(I’ve put asterisks after a few words/phrases, and added a sort of glossary to the end.)

Tonight I left for work a bit early, and decided to bowl a game. I think the thing that separates bowlers from people who bowl sometimes is that bowlers just have an urge to move their arm. Even if there hadn’t been any pins, I’d have enjoyed just practicing throwing the ball.

But alas, there were pins. My first few frames, I was getting between seven and nine pins, but it was always an easy leave*, so I was able to convert them to spares. In the fourth frame, I’d ‘warmed up’ enough that I could hit my mark* consistently, and from there, it was just fine-tuning. My fourth frame was a strike, but in the fifth, I left the five-pin. (Center pin.) I had a couple more easy leaves.

As I entered the eighth frame, I was kind of depressed. I’d been having a clean game* so far, and yet I wasn’t even on pace to hit 200.

In the eighth, I managed a strike, albeit Brooklyn*. (Brooklyn isn’t necessarily bad, but since I wasn’t going for Brooklyn, it meant that I still didn’t have great accuracy.)

I ended up pulling four spares in a row. On my next ball, it didn’t hit quite right, and I ended up with a nasty split, I think the 2-6. Really advanced pros can pick something like that up fairly consistently, but for people a little less Godlike, it might as well have been the 7-10.

I kind of sighed, my clean game ended. But then I looked up at the monitor and realized my luck: it had been the third ball of my tenth frame. I didn’t have to pick it up. The game was over, still considered clean. (As I didn’t have an opportunity to pick it up, the fact that I surely couldn’t have picked it up is irrelevant.)

I ended up with a 217 game. Not something I can do consistently, but it’s certainly a “You can do it” pat on the back for me.

* Leave: Refers to the pins left after the first ball of a frame; an easy leave is one that is easy to pick up.

* Mark: Refers to a certain spot on the lane, such as one of the seven arrows about ten feet down the lane. Many bowlers prefer to look at these as opposed to looking sixty feet down the lane at the pins.

* Clean game: A full game in which each frame is filled with a mark (strike or spare), i.e. there are no open frames (frames that aren’t either a strike or spare). (A clean game isn’t necessarily a good game: in theory, you could have a clean game as low as 100 [zero on every first ball, 10 (spare) on the second].)

* Brooklyn: A strike on the ‘wrong’ side of the headpin. (As a right-handed bowler, I’d ordinarily go for the 1-3 pocket, so for me, a Brooklyn strike is when I hit in the 1-2 pocket and get a strike.)

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