I never thought I’d turn out to be a person who has a bowling night, especially not one who very much looks forward to bowling night.
But one of the good things about the expat experience is that you find yourself doing things you might not do back home, either because you’re too busy or less open to joining new things. But it’s fun here. We joined an international group that bowls every Tuesday night – the Beijing International Friendship Bowling League at the Gongti 100 alley, a 15-minute walk from our apartment. The group is mostly all expats with the occasional Chinese person mixed in, and the bowling alley is a standard one much like those in the United States, except bigger (oh, China) and except that smoking seems to be allowed and a fair amount of beer is consumed. Do they still allow beer at bowling alleys in the States?
So, you walk in, get your shoes – smooth-bottomed ancient shoes that don’t fit all that well – and find out where your lane is. This week we were matched to another pair to make a team of four, and we played against a group from the American embassy, who seem to be the reigning champs. They all had their own balls and their own shoes and bowled with a ferocity that was something to see. One guy kept his ear buds in the whole time he was bowling.
After making several overtures to his non-responsive head, I decided to get in his face – literally, since it was the only way to get his attention – and talk to him. He admitted that he used the music to psych himself up for bowling. I have to say, it seemed to work as he bowled strike after strike. But I got him to take out the ear buds and talk to me a little bit about his approach and even coaxed a smile out of him, so that was a triumph. There’s nothing like someone who comes off as hostile to bring out the extroverted jump-in-everyone’s-lap part of me. Win!
I was certainly more successful at that than at actually bowling. But it’s just a game, right? And, unlike various other physical reminders of my youth that I’ve tried recently, I didn’t actually fall or hurt myself. (Okay, so there were no bridges. And just like the dear U.S.A., I still have scars from Vietnam.)
I even got a higher score than Bob in the last game of the night. Bob, however, had his own triumph. He came up with a clever name for our new team: the Lane Brains. It says everything you need to know about the newest team of the Beijing International Friendship Bowling League.
P.S. Thank you to those who were guilted enough by my last post to send me a personal email. It was a cheap ploy for personal attention, which I feel slightly guilty about. But not enough not to want you to keep those cards and letters coming!