Bowling for Ballers

Don't try it in Stacy Adams shoes

By Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: January 23, 2009

Bowling for Ballers

Last week, once again, I tried to get the hang, the gusto, of bowling. I went to a local alley with a group of friends, two of whom had never bowled. We had a fairly good time, but I am not ready to join a Moose Lodge. The whole experience seemed weirdly mid-American-subcultural for me. I felt like buying a van conversion.

I have three or four buster-bust bowling experiences under my belt and was in no position to give any advice, such as:

"Rent the whack shoes, don't try it in Stacy Adams."


"Try to knock them all down the first time so no one from another lane tries to coach you."

Some families have a tradition of bowling as a culturally honored activity. Many have the hubris to tout that fact that their uncle had two 300 games, or their dad/mom/whoever was a member of 9 teams at once. Although serious to some, bowling is never a job, unless, of course, you are a compulsive gambler. If so, you have bigger problems anyway.

You hear disjointed, inane, often pointless stories about some step-cousin who angled a split, then picked up a spare in the last frame which gave him a pin up to win the tourney.

There was a guy next to us bowling all alone. He had major equipment. A friend said, "That guy has four balls." I replied, "Maybe he lives next to a nuclear power plant." Another guy said, "My ball is green." I told him to take antibiotics.

A word to bowling-aholics: It is virtually impossible to impress an urbanite with bowling lingo. It's like wearing a pair of overalls with a bow tie.

Where I come from, any public display of math skills was avoided like the plague. It's a good thing that all of the scoring is done by computer; this is done so the scorekeeper doesn't get sucker punched.

Bowling is now family friendly. This alley (which looked like a wooden parking lot) had a mug shot of Rodney Dangerfield in a red Vegas tuxedo. It was up on a TV screen mugging you if you rolled a gutter ball. I saw his face more than once. "Our high school football team was so tough, after they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family" "Nice hat. What? They couldn't guess your weight?" "Nice tie. Did you get a bowl of soup with it?"

During college, my friends and I hated bowling because it was one of Richard Nixon's favorite pasttimes. He even had an alley built in the White House. Tricky Dick was wrong about Viet Nam but may be right about bowling. I saw lots of folks my age trying to get their roll on. That being said, Obama is ditching the White House bowling alley for a basketball court.

Lifelong bowlers assume a smug, often nerd-like, bravado as soon as they put on their pastel paneled shirts and lace up their special education-looking, Ringling Brothers-styled shoes.

I do, however, like those Silver Lake chic bowling shirts. The kind you can buy at the segunda (thrift store). The ones with the names like "Buddy," "Lucky" and "Ace" embroidered over the left front pocket.

There should be some standard bowling rule that docks someone who owns their own ball, bag, and shoes, a few dozen pins per game.

Bowling to me is very much like golf. In my opinion, any competitive activity that can be accomplished in everyday street clothes cannot be considered a real sport.

It seems reasonable that any sport that you can play in church clothes and cannot cause grave injury couldn't be that physically challenging, and should be categorized as para-sport.

What is great about bowling is that it is the most multi-ethic activity I have ever seen. Every race represents, and bowling is no respecter of ethnicity. There is no racial dominance in this para-athletic endeavor. Bowling teams represent churches, businesses, social organizations, political organizations, and are irrespective of gender.

If you can bowl, know how to work the shirt and the shoes, someone will want you on a team. I have been given no offers at this time.

It would also be helpful if the pins could be painted to look like, maybe, ex-girl friends, the boss, political figures, DMV clerks, IRS agents and insurance salespeople.

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