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Thursday, December 02, 2010

20 Bowling Personas

Photo: Jonathan Keelty
I've been bowling with a group of guys every Monday night for nine years. You both see, and do, a lot of funny things in those nine years together.

Just so it doesn't sound like I'm making fun of the following list of 20 bowling personas I've witnessed, let me tell on myself.

During those nine years, I have bowled on the wrong lane a couple of times, threw my share of gutter balls, slammed a Styrofoam cup of Diet Pepsi on the table in frustration – causing the cup to break and pop to go everywhere, and bowled a 297 game while not even reaching a 600 series that night. I am also sweatpants guy. I can't imagine bowling in jeans or dress pants.

With all of that said, here's the list of 20 bowling personas you might see on any given night:

1. Shorts guy: This guy bowls in shorts year round, even when the temperature drops below zero. I understand wanting comfort, but not at that cost.

2. Backward surfer guy: After he releases the ball, he begins to surf backward – arms extended, unsteady on his feet, attempting to direct the ball with this awkward body english. I'm always afraid this type of guy is going to fall or drift into my lane when I'm in the middle of my delivery.

3 Spider-Man guy: Two weeks ago, we bowled against a guy who would release the ball, go down on one knee and do all sorts of hand motions in celebration every time he struck. During one such instance, he turned his palms toward the sky and pretended to shoot spider webs out of his wrists, a la Spiderman – only I think he believed he was shooting lighting bolts instead.

4. One-handed delivery guy: This type of bowler will not touch the ball with his non-delivery hand during any point in his set up or delivery. Why? I have no idea, but it makes for good conversation.

5. Leaning Tower of Pisa guy: He releases his ball and leans one direction or the other, believing his body has a direct connection to the ball and it will obey. When I bowl next to these guys I'm always afraid he is going to lean across my lane, creating a collision that would not be pretty.

6. Towel over shoulder guy: He's confident in his bowling ability and you can see it every time he slings his towel over his shoulder. I've never seen a bad bowler who does this.

7. Two lane courtesy guy: He's convinced he's on ESPN and therefore deserving of at least a two lane courtesy, preferably though, you will give him four lanes – to which I'm always thinking, "Dude, this is a Monday night bowling league and your average is 156. Just bowl." 

8. Backward hat guy: This guy is serious about bowling, but that doesn't mean he is good. Unlike when you face towel over shoulder guy, you can't tell if you are going to be demolished that night or not by simply looking at him.

9. I got ripped guy: He's convinced that every time his ball comes close to the head pin, every pin should fall, every time. 

10. Phone on belt clip guy: I don't know how in the world this guy ever delivers the ball without coming into contact with his phone, sending it halfway down the alley, but he's skilled at avoiding his phone. I've never seen one of these guys make contact with his phone on his delivery. That's impressive.

11. I won't look at splits guy: So, the I got ripped guy buries one in the pocket, or so he thinks, but he's left with the 8-10 split. I won't look at splits guy, who is bowling next to him, turns his back on the split in disgust. He will not bowl next to such a mess no matter how many stares other bowlers who want to be home by 9:30 pm give him.

12. The stand and watch his shot guy: He releases his shot and he's afraid he's going to miss something, so he stands at the line for five seconds after his ball has made contact and all the pins that are going to fall have fallen, just in case an earthquake hits and knocks the rest of the pins down.

13. The can't wait his turn guy: You are standing on the in-between step waiting for one of the guys next to you to bowl, hoping he won't be a backward surfer guy, Spiderman guy, Leaning Tower of Pisa guy, or stand and watch his shot guy and when it's your turn to go, a guy on your other side walks right by you, picks up his ball and stands on the approach – all because he can't wait his turn, something he should have learned in kindergarten.

14. The yell a teammate's name guy: This guy is usually drinking pretty heavily and he gets louder as the night goes on, yelling the first name of teammates from the back of the alley every time they release a shot. "TOOOOOMMMMMM."

15. The unsolicited teacher guy: "You're not following through. When you release the ball, slap yourself in the forehead with the palm of your hand. That way you'll make sure you are following through." Ummm, okay, but who are you and why do you care if I bowl better or not? 

16. The punch the machine guy: He's usually an I got ripped guy, although not every I got ripped guy is a punch the machine guy. The punch the machine guy throws what he believes should be a strike and since he got ripped he is going to take it out on the ball return or the scoring monitor. Then he's going to visit the ER.

17. The cranker for the sake of crank guy: He can put a lot of spin on the ball and he wants you to know it, so he puts 9 million revolutions of spin on the ball per square foot. Of course, he has no idea where the ball is going, but at least the ball is spinning and he's pretty sure you are going to be impressed.

18. The throw the ball as hard as possible guy: His backswing says it all. He winds up so he can throw the ball through the back of the bowling alley with hopes that it'll still have enough juice to make it down Main Street so everyone can marvel at his power. He is bowler; hear him roar.

19. The scowl faced guy: He might be mistaken for ultra competitive guy, but competitiveness might not be his motivation. He could be looking to pick a fight or he could be the victim of the hot dog that has been circulating on the wire dispenser all day.

20. Ultra competitive guy: Combining elements of Spiderman guy, two lane courtesy guy, I got ripped guy, I won't look at splits guy, can't wait his turn guy, yell at teammates guy, unsolicited teacher guy, punch the machine guy, scowl faced guy and maybe a couple of others, he talks trash within ear shot of his opponents. He pumps his fist every time he strikes. And he is often the loudest guy in the place. Bowling is life and life is bowling.


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