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Of bowling and the gutter award

July 21, 2011

I am not a sportsman. I do play some sports but never near any level of competitive proficiency. I do like sports. I am a fan of Manchester United Football Club, a passionate one. Ask me to play football, I’ll stink to high heaven. I was told my uncles were athletes who represented Negeri Sembilan in football, which is no mean feat. Even Abah represented VI in rugby and hockey back in the 50s. My point is I do have the sportsman’s gene in my blood, but for some reason it decided to go into hiding and takes a recessive role instead of a dominant one (biology, anyone?).

I was told that in order to stay healthy, you need to at least participate in some physical activity. Well, I’m not a gym person, honestly I don’t see the point in exercising on my own. But that’s just me. So in the quest of achieving some sort of impression of health, I played sports. To me, at least it’s more fun than running on a treadmill (of which I gave a shot at). So I played badminton, tennis and table tennis. Which I became quite good at. Not really good, but just enough to save me the embarrassment of looking like a complete idiot.

So a few weeks ago I was selected by my company to participate in a bowling tournament hosted by the local port authority. I was to play in the VIP trio, no less. Bowling was never on my radar at all. In fact I hated it. I don’t hate it as a sport per se, I just hate it because I have a feeling that I may not be very good at it. They say you should approach everything with an open mind. To that I unequivocally agree. However, if you know that you are going to suck at something, the best thing to do is stay away, isn’t it? Which I did not do when I was selected in the bowling team. OK. General principle. I am a very competitive person by nature. I will not (if at all possible) let anybody get ahead of me in most aspects. Having said that, my competitiveness doesn’t carry on to sports. Which I cannot explain why.

When I play any sport, I am contented with the workout. I do not really care if I lose. No long faces. Usually it’s all taken in good fun (probably I’m being defensive. There’s a reason to all these statements, which you’ll know soon enough). Back to the bowling tournament. I was given notice of the tournament a full three weeks before the event (which was last night). I didn’t take take the trouble to practice. I’ll tell you why. I have never played bowling before. In all my 37 years. I know it’s quite popular apparently. My stand has always been if I don’t like it, I have a choice. Which was true until I was notified of said bowling tournament. You know, being in a new company there’s always going to be that subtle pressure for the newbie to be obliged. Which I totally understand and have no complaints about.

So I went for my maiden bowling session (is the word “maiden” suitable in this context?) last Monday. My scores were pretty bad. Really bad actually. Beginner’s slack doesn’t last forever you know. It’s never good to say on tournament day that, “I just picked up bowling two days ago”. Do you honestly think people would care? Although it would be a good excuse if you do really bad. In which case I did. Do really bad I mean. I’ll leave that for later.

I wasn’t ready and I knew it. I was in a team comprising of myself and the top two people in my company. Talk about pressure. The team beside our lane was literally blazing the lanes, scoring good marks err sorry, pin falls. And I discovered my teammates are good bowlers too. I realised I have got to simply bite the bullet and go for it. And try to have a good laugh while I’m at it. As predicted, my scores were below average. At one point, I knew people were just being polite (if you know what I mean).

Then the unthinkable happened. You see, in the third game (there were four in all) the Chairman of the company arrived and naturally, spent quite a bit of time at the VIP lane, where I was. It was my turn to blaze the lane. While the Chairman was there, I posted a score of 169 for the third game. Which was to be honest, pure and utter nonsense. Going from a score of 69 and 82 for the first two games (if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t record my scores, especially the shitty ones) to 169 in the third was mind boggling. To add to the tale, not even the guys in the next lane managed to better that during all four games. After the third game, the Chairman left. You guessed it. I scored another sub 100 in the fourth game.

I am totally convinced there was something supernatural about all this. How can the presence of one person be the catalyst to a good bowling game? I’m not going to even attempt to explain it. A good game is a good game, no? It came as no surprise that my company came dead last amongst the four organisations which took part in the tournament. The icing on the cake was I received the gutter award for the lowest score (in four games). I was given a nice hamper for my efforts (or non-effort?). To be perfectly honest, I totally dispute the award as I think I did OK although that could be the ego talking. Everything was taken in good humour though. Although I have a funny feeling that in future bowling tournaments, participants from my company would always be reminded not to do a “Shahrin” in reference to my award.

As for my future, I can clearly see that bowling is not included anywhere therein. I may give it one more chance, but at this juncture it is a super fat one. Well, at least I won something, kan?

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