Short post today; I love you (I do, really. Put this mask on.), but I have other writing to do.
So last night, I spoke to Twitter and said:
I love my new bowling ball. My new bowling ball hates me and is filing for a restraining order. I think I’ll name her ‘Carla’.
Yeah. I’m going to talk about bowling again.
As I’ve mentioned previously, my bowling game has improved quite a bit in the year since I got started in a league with some other gamer nerds in the area. Good times and steady improvement led to a pretty surprising second-place finish for the fall season. Our team was edged out of 1st place in a nail-biter of a final game, our salty tears diluted somewhat by the fact that Kate and I were first in the Most Improved categories for our respective genders and we both got second place in our “High Handicap Series” categories.
Oh, and the prize money. That helped too.
I decided to farm the filthy lucre back into the habit that spawned it and get myself a new bowling ball.
See, for the last 18 months or so, I’ve been using a ball generously given to me by Chris (the guy who got us into the league in the first place). It’s an old ball of his, drilled for both his hand measurements and for a ‘beginner’s’ grip. It’s a little beat up, and I have to kind of crook my thumb a bit to wedge it into its hole well enough, but… well, it works. It doesn’t do anything too fancy, but clearly I can make it hit the pins.
So why get a new ball? Well, I can turn in a very nice score with the Old Ball, but it doesn’t really let me do those fancy curving shots that you see the pro guys put out, and those fancy curving shots actually help the ball hit the pins in a way that makes it more likely they’ll fall down and go cracka-boom.
So I dug around a bit, and took some suggestions from Chris, and ordered up a nice new ball. It’s pretty. It does lovely curvy things. I named it Carla. You know, just in my head. As a joke. Totally a joke.
Before the new season started last night, I went in and got the ball drilled. Oh, shush: quit snickering.
Okay, fine: “I got new finger grips added to the ball.” Happy now?
The guy at the shop told me that he would allow no stinking beginner’s grip on a ball like that, so I drilled me up a ‘fingertip’ grip.
Which is fine; that’s kind of what I was expecting. When he was done, the ball was finally ‘finished’. Ready.
And damn she was pretty.
But there’s a saying in bowling: “Pretty balls don’t throw strikes.”
The ball curves, yeah. WAY more than I’m used to, but that hardly matters, cuz I can’t get the damn thing to come off my hand; that fancy fingertip grip basically means that everything I’ve trained myself to do with Old Ball is wrong wrong wrong. So wrong that I damn near hurt myself last night. I’m going to have to completely relearn how to play, pretty much from the ground up.
So after an abysmal first game (95 pins! Woo!) during which I threw more gutter balls than I think I ever have in a game, and air-balled a fifteen-pound hunk of stone more than I’d like to admit (encouraging many nearby bowlers to look around for the moron noob who didn’t know how to play), I put Carla back in my bag, mumbling something like “It puts the lotion on its skin…” and pulled out Old Ball. My security blanket. Security ball. Whatever. Shut up.
Old Ball didn’t fail me. The approach I used was simpler. Crude. Basic.
But the pins fell down and went cracka-boom.
Frustrating, to have the New Pretty Thing and to have to actually WORK before it produces… well, forget about ‘something better than the old ball’; I’ll be happy with ‘something comparable to the old ball’.
Is this about writing? It might be. I’m a pretty basic guy when it comes to putting words down. As Papa said “I know the 10 dollar words, but there are older words; better, simpler, and those are the ones I use.” Could be that the thing I’m working on right now also includes some fancy-schmancy tricks that I’ve seen used by writers I admire, and I thought “I can do that. How hard can it be? It’s just writing.”
So what happens to Carla now? Do I stick with Old Ball and my respectable-but-maybe-not-as-good-as-it-could-be game?
No. This weekend, I go to the lanes and I practice. A lot. First I figure out how to simply deliver the damn thing, then I’ll figure out how much that changes the roll, until finally, maybe, I’ll get the results I want. Practice practice practice. Lots of people throw tricky balls like mine; they do just fine, and dammit, they aren’t any better than me.
But last night I bought a bowling bag that holds two balls. Old Ball will never be very far away.
Sometimes you need old and simple and crude and ugly. I see no reason to give up the simple things that work, just because I’m working on a fancy new thing.
None at all.