Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunglasses Experiment At Bowling

It may not have been a month like my original Sunglasses Experiment but I was just as excited to do this three hour run through as I was back in July. I must admit I was a bit nervous as I did not know how anyone would react to a person wearing sunglasses indoors, much less at a bowling alley.

My routine was well off normal today and I got to the alley much later than normal (I am usually 50 minutes early, today I was 15). This made me nervous as I like my routine and I was very concerned that this difference in schedule would somehow change the way my mental state was. It did not however as I was so focused on what the evening would be like. The only thing that was missed out on because of being late at being early was that my weekly crossword puzzle was left empty.

As soon as practice began I got out the sunglasses and put them on. I had to remind myself to breathe because I was so sure that someone would yell at me or think I was odd. I've never seen someone bowl with sunglasses on so this was big step. A person could think I was making some sort of fashion statement (I wasn't) or that I was trying to rebel (I most certainly was not).

I couldn't believe it as these reflective sunglasses only got one comment. There is a bowler on the team I am on who is a retired news anchor and he asked what these sunglasses were about. I happily told him why and what I was doing and I think he found it interesting, but I have to say bowling with him is such an honor because this man knows almost everything there is to know about anything.

Once practice ended I thought back to just one week ago and the issues that came from getting near the approach. Would I have the same fears? I knew one thing and that was eye contact would be negated, but in what fashion?

In the first frame of the first game I got up to bowl and rolled a strike. At this point in time I was sure I would get some odd looks from other bowlers, but I was invisible. I found this odd because I am sure people will notice little things like I notice because, "If I do it you do too, right?" but, like myself, so many people are in their own little world within the universe of the bowling alley.

The sunglasses were off to a great start as the first four frames all were strikes. When there were times when I would be ready to bowl at the same time other bowlers were even more aware of me than when I didn't wear the sunglasses. Why was this? I have to go back to an experience I had at Steak n Shake when, while I was wearing the sunglasses, a person kept talking to me as I had no way of showing him that I wasn't looking at him. Once again, tonight, I learned that I use the lack of eye contact as a way to protect myself of the intrusion of others. Granted, eye contact itself is difficult as the amount of input that enters the brain is too much, but also avoiding eye contact is a way to avoid conversations.

In fact, when I say the other bowlers were more aware of me, I had a next to impossible time getting someone else to bowl if they got to the approach ahead of me. It was almost a reversal of roles as I now was in the position of power being hidden behind my glasses, or at least that's how it felt. I may change my mind once I have had more time to thing about it, but right now I believe that, since others could not see my eyes, I was more normal to them. I mean, if I am always looking past a person, or away from them then they will know something is not normal. It may never cross their minds as to what, but just something. Tonight the only thing they saw in my eyes were themselves (because they are reflective sunglasses. Sorry, couldn't resist that play in words).

I suffered a nasty 5th frame as I threw a great ball only to be rewarded with leaving the nine pin. The next frame saw me throw a horrible ball that only knocked down three pins. From this point on I was trying to find the shot that I had to begin with and would not find it until the 10th frame of the final game. For the three game my score came out to be just over 600 (first game was a 241).

While I may have not had a career best night in terms of scoring, I did enjoy bowling more so than I have in a long time. The world is a darker place with my sunglasses on (literally, not figuratively) and with that the amount of input is lowered. Loud teams didn't bother me as much nor did the sound of the constant barrage of bowling pins. After loving bowling from an early age I grew to accept the chaos that is a bowling alley, but it is something I have to deal with to fight the urge to just go home and find a quiet room.

I think another reason why I enjoyed bowling so much was I didn't have to worry about offending a person on my team should they be talking to me. Most of the time, instead of making eye contact, I would concentrate on another person bowling. This worked great so long as it was a person on our team, but there are times when no one is up and this defense proves to be futile, but with the sunglasses I could look in their direction without looking at them.

Was the one night usage a success? I would say yes and I plan on wearing my sunglasses next week as well. I want to learn more on if my thought that people notice me more is true. I mean, if most communication is non-verbal and the eyes are the way it is done most then maybe having the sunglasses on is a unique way to work the system. But then again, I have no way to show a person I am not interested, or am uncomfortable.

I also am interested to see how long it takes someone else to ask me what I am trying to prove by wearing sunglasses. If that happens I will gladly tell them, but until then I am content to minimize my exposure to the world and I will enjoy this while it lasts.

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