I posted earlier about joining a senior bowler league. (You can read about it here.)
Today I want to tell about two very different bowlers I had the opportunity to watch this summer.
She was bowling with an afternoon group of kids who had taken over the entire building. The kids ranged in age from preschool to preteen. Every group had a chaperone who, to me in my senior years, looked like kids themselves. Each lane had the maximum number that they could list and some of the kids were bowling in street shoes. Loud? Chaotic? Oh, yeah.
A friend was meeting me to practice bowl with my new ball before we bowled with our league. When he walked in, his eyes widened as he scanned the wall-to-wall mass of kids. He quickly turned and walked out, shaking his head.
I’m a writer. And I’m nosy. This wasn’t something one gets to see every day so I found a seat.
That’s when I say her. The little angel, straight out of central casting. She held the ball in both hands, carefully walked to the line, and sent the ball on its way.
If you haven’t been in a bowling alley lately, they have come up with a simply marvelous invention. They can put up bumpers along the lanes so that before your ball falls into the gutter, keeping your ball from having a chance to knock down any pins, it bounces off the bumper allowing you to hit something. (No, they don’t let me use them. Stop smirking. And no, I did not ask.)
Her ball, with the speed of an inchworm, first curved to the left, bounced off the bumper and slowly, slowly, continued down the lane.
Every mystery writer hopes to build this amount of tension into their stories. When will the ball hit the pins? What pin will it hit? Will it have enough force to knock anything down?
I tore my eyes from the ball and watched the child. She stood at the line, her wide eyes glued to the inching ball, her hands to her chin. The ball finally hit the pins knocking down three or four.
Her reaction caught me by surprise. I expected to see a leap and the next cheerleader break out. However, without any change of expression on her face, she looked back at her group as if she needed a sign of how she should react.
A child’s innocence. A totally bank slate of experiences or expectations.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently started bowling in a senior league. One of my teammates is a lady who I’ve been told is 86. Her back is bent, she has to move carefully, but her joy is infectious.
On the monitor above the lanes, there was a space where it showed how fast you rolled your ball. Most of the bowlers bowled from ten miles an hour and up. My speed was around thirteen. My teammate’s speed was six.
Like the little girl’s ball, every eye followed my teammate’s ball as it made its way toward the pins. It’s funny how, as she bowled, our opponents and the people on the lanes around us began to watch and to cheer her on. She knew just where to roll the ball to hit her target.
You heard the ahhs as her ball hit the pocket, the sweet spot that you aim for to knock all the pins down, and inexplicably one or two pins usually remained standing. She couldn’t get the oomph to knock them all down. When she did get a strike, the whole area would erupt.
But it’s my teammate’s reaction when she bowled that most caught my attention. While the ball is still rolling, she would turn and walk back to the start to watch the monitor.
Quite a difference to the little girl who stood like a statue watching her ball until it made contact.
I thought my teammate had bowled so much that she knew what to expect. That the anticipation wasn’t as strong. It was a couple of weeks before I learned the truth.
She couldn’t see the pins.