January 22, 2001

Murphy's auto-noise law applies to bowling, too

Josh Renaud

Ever had a car that was making funny noises? You take it to the repair shop and sit with the mechanic inside the car. You start it up, and wait expectantly, so you can let the mechanic hear for himself the noise that's troubling you.

More often than not, your stupid car will be nice and quiet. You'll smile weakly at the mechanic and mutter "It ALWAYS does it. I don't know what to say!" and then return home frustrated.

I have that experience, but with bowling instead of cars.

You see, I've grown up bowling. My mother's parents were always big bowlers. They played in leagues on the military base in San Antonio. Every time we visited them, we could count on spending at least one afternoon bowling.

At home, we would bowl every once in a while, too. I envied my Papa and my Dad. While I only knew how to throw the ball straight, they both threw these wicked hooks and had a knack for racking up high scores.

Over the years, I got stronger, but I never changed my straight-ball ways. I began bowling socially with my friends from school. We didn't play regularly, but my average rose, anyway. I would usually throw around a 110 or 120.

And that's when my "noisy car" experiences started. Occasionally, I had some really good games. I bowled as high as the 140s and even the 150s. But these games always happened with friends. When I went bowling with the family, I could never bowl that well.

I didn't believe it was a psychological thing, and I still don't. But for some reason, I do bowl better with friends. When I joined the staff of The Current, I heard about their bowling nights. It took me a year, but finally I started playing with them.

It was the first time I had ever bowled regularly. Bowling night was Tuesday, every week. While I was very consistent, it did help my game. Over time, I threw new record high games: 172 and 184.

Last week, I did something I never dreamed I would ever do. I broke the 200 barrier and threw a 207.

Two hundred is a big number in bowling. That plateau is what separates the really good players from the beginners. It's the number that always awed me when my dad would bowl.

Now that I've achieved it, I'm not sure I'll be able to repeat it any time soon. But I also know that the next time I bowl with my family, I'll be trying my darnedest to break that plateau. I want to show my dad something besides a score sheet. And with any luck, the car will actually make some noise this time.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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