Bowled Over

I got a call from my sister Kate (she’s the daughter of my dad and stepmother, but I’ve always thought the term “half-sister” to be a bit dehumanizing) on Sunday afternoon, almost immediately upon getting in the door after driving back from three days in Rapid City, S.D. I told her I’d call back later, and when I did in the early evening an unmistakable sound could be heard in the background — that of crashing pins.

Kate, as it turns, was on a bowling date with her new boyfriend. We didn’t talk long, but I suggested that the next time we see each other, we descend upon the nearest alley to roll a couple of games. She said she’d like that, and that was more or less the conversation.

Ironically, at just about the same time, my brother Ian sent me an email. He’s been occasionally blogging and wanted to pass along his latest entry — a reminiscence of a professional bowling match of long ago, of all things.

Ian’s writing of a blog about a decades-past pro bowling event, it should be noted, isn’t entirely random. We often look back fondly at our respective childhoods when talking on the phone, and one of the key components of our younger days — especially for me — was bowling. I was in a kids’ league on Saturday mornings, and eventually got a varsity letter in bowling in my junior year of high school. (No one would ever guess this if I was seen bowling now.) Our mom’s apartment featured a long, narrow hallway that certainly must have been designed with plastic bowling balls and pins in mind; this and living-room “wallball” (essentially handball with a Nerf basketball) were popular pastimes. One of our favorite parts of going to an Adirondacks retreat operated by friends was competing in the two-lane bowling alley, which required manual pin-setting as well as double pairs of socks and long underwear (it seemed to be always frigid in that place, though looking back I think we must have always gone in winter months).

Nowadays, bowling isn’t nearly as common in either of our lives. I perhaps go once a year, as Becca and I take the kids to Oxford Bowl and the gutter bumpers set up. I don’t think I’ve bowled on a gutter-proof alley since the weekend of my 40th birthday, when Ian visited and we rolled a couple of games in Lake Park, Iowa — and he, heresy of heresies, defeated me in both the first game and composite score.

Next time we meet, a must-item on the agenda should be a trip to the lanes. I’d love to go back to Albany, N.Y. Schade’s Academy (from which were once unceremoniously banned by an old woman with the distinguising characteristic of half an ear) and Saratoga Bowl, but both — like a lot of American alleys — are no longer. It would be cool to roll a game or two at the awesome Bowl-Mor in New York, the site of a few excursions in the early ’90s. 

Worthington’s Oxford Bowl, though, would certainly suffice as a site for a brotherly match. This time, Ian, you’re going down!