Volume 1, Issue 15
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
I am NOT a jinx! This is a revelation for me. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to happen to teams I actually bowl on, but if a friend needed extra help, my good-intentioned vibes could prove toxic. It's gotten so legendary, that my son reminds me NOT to root for our favorites who make televised finals, even when we know the outcome. He will root for who he wants to win, picking anyone else for me to root for, because he doesn't want me to hurt his beloved Parker or anyone one else.
For years, if I rooted for any team, they would take a sudden and severe turn for the worse. In baseball, my poor Baltimore Orioles have never been able to withstand my jinx, so I would root for the Yankees. Until this year, that worked--reverse psychology, I suppose. This year, something has changed, and even that didn't work, since rooting for the Yankees has suddenly caused them to win, and still kick the Os to the curb.
In recent years, this affliction has created quite a dilemma when I would go watch friends bowl in local tournaments. If I didn't root for them, where should I channel my bad luck? It would be downright unsportsmanlike to root against other bowlers, and eventually, one friend would bowl another friend, and I couldn't root for or against either of them (If I root against both of them, isn't that like rooting for both of them? I already know what happens if I root for people, and no one wants that!) Fluffy the (imaginary) Wonder Bowler was born. If anyone who knew my "luck" apprehensively approached, asking who I was rooting for, I could tell them they were safe, because I was backing Fluffy.
Of course, some people doubt this affliction exists. During a tournament last year, one friend asked me how I could NOT say I would root for her. I told her a brief history of my "abilities" and after hearing the testimonials, even she thought it was best if I didn't risk it. Earlier this summer, it was that same friend, Jenn, who declared the jinx dead, because I was able to sit behind her an entire afternoon as she went on to win her fifth WWPB title. I'll be absolutely honest--if she hadn't been 100+ pins going into the position round, I would have sat somewhere else "just in case."
Well, even on occasion, the Yankees lose, so I wasn't entirely sure the jinx was gone. I certainly wouldn't risk someone's title bid on whether my luck had changed. Saturday afternoon, another WWPB tournament was held within driving distance and I watched in awe some great bowling under pressure. When the top 16 was announced, three friends had made the cut. They resumed bowling Sunday morning at 8:30. I, not being a morning person, wandered in to the center just before the afternoon squad. Imagine my shock, when I read the leader board, and positions one, two, and three were names I knew. One of the women called me into the lounge where they were finishing lunch, and from the far end, a familiar voice yelled, "Whatever you do, DON'T root for me." Another quickly offered, "Don't worry, she's rooting for Fluffy."
That afternoon was probably the longest seven games I've ever witnessed. The three bowlers flip-flopped throughout the block. One would fall victim to a bad game, and then come back with a vengeance the next. As each game was posted, there seemed to be a bigger gap growing behind them. Fourth and beyond fell behind what seemed like a firewall, and no one could reach them. After game 15, they announced the lane assignments for position round. The top three women were the same three bowlers as when they left off for lunch, and given the right gyrations, any of them could win the tournament. It was hard to watch the final match, but the only thing they were deciding was who would finish where. The jinx was over.
Maybe the jinx will be back someday, but for one afternoon, watching three friends finish first, second, and third was worth a lifetime of the jinx.