All characters are gathered around lane as CHRIS starts dropping the bowling wisdom. He’s standing in an awkwardly balanced position, swinging his arm up and down.)

CHRIS                                I’ve noticed that some of you have terrible form. If you manage to knock anything down, it’s based on pure luck. (Grabs a ball and approaches nearest lane)

Here, let me show you how it’s supposed to look.

{Takes a few steps. Plants foot. Sweeps other foot behind. Swings arm forward. Releases ball and follows through. Bowling ball curves and spins its way down the lane until it knocks down EVERY pin. Applause}

Do you see how I’m standing? I could be here all day. I’m centered and balanced. Some of you are falling over the second you release the ball.

{His ball has returned. He picks it up and repeats the exact same motion as before with exact same results.}

Let’s work on that today.

(Enter Nicole)

OL’ REICHY                       to Nicole… whiskey shots, please.

HIP CHIMP                        A lemon drop

THE INTERNATIONAL            Corona

TUMULTY                           Blue Moon

Chorus of other bowlers makes the requests indistinguishable. People are shouting beer names, brands, and bar food.

NICOLE                                (to herself) I need another cigarette break.

 

End of Act I

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Cast of characters

UP NEXT: A cruel realization, a close call and a time of desperation in Act 2

The Power of One

For three weeks, eight teams have been competing in one-one-one bouts of the most ferocious competition at Mar Vista’s AMF. The Area 15 rookie league has brought out the best and the worst of mankind. Including the liars… those who so obviously are NOT ROOKIES.

This league isn’t for the timid or the weak-hearted. There are 10- 12- 16-pound spheres being chucked at record speed. Blink and you’re dead. Always keep a weather eye. Or if you’re bowling near me, it’s the deceivingly light 8-pounder coming at you.

After two weeks of play, Team 5 came in second place. That’s me! yay!!
[Our official name: This is SPARE-ta!! Our inspiration:  300 get it, get it]

-pause for adulation-

I redeemed myself after that abysmal 38 pins in Game 3 the previous week. I got over my final-game fatigue and posted my highest score to date: 115. My average skyrocketed from a 68 to 75 or 76. I’ll have to double check those stats.

Amazing, but short-lived.

I was back to form this week. But learning some lessons, nonetheless:

1.) Embrace the older bowlers

After the initial week, Tumulty (teammate’s bowling name) and I were paired with another bowler to make a complete three-person team. I initially ho-hummed at the guy because he had spent the first week telling me all the rules of league play. Obviously, I didn’t care. But after I bowled and after Tumulty bowled, I realized that our team’s salvation would rely on him. The older bowlers, the ones who don’t have to order a new bowling shirt and can provide their own ball, bring a level of skill that will obviously benefit a team.
EVIDENCE: Ranked second.

2.) Looking legit doesn’t make you play any better

I already own a pair of bowling shoes and Week 3 was the first time I had my shirt and Tumulty had hers. They’re plain turquoise bowling shirts with our nicknames on them. We look legit-ish. We played terribly. Even the guy who was supposed to be holding up the team wasn’t at peak performance. I didn’t break my 38-pin record, but I came mighty close and was only able to make my target once, in the final frame.

Game 1: 49           Game 2: 53           Game 3: 97

3.) Wishes do come true

Early on in my bowling career, I kept noticing a pattern. The number 1 kept haunting me. It got to be kind of ridiculous. If I didn’t out right throw a gutter ball, I only managed to knock down ONE pin. If I didn’t luck out with a strike, I only left ONE pin.

I decided to call myself The Wonder. Well, actually — The Oneder, straight out of That Thing You Do! That’s the name that’s on my bowling shirt. It was funny.

Only trouble is… it’s now annoyingly accurate. ONEs… everywhere! Damn, self-fulling prophecies!!

PHOTOS: The Oneder’s bowling shirt and shoes.

Redemption: Thy name is bowling

The bowling competition officially began this week! The cut-throat campaign will be raged Wednesday nights in Mar Vista. Come down, only if you’re not squeamish.

So I’m still unsure how the scoring goes and what the deal is with the average handicap. I’m assuming I just need to worry about improving each week. To be determined.

What I do know and what the photo above proves is that somewhere, deep deep down, lies the capacity and potential to rock the lanes. Full disclosure—the frames above were not from the first game of the season, but rather the warm-up a week earlier.

I was third in the line-up. My bowling game—Cousteau (misspelled above)—is marked with record gutter balls, but also has a total of three strikes, including two back-to-back Xs. If memory proves, I’m pretty sure I came back from behind to win this game. The ultimate sand-bagging ninja!

This is all a long windup/preface because I’m about to share my scores from the first official game on Wednesday. I felt the need to preemptively justify myself.

Game 1… 85

Game 2… 80

Game 3… 38!

38!! I was that abysmal. My bowling endurance can’t yet go the distance. And because Game 3 was a complete failure, now my average hovers around 68. Or maybe it was all part of my low-bowling strategy that will surely pay off in the long run… muahhhahahaahha

For now, there are more pressing issues. Like coming up with a team name, shirts and deciding if I’m ready to make a shoe commitment.

PHOTO: Shot of the scoreboard during a game last week where I bowled back-to-back strikes.