Sunday, December 11, 2016

Having a Ball -- and a Fall -- on Bowling Night

If you’re my age, you probably remember Mars Blackmon’s refrain from the popular Nike ads. “It’s gotta be da shoes,” screamed Blackmon, aka Spike Lee. When it came to my near catastrophe at the bowling alley this week, Blackmon was right. It was definitely da shoes.

I bowl once a week in a men’s league.  I have a pretty regular ritual. So regular, in fact, that it’s damn near rote at this point. I sit down, lace up my bowling shoes, polish my bowling ball, place it on the rack, pay the team captain and wait for practice to start.

But this week, my routine was interrupted with disastrous consequences. I spotted a friend from work on the next lane. I was eager to chat with him. So I started cleaning my bowling ball as we caught up. When we were finished talking, I put the ball on the rack, paid the captain and waited for practice to start. See anything missing?

Because it was cold outside, I wore blue jeans to bowling – instead of shorts – for the first time this year. For some reason, I was oddly concerned that I might trip over my pant leg. So, as I stumbled on my first practice ball, I blamed the jeans. Then, on my second practice ball, the stumble turned into an all-out, head-first sprawl onto the lanes. That’s right. I dived onto the oil with all the gusto of Pete Rose into third base with a full audience of bowlers watching.

I scrambled to my feet, took inventory of any personal injury (thankfully, the only bruises were to my ego) and sat down in the same seat where I had sat just moments before so blissfully ignorant of what was to come. I was still trying to figure out exactly what had happened when the team captain came to check on me. He pointed to my shoes. They were sneakers … not bowling shoes. Bowling shoes slide. Sneakers stick. When sneakers stick, you fall … hard.

So Mars was right. It was not da jeans. It was da shoes.

But don’t feel sorry for me. This story has an unexpected happy ending (besides survival). After such an inauspicious beginning, I ended up bowling my best series ever … about 650 actual. Perhaps I concentrated better knowing I’d have to do something to redeem myself. Or maybe I was just lucky. Either way, I’m thinking of taking another header this week … just in case.

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