Tuesday, September 20

How bowling shaped my life

There isn't going to be any sewing going on tonight or any Tuesday night until May.  My bowling league has started up again and I'm happy for it.  I am in a 5 pin bowling league, it's a Canadian version of bowling.  Scores are higher (perfect game is 450 vs 300 for 10 pin), the pins have different values (5+3+3+2+2), the balls are smaller but it also means that you need to be more precise on where the ball goes to take them all out without punching the headpin.  Wikipedia has a good entry, although there are one or two terms I don't use (clean game, full set, and I'd be more likely to say a 5 bagger for 5 strikes than a 5 pack, could be regional differences).

I grew up bowling, Dad registered my brother S and I when he was old enough, so I was maybe 8 and he was 5.  Bowling and swimming were the two things I was fairly good at, and my dad took us for public swims but he couldn't really coach me on flip turns and butterfly.  Bowling is really our bonding sport.  As a teen, I wanted my dad with me at tournaments, it was almost weird when my mom came for provincials.  This was a Dad-Daughter thing in my mind.  I am just 5' and a half inch, I've always been one of the shortest in the class and easily intimidated.  Dad would shake me out of my nerves quietly making fun of other people so I didn't see them as threatening.  Tall girls became "Amazon Woman" and I'd end up giggling instead of feeling scared at the approach.  It's maybe not great to teach your kids it's okay to make fun of people, but it sure worked for me and I felt powerful when I could get over my nerves and bowl better than them.

Dad stopped bowling at one point, I think it's mostly because of money.  Single income and 3 kids resulted in a lot of compromise in my house growing up.  It worked out to being more time with him for me because my brothers were in scouting that night, so it was just he and I to hang out.  Dad went back to bowling while I was in university, it was an easy way to start a conversation before he would assume I wanted to talk to mom (and why do fathers do that?  yes, I want to talk to her, but you can chat with me before passing the phone in 2.3 seconds).  As soon as I knew I'd be living in the same place and have enough income (it's a long season) to do it, I went back.  He got into the habit of phoning me on Wednesdays at work to see how I did. 

My parents actually met because of bowling.  I love this story so I will share.  My mom was going on a date with Warren.  She wasn't keen on him, conversation was mostly about work (teachers) and he didn't seem to appreciate her.  Still, she went out with him Dec 6, 1970.  It was busy and they were seated at a table by the exit.  My mom was struggling off and on with tonsillitis, she had them removed that January, and asked if they could be seated where it wasn't so drafty (this is Toronto in December).  They said they had no empty tables, but a gentleman was planning on leaving soon and was willing to share his table, if that was okay with them.  Mom said sure, it's not drafty, and there was my Dad.  He was stopping in for a drink prior to his bowling league Christmas party (he didn't make it).  My mom bowled, different league, but it was something to talk about other than teaching.  Get this, my mom won a tournament the year before, the prize being a trip to Montreal on the train, tickets to a Habs game, for a nominal fee you could go again the year after you won and she was planning on doing that.  Dad won the tournament that year, but the only reason he wanted to go was for the hockey game.  He grew up south of Montreal, the city wasn't that exciting to him.  Mom  danced with both men, Dad was sneaky and wrote his number in her matchbook and made sure her cab got her home safe.  She woke up to flowers and a proposal when she had her tonsils removed in January.  They got married that July.  My dad still has the ticket to the Christmas party he never attended and he brings her flowers every December 6th.  He's such a romantic who is still completely in love with my mom. 

Bowling also caused me to grow my hair. 

One December after the "Family Twosome" (kids bowl with parents, me with Dad, S with Mom, A was too little that year) we went out for dinner.  The washrooms were in the basement (really, this will tie into hair cuts).  We get there and S goes to the bathroom.  Then my youngest brother needs to go, Mom sends S down with A because he knows the way.  Then after all the drink refills (Chinese multicourse meal, time has passed), S goes back down to the bathroom.  Finally, my parents are settling the bill and I go downstairs, looking for the ladies room.  There was a hall in the basement and someone sweeping up.  He says "Wow, you go to the bathroom a lot" and I think, I haven't even made it there.. my eyes widen as I realize, he thinks I'm S...  Then he asks if I have a twin...  Sigh.  I was so crushed.  He thinks I looks 8 instead of 11, he thinks I'm a boy, he thinks I'm my brother, eeeewwww...  In his defence, we were both wearing the same orange shirt from bowling.  S and I got opposite genes so he's tall and I'm short.  This was his full height of 6' in Grade 8 where I topped out at 5' and a half inch.  At the time, he was probably the same height as me or just surpassing me.  Here is a picture of us from last year and our brothers wedding, I've got 2" heels on here.

Back to 1986, S had that 80's rat tail/near mullet look and I had short hair 'cuz I still went to Savvy's barber shop with Dad for hair cuts and Dad liked it short (still does).  It was the day, the specific moment, I decided to grow my hair.  It was a long time before I went downtown with Dad because that usually meant a visit to Savvy's and I didn't want to risk a boy hair cut ever again.

Who knew bowling could have so many life altering events associated with it?

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