With the moniker Duckpin, bowling was an obvious choice for this month’s team building outing. While this was not our first trip down the alley, it was our first trip as a team of 7. Welcoming a new Roller in January brought even higher stakes to the table. Did I mention he was a youth league bowler…with a plaque and a shiny gold nameplate? The gauntlet had been thrown.
Let me set the scene for you. This is not one of your modern day alleys with the fancy computerized screens, dimmer lights and movie screens playing music videos. Oh no, this is a classic haunt whose glory days ended in 1975, but is kept alive by the weekly leagues and randoms who migrate in and out of this hidden, below-street-level joint. The no-longer-functioning projectors look lIke a long distance relative of Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 and Wall•E, but with time have been abused and eventually unwired. Scoring is done by hand with a paper tally sheet and a teeth-marked #2 yellow pencil from Yore. The turquoise and white alternating fiberglass seats have held up well and provide the perfect backdrop for Insta pics. Acrylic flexy letters in mismatched colors (as are the bowling pins) line the front wall with names of league champs. While this place is not Xanadu, it’s our home turf.
We start off with 2 separate games of duckpin bowling. Some of us are the Roger Federer of the lane, and others are more like Roger Rabbit. “PWWWWEEAAASSSSEEEE, don’t go in the gutter again!” Apparently I like the gutter. The gutter is my safe place. No one can get me there…because their balls go where they are supposed to go. I also like to bowl, golf-style: lowest number wins! Eagles beat Turkeys any day, right?
Next we switched the teams up and have noticed scoring may be tilted depending on which lane you were on. Lane 1 had the disadvantage of being butted up against a wall and waxed to the max. Even Brian Boitano would have eaten it. Then we have the “cheater lane”. Lane 2’s gutter has a lip, so if you hit it at the perfect spot, you got a helpful ricochet that took you from a deserved zero to a possible strike. Apparently cheaters do, in fact, win.
For our final match we had just 15 minutes to spare before the “big boys” of the leagues arrived. This was clearly not enough time for a full game. To up the anti and make things exciting, we did what any reasonable person would do and decided to all go head-to-head with one ball per frame, per bowler. Speed round! The balls were a flyin’, people’s luck was running out, caution was thrown out the window (If there was one.). The pressure was on and it was anybody’s game. As the last ball was thrown we all learned a valuable lesson in that you get 3 balls per frame for a reason.
All in all, while this was more team destroying than team building, we still got to have a ton of fun—some of us through tears of pitifulness. In between the strikes, gutter balls and bullying—because some of us never learned how to score bowling and math is hard—we still got to bond over beer, bourbon, bowling alley pizza, curly fries and birthday cake. Zach, our newest Roller is a Leap Year baby so we celebrated his “7.5th” birthday as well.
Lesson Learned: Together we can score a perfect game. We can also come out on top with a few gutter balls because after all, there is no success without failure.
Pops Whitten for life.