Journey to Ukazoo
Slide 27: Bowling
Heading south from St. Ignace, Michigan on Route 75, I arrived at a wonderful little Bed & Breakfast in Bowling Green, Ohio. The week progressed by becoming very good friends with innkeepers, Nancy and Jake, and at weeks end they invited me to join them for bowling Saturday night.
Saturday night’s bowling was not a league but by the number of friends and acquaintances that arrived and divided into friendly 5 person teams, it certainly had a league feel. I, tagging along with Jake and Nancy, was included on their team. As with most bowling jaunts I’m accustom to, everyone usually bowls two to three games/sets and this night was a three gamer.
During the third and final set, our team started out the first three frames with either strikes, spares, or open frames with no discernible difference from the first two games. It was the completion of Frame Four that drew our attention to Jake’s fourth consecutive strike and while being no slouch to bowling, this was still a first for him. When Jake rolled another strike in the fifth frame, customary strike/spare high fives displayed an added dose of enthusiasm .
Jake’s strike in Frame Six drew some rubber-necking attention from the neighboring lanes and an attentive hush overtook our team as he took the boards and rolled a strike in the seventh frame. Whispers spread of the looming possibly of a perfect game and ‘waiting their turn’ idle bowlers gravitated to watch as Jake rolled a strike in Frame Eight. As Jake readied for the ninth frame the other lanes now noticeably paused. As the pins were hit, one last pin unnervingly teetered, inciting a bit of drama, then as it finally fell, strike nine fueled more high fives and cheers from the growing crowd.
As Jake approached the boards for Frame Ten, he was now three strikes away from a perfect game. Quiet spread around the entire Bowling Alley, first ball, a strike, and silence held. As soon as the pins were reset and Jake toweled down his returned ball, he settled into his oft repeated stance. With the second strike, a tense concentrated silence remained intact , and again Jake picked up the returned ball and inhaling deeply he positioned himself for the final roll.
I took this picture just as Jake was releasing the ball and by the burst of light from the flash, I realized my finger had mistakenly moved the flash button to “on”. The flash startled Jake, his hand did a twist and the ball rolled to the right and into the gutter as did the hopes and dreams of his perfect game.
Besides the crushing look of disappointment on Jake’s face, there were a lot of angry bowlers. Calls for me to be strung up from the highest beam, throw me down the lane to see if they could get a strike with my head, or cart me off to the nearby zoo and feed me to the alligators, were some of the friendlier suggestions. I have never felt as bad in my entire life as I did then, but Jake, as a friend, interceded, quickly stepping between me and fifty or so angry blowers.
A certain calmness was restored but not the pained feelings I now harbored.
Several of Jake’s friends and a few other prominent bowlers got together and discussed how this should be resolved. They decided, since this wasn’t league nor TV fanfare, and the “Flash”, no different an interruption as a loose board popping up or falling ceiling tile to disrupt a throw, they weren’t opposed to a one-roll do-over, but there was a stipulation. If Jake didn’t roll a strike for the 300 game, I was on the hook to buy everyone on our team an in-house dinner and drinks.
Jake rolled the final strike to the sound of an uproarious audience of bowlers as he got his first ever perfect game.
Still feeling remorseful, I offered to still pick up the tab for a round of food and drinks which was readily accepted. By the first bite, the fast-becoming memorable story now elicited several laughs, allowing my mood to ease up a little. A few fellow bowlers walked over and presented me with a trench coat and was playfully instructed “but no flashing”.
I smiled, funny guys, these bowlers.
All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt
Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.
New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis.