scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Roll of Glory

For those of you who don't know, I really enjoy a good roll. I instigated a weekly bowling night when I worked at Canlis (best restaurant ever) and while it turns out bowling once a week is a bit much for all but the diehards (lookin at you jer and lin), the tradition remains, and I believe the crew still heads out to Sunset in Ballard every once in a while. I can only hope they roll a frame for me now and then!

I have seen Pétanque played in all the dusty corners of West Africa. In donkey poop covered yards in Maroc and muddy trash filled streets in Côte d'Ivoire I have seen the silver boules flashing in the sun like the winged heels of Hermès (reading Homer right now). American style bowling however, lacking the imperial introduction, has not exactly caught on in West Africa.

But some days ago, while exploring the crumbling and mouldy shell of what was once West Africa's premiere hotel, the Hotel Ivoire, I stumbled on, of all things, a bowling alley! The hotel is a fitting symbol for this once grande city, laid low by so much conflict, yet pressing on. Empty swimming pools, broken windows and long vacant corridors give a depressing site. It seems the old ship is holed below the water line (just finished a book on the US Exploring Expidition of 1838) but she refuses to sink. I was at the hotel to attend a lecture celebrating the release of a book about the most recent conflict here. It was a grand affair with numerous speakers and dignitaries speaking to about 400 people gathered in the hotel's cavernous and dank movie theatre. There were traditional village chiefs in attendance which was great cause they have the most unique sense of style. Confidence I guess.

When I walked in to the bowling alley I felt I must have been the first customer they'd seen in years. The old man in a faded vest and tie was sitting smoking behind a counter covered in dust and old bowling score cards. The alley itself was like a set from a film about old timey America. The boards were cracked and run with ruts. The balls were made of wood stained with oil. The ball returns were adorned with chrome fixings like Buicks from the fifties.

My first roll I went for a powerful twirl, slipped on the oily floor and fell right on my ass. My spinning ball caught the rough pine and headed straight for the gutter, about two metres from where I lay laughing. The man keeping score (a child of the electronic age, this is a skill I will never learn) gave a quick chuckle and marked me a 0. It took some time for me to figure the lane out. Spinners were impossible and I switched to the old straight roll after a while. Teddy Twisters were out of the question. My first game was a dismal 72. The second game a respectable 138.

I never imagined bowling as really proper exercise. But let me say, when you're bowling in 98 degrees with 85 per cent humidity you can expect to sweat a touch. After two games I looked like I'd fallen out of a boat.

That's it. End of the story. I miss you, bowling crew!


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