Whoever invented bowling must have had a bit of a sadistic streak. Or people who bowl have masochistic streaks. Not sure which is more true – maybe both in equal measure!
Last weekend I joined my daughter, her boyfriend, two of their friends and Dave at the Pleasant Valley Plaza’s newly renovated and updated bowling alley for an hour of shear humiliation. We were there to celebrate Bizz’s birthday and in 15 frames I managed one spare. But the gutter was by far the most prevalent path my shots took. The week before, my two-year-old granddaughter got a better score than I did.
|Dan, Al, Maike, Me and Dave at the Pleasant Valley Plaza. |
And, no, Dave's not really the Stig!
Mind you, it’s been at least 12 years since I last donned a pair of those lovely blue and red shoes and stepped up to an approach to a bowling lane. I’m relatively sure that I at least was able to break 100 back then, but I can’t be positive. That may be why I haven’t bothered going back.
Bowling has never been a game that I’ve had any particular fondness for. Sports, in general, are not my forte and bowling skills are not at the top of my achievement list. I get the theory. I understand the principals. I just can’t mesh them with my physical being.
Now for the confession...
I want to go back.
When I was a kid my parents used to take us bowling on Friday nights. The family sometimes went out for dinner first – not always, but sometimes we would pull into the A & W Drive-in for burgers and shakes and fries (Does that date me?) before stopping at the library to pick out books and then going on to hit the lanes. I remember looking forward to these outings with great anticipation, though I do think that the drive-in and library were my favourite parts. The memory of those Friday nights are fond ones and last weekend I was transported back to them. I haven’t thought about it in a long time.
The morning after I felt the ache of unfamiliar movements in my shoulders and legs. It’s funny how the simple act of rolling a ball can have that much effect. Clearly I either need to do it more, or give it up entirely. I’m pretty sure it is the camaraderie and not the game that is compelling me to want to incorporate bowling into my recreational activities. The encouragement we all showered upon each other was uplifting. The fact that I lost – badly – is moot in light of being together and having fun.
|Only moments away from another gutter ball!|
The Pleasant Valley Plaza (formerly known as the Rec Centre) has been undergoing a major transformation over the past year or so. New owners have been renovating it, breathing new life into what was once a hub of recreational activity in Houston. The face lift they have given the exterior has made it more inviting, a place that people now want to go to again.
The bowling alley has new computerized scoring consoles. The ball returns have been upgraded and there is less likelihood of smashed fingers now that the balls are caught and slowed down before they roll all the way up. The consoles are huge, though. They block the line of sight from the benches to the lanes, but I only figured that my bad shots were less noticeable. Gone are the hard plastic, orange and grey seats and in their stead are soft, curved benches that encourage conversation. The atmosphere is convivial. The country music must go, though.
I’m pleased to see the return of the bowling alley in Houston. It was great to see a group of teens there last night, having fun and not getting into trouble. There was a family group there, as well, enjoying an evening out together and later a couple came in for a few games. Our own little company of inexperienced and out-of-practice bowlers cheered and groaned and laughed for an hour amid them all. It felt good to be part of this resurrected recreation again.