How to Not Bowl

Earlier this year, the night before a new colleague was about to fly back home, my coworkers decided to go bowling as one last social activity before she left. As we were wrapping the last meeting of the day, my boss said, “Jess, you probably shouldn’t bowl tonight, huh, because of your neck?” I’d slept wrong a few days before and badly tweaked something, so that even turning my head to the left was painful.

“Actually, that’s not a big deal, but I don’t bowl,” I said. “I was just planning to hang out with y’all.”

“You don’t bowl?!?” This question, delivered with emphatic disbelief, came from another colleague. “How can you not bowl?!?

Frankly, until that point it hadn’t occurred to me that the act of Not Bowling was one that anyone would need coaching in. But for those of you who, like my colleague, are confused about Not Bowling, I offer these tips.

Step One: Don’t Go Into Bowling Alleys

This is by far the easiest way to Not Bowl. If you are fortunate enough to have lots of friends who already know how to Not Bowl and practice regularly, then this should be an easy step to master. If, on the other hand, you have friends who either regularly or even occasionally violate Step One, then you’ll have to move on to the more advanced steps outlined below.

Step Two: Don’t Put On Bowling Shoes

Shoe-obsessed people like myself are in danger of falling into a trap here, as anything that requires special footwear must be worth doing, right? It’s a clever trick perpetrated by those who are against Not Bowling, but if you’re aware of it you can avoid it. Upon entering an establishment where bowling is or may be taking place, typically you must first pass through an area that includes countless shelves of shoes. You may even be asked your size. In order to successfully Not Bowl, you must resist the urge to obtain new footwear. Remember, this is a trap. Politely decline and make a beeline for the bar.

Step Three: Don’t Pick Up a Bowling Ball

Having successfully eluded the shoe counter, you may be completely home free – in some places only those who succumb to the allure of the shoes are allowed near the next potential hazard to Not Bowling: the ball. They are shiny, colorful, sometimes even sparkly. They roll up out of nowhere right to where you and your friends are sitting, as if by magic, and there are convenient carrying holes. Do not be fooled, however, because you run the risk of becoming emotionally attached to one and then your days of Not Bowling are effectively over. If you find yourself watching for one particular ball to roll up from the machine each time, excuse yourself politely and – again – make a beeline for the bar.

In Conclusion

I hope that this little primer on Not Bowling has been illuminating. I also hope that it doesn’t come to a point where you need Step Four, because that’s the truly drastic one. If you can’t manage Steps Two and Three and your friends insist on not allowing you to follow through with Step One, then it’s high time you got yourself some new friends who are more well-versed in the art of Not Bowling.

Oh, and being the expert (dare I say near-professional) in Not Bowling that I am, I invite any and all questions on the topic. Just be aware that most of my answers may involve suggesting you make a beeline for the bar. And also note that I’m very likely to meet you there.

photo by battlecreekcvb

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