Posted by: tlnemethy | January 21, 2013

The League Of Extraordinary Ballers

“Play the wood!”

Yes. You read that correctly. That phrase marks my every Tuesday evening. Now, normally I would find an older gentleman screaming at me anything that includes the word “wood” to be inappropriate and very off-putting. But I now find the humor in it.  I’m on a candlepin bowling league and happen to be the youngest player with the majority cruising beyond mid-life crises at a stiff pace. Sure, there’s three of us “young folk” but the other two are dating each other so I’m pretty much the lone wolf of the pack.

I joined the league late. I think it was only a few weeks, but everyone already knew each other really well and here I come, all excited about bowling without bumpers. After the first night I realized that most of my league showed up slightly buzzed to play ball. I was clearly at a disadvantage because not only does my coordination deteriorate quickly with intoxication, but I also have been known to throw bowling balls behind me on occasion. I couldn’t set my hulk-self loose on these poor people without some warning, or at least familiarity.

There’s only a slight difference between the bowling of New England and the bowling of the rest of the world: size.  We use balls that are really only the size of grapefruit and the pins are thin and without the tapered top. The perks of my bowling league are the inclusion of a pair of adorable bowling shoes, a set of balls, and a carrying case (all brand new and pretty awesome). I don’t really understand why I have such an unfortunate devotion to my bowling shoes, but I love them with a tenderness and care that should not be devoted to inanimate objects.

Whatever. For such a weird mix of people and age ranges no one really cares about how you play or if you gutter ball all the time. I have mastered the art of gutterballing only for it to rocket out of the gutter at the last second and take down a few pins. Illegal? Yes. On our league? That shit plays. We take the pins where we get them. And really, we all seem to get along pretty well. Usually I only make super awkward jokes around people my age, people who will no doubt understand that I’m kidding or sarcastic, or just a little deranged. But on the league you can totally make so many “ball” jokes.

Totally my game face.

Me seeing a brand new set of balls in the cradle: “Woah. Alright guys. Who’s beautiful black balls are these?” Seriously. They were so glossy and brand spanking new. Mine are scratched. Ha. My balls got scratched. See? It is so easy to jest.


Me: Where are your balls?

Him gesturing: “She took them up there.”

Me: “I thought you signed them over on the wedding day, not on bowling night.” Chuckle. Chuckle.


Teammate upon seeing the way the pins fell and sprawled across the lane in front of the remaining upright pins: “Look at that lay. That is a great lay.”

Me: “Yes it is.” I still managed to leave most of them upright.


  1. Reblogged this on The Boston Harbor Picayune and commented:
    You aren’t New England without Candlepin Bowling!

  2. Exactly. And I didn’t realize New England had anything different than the rest of the country until I showed up at an alley all confused because of the monstrous balls.

  3. If you weren’t thinking about wood, you would bowl better.

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