I used to bowl semi-professionally - on the birthday party circuit - when my children were younger.
It seemed they were always being invited to bowling birthday parties when they were in elementary school. From middle school on up, they were invited to the cooler version, "Cosmic Bowling," which adds another layer of entertainment in the form of flashing disco lights and blasting music videos. In the adult world, this is known as "Migraine Bowling."
Frequently at these events, I'd end up reserving a lane a few down from the birthday party and bowl with the other parents who had drop-off and pick-up duty.
I'd like to say I enjoyed myself, but it always took a supreme effort for me to get over the shock of how long my feet looked in rented bowling shoes. I suppose the two-toned cranberry-and-forest leathers might look quirky or cute on child-size feet. But I was always freshly embarrassed by the sight of those laced-up flats elongating my already expansive size 9s.
Whenever it was my turn, I'd walk up to the lane guide markers and position myself with confidence, my bowling ball poised in my right hand. But just when I'd draw my arm back, ready to release the ball down the lane, I'd be thwarted by the sight of my own feet. These two garish pieces of striped taffy would flop-flop their arrival in my peripheral vision, announcing: "Hey, everybody, look! Bozo's bowling!"
In that brief moment, I'd get distracted and think, "Honestly! Could they have come up with a shoe design that more dramatically accentuates the length of the foot?" And then I would invariably release the ball prematurely with a sort of high-bounce toss that made the attendant come running, admonishing me never to do that again, ever.
Clearly, due to my extreme awkwardness about the look of my feet in bowling shoes, I was never quite able to reach my bowling potential on the birthday party circuit.
Ah ha, you are saying: It is the poor athlete who blames her equipment. And yet the Janet's World Research on Goofy Required Athletic Gear indicates that if your equipment does not say nimble, sleek, powerful and driven, it's likely your performance won't, either. I learned this in high school, when I had to change into a gym suit for physical education. The gym suits were pale yellow, camp-shirt-collared, snap-down belted dresses with voluminous matching bloomers underneath. It was more like a costume; missing an apron, perhaps, or a feather duster. It was an athletically crippling ensemble. I always had the nagging feeling I was better suited to serve hors d'oeuvres in it than volleyballs.
But my point is, equipment affects the attitude, which affects the performance. Understandably, I was not all excited to attempt bowling again, even video game bowling. But my son has the new Nintendo video game Wii Sports Resort with Wii Motion Plus, a controller device that more precisely mirrors human motion in three-dimensional space. Still, I thought I might have to change into some ridiculous garb that would psych me out.
Surprisingly, you can play Wii bowling in bare feet, platforms or work boots. You can wear your business suit or your bathing suit. Plus, you never get stuck with the 40-pound bowling ball with finger holes the size of mature cucumbers, or the little pastel one with finger holes the size of baby carrots. It's very empowering, even liberating.
Not to brag, but currently I'm the family high-scorer in bowling. I've moved on to Wii Archery now, and I'm fairly competitive. Best of all, my confidence is up, and I think I'm ready to leave the virtual bowling alley, and go back and try the real one.
Just for good luck, I'm going to wear my gym suit.