I know you’re all wondering, so I’ll put your inquisitive souls to rest: It’s 267.
That’s my personal best bowling game. In the wake of Oregon freshman AJ Nordman’s gem, I thought I’d share my one and only bona fide story of sorrow to get across just how difficult it is to achieve perfection in bowling.
Those of you who don’t blindly dismiss the bowling as a sport likely already know how tough it is, but I’m writing this blog entry, anyway.
My only true brush with the beast came on a bone-chilling Tuesday morning at Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in – that’s right, diehards – the technical home of your Green Bay Packers.
I’d just earned myself a ticket for my inability to follow the traffic laws of one of those innovative roundabout contraptions and, thus, was in a foul frame of mind heading into a morning with the Green Bay area’s finest second- and third-shift keglers.
But a Bloody Mary and nine strikes later, let’s just say my mood had improved. They weren’t all pocket strikes. Heavens, no. There were even a couple of Brooklyns in the mix. I apologize for nothing.
Somehow, on my wobbly, gelatin knees, I managed to will the first ball of the 10th into the pocket. My luck had run out, as I watched a solid 10 not so much as wiggle.
To add insult to injury, my single-pin spare attempt came as close to knocking down Mr. 10 as possible without completing the feat. One would’ve thought the wind it generated in passing the pin would’ve been enough. If both the pin and ball were, say, on molecule wider, I would’ve had a shot at a consolation-prize 279.
While dozens of bowlers who’d flocked over to Lanes 9 and 10 offered their condolences, I stood and stared for a while, not necessarily in disappointment, but awe. Wes Anderson fans, think of the scene in “The Life Aquatic” in which Steve Zissou first encounters the tiger shark. Both of us knew we might never see our respective glorious beast again.
The big difference between me and Stevie Z is that his moment was one of introspection, knowing he was in the twilight of his career as a documentarian. I’m honestly not sure what the average bowler’s prime is, but I’m certain I could still reach mine. Let’s just say it’s not tennis.
That brings us back to AJ. When I checked in with the Hawk boys during the preseason, his dad and coach, Al, said A.J. would be his biggest challenge, on account of his ADD. But what’s been glaring for some time now – he’s won two junior-high state titles – is that the kid has enormous talent.
Evidence to both AJ’s biggest challenge, as well as the fickle nature of stone-rolling, is that, despite his perfecto, he won the NIBC individual title by a single pin.
He’s going to need to be steadier to stay in his dad’s lineup Saturday. The sectional meet is a grueling, a six-game marathon spanning upwards of 6 hours. But if AJ showed nothing else last Saturday, he let us know he’s mentally tough enough to some pretty incredible things.
I can tell you, it takes some minerals to roll 12 stones, in consecutive, so well. The last three? They might as well be boulders.