I love to bowl. Not as much as some people that live for the alley life and kind of smell like alley all the time, but I do really like bowling. I am native to Wisconsin, therefore bowling, bratwurst, cheese, and beer are in my DNA. The Badger is the State Animal. Badgers are mean sunsabitches. I digress. Bowling is fun, because you do not have to be any good at it to enjoy it, and the smashing sounds of the pins going down is really therapeutic. Even the rattle of the ball shooting back from the ball return gives me a little thrill.

What I like most about bowling is that everyone does it a little differently. It is like dancing: each person has their own unique physical expression, be it elegant, manic, powerful, awkward, whatever. Go into a bowling alley, order up a brewski, and just observe sometime. It is quite amusing, and beautiful in its pseudo-sporting humanity.

There is a distinct difference between the male and female bowler. Males generally use much heavier bowling balls. There are two ways men throw these ponderous little orbs – clean and smooth, with the ball barely making a sound as it whips down the lane, or the Great Thunk, where the combination of the 15+ pound ball and some decent heft into the air from a reasonably-muscled man can seem like a small contained earthquake as the ball hits the lane after about 10 feet airborne. Bowling alley personnel often frown in the direction of Mr. Thunk, but he is also often Thunk Drunk, so it is a waste of facial muscle use. Mr. Smooth and Mr. Thunk, surprisingly, can get equally-good (or bad) bowling scores. This frustrates Mr. Smooth a lot, as he knows he has better form.

The young female bowler often will try to use the lightest and pinkest ball available, which is actually meant for a 4-year-old. Nonetheless, she will squeeze her fingers into it and giggle and wonder if her ass looks good as she is walking up to bowl. Many times, she will not put a lot of effort into her throw, simply choosing to walk up to the line and more or less drop the ball straight down, giggle again, and wait for the ball to fall into the gutter. The lighter balls that women use often take ages to make their way down to the pins, in which time you can eat a slice of pizza, play a game of pool, or flirt with the cute guy two lanes down. There are more-serious women bowlers, who pick a heavier ball (see, heavier ball = more serious and macho) and she often out-does Mr. Smooth, Mr. Thunk, and Miss Giggle, just by making a half-decent effort to aim the ball and wipe the pizza-grease off her fingers onto her jeans.

I do pretty well as a bowler, although inconsistent depending on how pissed I am at the crappy alley ball I have, how fast my right arm gets tired, and how much I feel like beating Mr. Smooth. I do, however, have seriously-demented bowling form. Actual strangers have pointed and laughed at me. I take more or less the proper amount of steps, swing the ball back with good force, but as I set the ball to roll, all of my weight is on my right side, with the right arm extended forward and my right foot holding together, somehow, this physics-defying construction. You are supposed to have your left foot out last, but I cannot do it. I have tried many times, and I either balk and lock up, or fall down. In my way of bowling, I end up looking like some odd listing flamingo with my rightness and left foot all up and tucked back. Try this sometime. Because you are normal, this will cause you to fall or at least have a good laugh at my expense. I love my bowling form. It says so much.

The only people I see that never look like they are having fun bowling are the pro bowlers, or those who fancy themselves pro-good. There he is, on an alley as far away from Flamingo Woman as possible, with his wrist guard and elbow guard and bowling glove and super-special cool ball and his custom orthotic bowling shoes and a little white personal towel to wipe his sweaty hands (no pizza or beer for him, thanks). He is deadly grim about his mission to leave no pin standing, no frame open. Strike after strike, his face registers no joy. It is impassive and hard-set at all times, even when the score screen has some dancing animated beer mug flashing, all excited about his efforts. If he happens to leave a single pin standing, his face becomes even that much more grim, and he picks it off, sharp and clean, like a BB-gun toting 12-year-old boy picks off his 7-year-old brother in the butt. I feel bad for Mr. Pro. There likely was a time he smiled when he bowled, until people told him he was really good. Sometimes people should shut up.

I bet you have not been bowling in a really long time. You should go. Gather up some fellow idiots, get your crappy alley balls, pepperoni pizzas and a pitcher of beer, and just enjoy watching each other, however wonderfully you all get the ball to the pins. I dare you to pinch Mr. Pro on the ass.