In the early 1990′s, my husband, Tim, was the PGA Club Professional at a small, private club in Indianapolis. It wasn’t one of the ritzy clubs where you had to show your w-2 to be admitted but that also didn’t mean there weren’t some well-to-do members . They were varied in backgrounds but all very friendly and welcoming to the Pro and his wife.
The second year we were there, some of the members decided we needed a couples bowling league to help the interminable winter pass to spring more quickly. So, Sundays became bowling league day. Tim was very excited about this as he loves any and all sports — not just golf. I had participated in a league in my “pre-Tim” days and thought it sounded like fun. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I was a decent athlete in my own right.
The week of the first Sunday match, Tim and I prepared by going to the sporting goods store and buying bowling shoes and a couple of bowling balls. We purchased a bag for each of us and a couple of matching shirts. We were the Bobbsey Twins personified.
As the first Sunday approached, we anxiously awaited the pairings to be posted at the club. We had become good friends with a lot of the other couples and wanted to know which couple we would be pitted against that first week.
Tim called home on Saturday to tell me we were playing Bob and Helen. Great. This was the only couple I didn’t want to bowl with the first week. I liked them a lot but I wasn’t able to make time to practice and I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front them — why, you ask?
Bob wasn’t just a Robert. He was the Bob of “Bob & Tom”, the nationally syndicated morning radio show. He’s a great guy — funny, down to earth and just like “one of the guys” at the club — he didn’t want special treatment. However, it still made me a bit nervous.
That Sunday in January dawned cold and blowing. We took off for the bowling alley with all our new equipment, including my pretty purple bowling ball. Bob and Helen were already there when we arrived, practicing on our designated lanes. We did the pleasantries and then got down to practicing.
As Tim threw his first practice ball, I looked down the lanes and saw familiar faces all getting ready for their matches as well. We waved, shouted and laughed at each other in greeting. This wouldn’t be so bad after all.
I ended up throwing a spare on my two practice balls and decided to stop — no sense using up those good throws until the match started.
The order had Helen leading off. I would follow her, then Bob and then Tim. Helen got a respectable score for her first frame and I was up. For some reason, all at once, I was a wreck. Stage fright I guess. It felt like my stomach was up around the base of my throat and I was having a hard time swallowing. There was a ringing in my ears that had nothing to do with the arcade games next to the snack bar. I willed myself to calm down. I closed my eyes and visualized my pretty purple ball knocking down all those nasty red and white pins. I felt better.
I approached the line and took my stance. I pushed the ball forward and promptly forgot how to bowl. I couldn’t remember which foot I started with, how many steps to take or which foot to throw back behind me in my follow through. So, I just kept going…
I knew my mistake as soon as my foot landed over the foul line — it was as slick as snot. I took off down the alley with arms and legs flailing like Fred Flintstone trying to regain his balance and never quite making it. Somewhere halfway down the alley, both legs lost the ground simultaneously and I hit hard on my backside — head in the gutter.
My eyes were closed but I realized a hush had settled over the entire bowling alley. Before I opened my eyes, I took a quick inventory of my moving parts to make sure they were all in working order. Nothing felt broken so I opened my eyes to Bob standing over me, one foot in each gutter. He’s no dummy. Tim was right behind him.
“Are you okay?” Bob asked.
“I think so” I said.
He then threw his head back and let out a huge, and I mean huge roar of laughter. The entire bowling alley took this as an invitation and joined in.
I haven’t seen Bob in a number of years now, but I bet he’d remember me.
I put on quite a show.