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Can anyone say polyester?


June 29, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

I used to never think much about bowling.

For most of my life I figured bowling was for middle-aged people who drank too much beer and pretended to be athletes.

Sure, I spent plenty of time in bowling alleys. When I was a kid I used to go to the bowling alley to eat tuna melts during the summer. Then when I got to high school I used to hang out at the bowling alley to play pool and check out the girls who were hanging out there drinking sodas and checking out the guys.

In fact, with the exception of a trip to the bowling alley I took with a day camp I attended when I was 7 years old, I don't think I'd ever toed the bowling line for real until about five years after I'd graduated from high school. My flirtation with the game then was brief, as it was mostly a way for me and my friends to pass time while we were drinking that aforementioned beer.


Well, all that's changed now. I guess things started about three months ago. My swell wife, Kelly, and I were spending the day in San Diego and on our way out of town I asked if she'd like to bowl. She responded with a confident yes and quickly told me to be wary of her "mastery" of the game. Of course I scoffed, I doubted she could be all that great and I was equally sure I was ready to take the bowling world by storm. The way I saw things it wasn't going to be long before I was on the Professional Bowlers Association tour.

Reality soon set in when I rolled an incredible 75 in my first game and hit 90 in my second. Yes, my combined scores from two games weren't even good enough to get me on the tour. I finished that day with a 110 in my final game and despite being beaten two times by my wife (or perhaps because of it) I was hooked.

From that day on, my weekend motto has been "have lanes will bowl." Seeing as our Valley is horribly lacking a bowling facility, I have been forced to pack up my socks and resin bag and head in any (and every) direction I could to find a place to bowl. My travels have taken me back to San Diego, to Yuma, Palm Springs, Coachella and even as far as Phoenix, where I bowled in the same alley as Napoleon in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."

My game has improved with each trip … well except for a bad Sunday morning spent in some bland part of San Diego. My average is finally up and after that first day I no longer lose to Kelly.

But the whole thing strikes me as a bit of a puzzle. I am consumed by the sounds of balls rolling on oiled wooden floors and I'm not really sure why. When you break it down, I just don't know what the attraction is. At this point I know that I'll never join the PBA. Hell, I'm pretty sure I'll never even roll a 300 and the thought of hitting 200 seems like as far-off a dream as taking a trip to the moon.

But still I persevere. And don't think it's about the beer drinking, either. No, when you're a serious bowler, you leave the brew in the bar. At least that's my motto. Perhaps it's that I, too, want to pretend to be an athlete? I guess that reason is as good as any.

Whatever the reason, all I know is that my new passion is driving me crazy, but at least it's not driving me to drink.

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