When David and I first started dating, he took me bowling, just assuming that I knew how to do it.
He had an awful lot to learn about me.
I don’t do sports. I don’t participate in sports. I don’t know how. And even if I did know how, I couldn’t do whatever is required. My body is pretty much not going to cooperate in any sport I attempt.
The first D I ever got in school was in PE (physical education). My PE teacher was a very unreasonable woman who truly believed that everyone was capable of everything. It didn’t help that the Olympics were that year and televised for the first time ever. The whole nation had been glued to the TV to watch these little pixies run across the floor and jump, spin and gracefully hit the floor with a series of somersaults.
This is what my teacher forced upon us. Oh, come on! If my performance or lack thereof was not enough to rethink her notion that everyone is an Olympian athlete, she must have been on the fringes of mental illness. I felt like I was smack dab in the middle of mental illness after trudging through her class. At least I wasn’t alone; most of the class regularly disappointed her.
That was in 9th grade. When I got to 10th grade, my PE teacher was wonderful. She knew just by looking at me that I wasn’t going to be doing any gymnastics, so she gave me and several others easier things to do. I got an A in her class. Bless her heart, she’d give you an A if you showed up, dressed out (put on the dumb PE suit, a giant, green onesie), and put forth an honest effort.
But back to David and bowling and the ridiculous notion that I knew anything about it.
I guess you can’t really blame David. He practically grew up in a bowling alley. His mother had the highest female average in the southeast for two years running along with all kinds of other trophies and ribbons.
David himself won lots of tournaments. He impressed me just by having his own bowling ball and shoes. And, boy, could he throw that ball down the alley. He threw it more than rolled it. His mother said he was showing off for me. It worked. I was duly impressed.
After he had gone through his repertoire of fancy moves and had seen the adoration in my eyes, he decided to teach me how to bowl. So he carefully selected a ball for me, which I thought was way too heavy – actually, I thought they were all way too heavy – and I changed into icky shoes that 4,000 other people had worn before me.
He took me to the farthest lane against the wall so I wouldn’t be as distracted and showed me where to stand and how to hold the ball and how to line it up with where I wanted to throw it and how to take a few steps and how to let go of it. Easy-peasy. Well, maybe for you, but not for me. As I recall, I threw a gutter ball, the first of many. David looked at me in disbelief.
“Let’s do it again,” he said, in a tone I wouldn’t call encouraging.
So he got me all lined up, repeated all the directions, let me go, and I threw another gutter ball, this time on the other side.
David couldn’t believe it. How could this have happened? He had given me all the right information – twice! – so why was I not at least keeping it between the gutters?
I was oblivious to how important bowling was for him, what it meant to him and to his family. I looked at it as just a game. So I really wasn’t very concerned that I couldn’t do it. Actually, I would have been more surprised if I had hit any of those pins way down on the other end of the lane.
Before I could do anymore damage to our budding relationship, David’s mother came to the rescue. She gave bowling lessons, so she was used to klutzes like me who would nearly get their thumb stuck in the wrong hole.
I eventually became semi-competent at the game. It was obvious that that was as far as I was capable of going. Which was fine with me.
I still thought the ball was too heavy.