Tabitha almost beat me in bowling the other day.
This is a real achievement on her part. I don’t go easy on the girls. I do the best I can, and if they beat me then they know they did it for real. I’m not so good a bowler that this presents an insurmountable challenge – I expect that one or the other of them will outscore me at some point fairly soon – but I’m good enough that doing so will represent a clear victory for them.
The newfangled digital auto-scorer kept shorting us pins, though. Eventually I gave up on it and just borrowed a pencil and some paper and kept score myself. It brought back a whole raft of memories, since once upon a time I had been the captain of my high school bowling team.
And let me tell you, what a chick magnet position that was.
Sorry. Had to step out for a minute and catch my breath. I crack me up sometimes.
We were a motley crew of misfits, as befit a high school bowling team. Leon was roughly spherical and once bounced a ball of the coach’s foot. Charlie came up to my belt buckle. Ramin was a giant but preferred to persuade pins to fall down rather than knock them over by force. Vicki could knock pins down by glaring at them. Mike once shaved off half of the hair on his head – facial and otherwise – for a Halloween costume. The left half, as I recall. Al took so many steps before letting go of the ball that we nicknamed him “The Ballerina” and questioned his manhood, which was pretty rich coming from us. And so on.
We would practice every Tuesday at the lanes near my house and compete on Wednesdays at a rundown bowling alley that wasn’t in anyone’s school district but had the advantage of being right next to one of the bigger public transportation hubs in the area. Not every school district thought the bowling team was worth providing transportation for. Hey – it got me out of the last ten minutes of health class, and for that alone it was worthwhile.
As captain of the team it was my prerogative to keep score, which was a task I always enjoyed. It was fun to see the numbers go up and be able to keep track of things as they were happening. Plus it meant I was forever hunched down behind the overhead projector that sent our scores up to the screens overhead and thus was protected from the occasional bowling ball that would come flying backward when someone lost their grip.
You cannot imagine how quickly bowlers – a sedentary breed in most situations – can move under the right circumstances.
There were eight teams in our league and I got to know the other scorekeepers fairly well. One in particular was a favorite of mine because he had roughly the same sense of humor I did. There was no way for that to end well.
After one particularly dull game, for example, we decided that the next game would be scored using Roman numerals.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to fit all those letters into those tiny little boxes using a grease pencil?
We made it into the fourth frame before the coaches noticed and put an end to it. Which was a shame, since we had agreed that the next game would be scored in ancient Egyptian numerals, a system that for some reason both of our school districts had seen fit to teach us in sixth grade and which we, being consummate nerds, had remembered.
I don’t know if they’ve gotten around to teaching Tabitha and Lauren how to work with Roman numerals. I’m not even sure why they would, other than the fact that they’re kind of cool and they make you respect Roman civilization that much more.
You know all those roads, aqueducts, colisea and bridges they built? All of that had to be engineered. Using Roman numerals. Have you ever tried to multiply in Roman numerals?
But adding is fairly simple, and some day perhaps I will teach them how to keep score in bowling using them. It will make the fact that they’ve beaten me a little less obvious at first glance.