I like sameness. I like routine. I like knowing that things I knew when I was five are still the way they are today. With that being said it was a complete shock to go bowling last night when it wasn't the bowling I'm used to.
Growing up I was a religious watcher of the Professional Bowlers Tour so from an early age I knew what bowling was. I can remember all the Sunday afternoons after church that my dad would take me to Raceway Lanes in Indianapolis. That was bowling. Last night, however, I went to a bowling alley and things sort of felt the same; the alley was the same length, the usual bowling alley smell was there, and at the end of the lane were 10 pins. The balls on the rack though weren't the sizes or weights I remembered and the pins weren't like anything I have ever seen before. I was miles away from what these bowlers call "ten-pin" (or as I kept saying, "real bowling") as I was in a candlepin lane.
Everything I knew about bowling was wrong in this alley. There were no finger holes as the ball is very small. There is no sweep of the lane after each shot so the pins that have fallen remain on the lane, and each frame consists of three shots.
Also different was the expectation of score. My average in real, ahem, ten-pin bowling is just a hair under 200 and I have achieved perfection, a 300, once in league. In candlepin the highest score ever bowled, and it's happened twice, is a 245.
"Okay, so maybe it's more difficult," I thought to myself "but bowling is bowling, right?" In the first frame I walked confidently up the approach and unleashed a shot that looked good... if it was a race to the gutter. My 2nd shot took out the 7 pin and my 3rd shot took out the 10 pin. Ryan's first frame was much better as he left the 7-10 split and proceeded to pick it up using the deadwood that was left because the lane isn't swept. Okay, I'll admit that his spare looked rather awesome.
Frame after agonizing frame happened and no matter how hard I tried the ball just wouldn't find the center of the lane. I'm used to marking each frame, a strike or a spare, but here, over three games, I only had one spare. Of the five of us that went there was only one strike over three games! I don't know if that shows how difficult that this seemingly impossible sport is, or that it proves that candlepin bowling is simply a way to torture one's self.
By the 2nd game I thought I had it, but I lost it instantly and the same thing happened in the 3rd game, which was my highest score at a staggering low score of 72. Well, staggering low because I'm used to high triple digits. I'm used to turkeys, and "ham-bones" not spread eagles and Half Worcesters. I'm used to going into every league night with the hopes and dreams of rolling another 300 and not hoping that my shot at least hits something on the lane.
It was a certainly a different experience and one that I will remember for quite some time. Will I remember this experience of candlepin fondly? Yeah, about as much as one remembers the last time they had the flu as this was the most frustrating sport I ever took part in and I can't wait to go real bowling again!