Bowling with a ball? How quaint.

Some time ago, I mentioned that I once participated in a youth bowling league. This was around 1983, when I was eight-years-old and in second grade. I am still eight-years-old, but I have moved on a tiny bit in my education since then.

Anyway, I have only bowled sporadically since my time with the “Jedi Knights” (yes, that is really what we named our team back then). In fact, I would say I have probably bowled only a half-dozen times since then.

In those few times, the most recent being about seven years ago, I usually did okay – bowling in the 150 – 175 range. Nothing spectacular, but decent enough. I could even, on occasion, string three or four strikes together.

Because it is easier than going to an actual bowling alley (and mostly because you do not have to rent clown shoes), I have bowled many more games on Wii Bowling – which is a video game where you swing a glorified remote control towards your TV rather than an actual bowling ball.

One of my nieces turned three last weekend. Her party was at a bowling alley – in fact the exact same bowling alley where my league played over a quarter century ago. It looks totally different now, of course. For one thing, computers now do all of the scoring for you. I actually had to learn how to score back in second grade and hand write the totals on an overhead projector.

Also, that Star Wars video game that stole so many quarters from me is long gone. I do not miss the manual scoring, but it would have been cool to walk back into the game room and magically find the same 1983-vintage games. I would pay real money for that.

Anyway, I woke up the morning of my niece’s party and decided to “practice” a bit on the Wii. I think my best score that morning was a 185. So far, so good. I was ready!

At the actual bowling alley, where they expect you to use a real bowling ball, things turned out a little differently than I might have hoped.

My first frame was a spare. Hey, I can live with that. I soon started to notice an odd tendency, though. I would hit a strike on one frame, and then two gutter balls on the next. My niece was playing in her lane with bumpers up, so I started to wish I was playing over there.

By the time that first game was over, I had managed to score a meager 74 points. That was just a warm-up, though. Surely I would do much better on the second game.

After some happy-birthday-singing and present-opening, we started another game. Boom, gutter. In fact, I managed a string of seven gutter balls in a row – something I never once did as a second-grader (and there were no bumpers back then).

My score for most of that second game was 34. I managed a “comeback” in the final couple of frames and ended up with a 55. My average as a second-grader was around 100. I probably would have been kicked off the team with a 55.

You know, I am not so sure I like the public humiliation of bowling with a ball anymore. I think I will stick with the Wii from now on. At least then I can be embarrased in private, not to mention wear my own shoes.