I don’t normally think of Bowling as a drop in activity.
We tried, yesterday. We were walking out East with no particular designs on the day, when we stumbled upon a bowling alley. A simple sign advertising a bowl-o-rama or bowleria or whatever. We walked down the stairs into a small establishment, perhaps eight lanes. The music was loud, the lighting was cosmic. There was probably a kid’s birthday party going on. A mustachio’d gent who looked like he’d been churned through an algorithm to be the perfect bowl-o-runner (one who runs a bowl-o-rama, obviously. It’s in the name). Did you know that it costs about $20 for half an hour to rent a lane, and that shoe rental is $3? Did you realise that you could probably get a game finished in 30 minutes? Especially with two people. You could 100% throw down $13 and have a game of bowling out of nowhere. I haven’t gone bowling in years (the last time was part of a planned “low class date”), but it’s apparently more accessible than I thought. If I’m prepared to drop $5 on a coffee, $13 isn’t as much of a stretch for some good ol’ fashioned novelty entertainment.
Of course, for a ton of people bowling is a pretty regular activity. At least, movies have taught me that bowling leagues are commonplace, especially for dysfunctional men with a ball-and-chain mentality. I’m not one of them, so bowling rings in my mind as a mainstay of children’s parties. It’s funny to think of how subjective “regular” is. Our hobbies and interest help us find delight in the world, to meet other like-minded folks. I’m sure most would find the amount of time and brain space I devote to Magic the Gathering to be pretty weird. I’m one of them. But it gives me an area to focus on, and helps keep me engaged. To me, Magic is like an endless puzzle, with nigh infinite pieces (but realistically, over 18,000 unique ones. It’s actually relatively quantifiable). New sets are released on a regular schedule, which means constant recalibration and adjustment. Novel options arise to change decks that’ve held in their form for years. Archetypes shift, and the metagame is in a continual state of flux. I’m sure this is exciting for exactly me, and the hordes of players worldwide. I’ve found a niche I like, for others, that’s bowling.
I truly know nothing about the life of an avid bowler. Are there variations in strategy? Or is it all getting that technique honed to a fine point, then lather, rinse, repeat? Do people at high level ever make mistakes? Or do they dole out constant 300 point games? When you’re of such a calibre, where does the excitement come from? Are there hair trigger differences that can throw a match? Is ball technology important? Are there specific resins or chemical compounds that make for better balls? What role does superstition play? Or do players know that technique makes the difference, and superstition takes a backseat to physics? Are high level bowlers held with the same esteem we reserve for NBA players? Does the sport have legends, competitors who rose above and beyond? What of controversy? Is there a Tonya Harding of bowling? What of gender bias? Does the difference in ball sizes eliminate score differential between genders? Since everything’s turn based, does that mean women and men compete in the same leagues? Or is there still a massive disparity, like so many sports? Hell, what does an ideal bowling body look like? Would the Sports Illustrated Body Issue of a bowler have one massive arm? Are there specific body parts that get toned? Do they have super rigid wrists from keeping the ball aligned? Or are there surprisingly jacked back muscles that help send the ball straight and true? I have so many questions.
But I’m just a filthy casual who now thinks about drop ins. Will I ever learn who the Michael Jordan of bowling is? Have I ever had the impulse to know these things before?
Guess I should strike while the iron’s hot.