Saturday, April 27, 2013

Battling Back the Bell Curve

I’ve never been a fan of bowling. What is bowling, anyway? A person in slippery shoes  rolls a ball down a lane to knock over some pins. It is called a “sport”, yet there are no opponents making it more difficult, the pins don’t move, and you don’t even have to go down there to get your ball back- it simply “reappears”. That’s not a sport. Even if you can drink beer while doing it. 

When I was a kid, my dad took us all on Saturdays to the local alley to play bowling. I was not impressed. I was bored. It was too loud. Everyone was fat and way too excited about what wasn’t happening. When my dad joined a league and bought a ball and had his name engraved on it, I was horrified. His official status as My Hero was now overshadowed by the image of him working on his spin, which he could never get right, even though THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO VARIABLES IN THE GAME. Not even wind. 

As you can see, bowling and I are not friends.

I’m reluctant to admit this, but I went bowling with some friends a while back (it was probably raining), and I was having a marginally good time. Then, somewhere around the fourth frame, I had this moment: I stood there at the top of that lane, cradling my 8-pound pink ball in both hands, staring at those pins- and time stopped. I thought about the whole of my life and all of the things I’d done and all the great people I’d met, and how everything conspired to bring me to my current circumstances. It was magical and zen-like and strange, the hairs on the back of my neck all stood up and I imagined that this frame was somehow going to be a metaphor for my whole life. Really- that’s what I thought.

So when I brought that ball back and sent it down the alley, I fully expected a strike. I expected those pins to careen and shatter as if they’d been hit by a blazing pink rocket. I expected to turn to my cheering friends and tell them about the enormity of what had just happened. What I did not expect was a 7. 

A 7. In school, 7 out of 10 is a “C”, is average, is the middle of the bell curve, is what I’ve strived my entire life NOT to be. But there it was, right there. Or maybe it was the wind.

My life is a 7-pin frame. Fuck you, bowling. I still hate you.