Volume 1, Issue 21
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
I stayed home last week, getting cabin fever. The week before in his Thursday league, my son Michael, just three weeks off bumpers, had his highest bumper-free game ever with an 87. Quite pleased with himself, he proceeded to come home and break out with the chicken pox. Mind you, he never mentioned any symptoms, like being itchy or perhaps the 102-degree fever. When pressed, he remembered he had a slight runny nose.
It made me laugh, he's already a bowler and doesn't even know it. Bowlers are such a funny lot. People will miss a week's worth of work and still bowl. And bowl well. The first time I picked up the 6-7-10, I was sicker than a dog, and heavily under the influence of cough syrup. I was 20 at the time, and my mother insisted on driving me to league, much to my embarrassment. I wasn't bowling great, and leaving that split wasn't very impressive. When I threw the spare ball and sat back down, it took three people standing there with their mouths agape, and my nonbowling mother saying "whatever they call that, you got them all" for me to realize they weren't joking with me.
A friend sprained ligaments in her sliding foot, and was out most of the spring and all summer, but she came down religiously to watch us bowl. Halfway through the summer when her sub didn't arrive, she shoed up and hobbled out there, because she wouldn't consider leaving the team a bowler short. We were almost afraid to let her, but she was adamant. Her games were not stellar, and her shot was tentative, but there was no talking her out of it. She was not about to let her team down. I know she was hurting, because she made sure the sub showed up the next week.
This week a woman subbed on my team with a really sore finger, and she kept bowling, albeit with grimaces and colorful expletives under her breath. She had already committed to subbing later in the week too. When I asked her if she would consider calling the house to find another person to sub, she said, "No, I'll just soak it. I'll be fine." It seems once a bowler makes that commitment to bowl, there's nothing that will stop him or her.
And it doesn't stop with illness either. Women for years have claimed to bowl better while pregnant. I've heard theories/old wives' tales that the increase in ability comes from a better center of balance, a lower center of gravity, and even just a slower approach. I can't honestly say I bowled well, but I had my high series of that season three nights before my son was born. It was only a 570, but I was a 145 bowler at the time. With only one child, I'm not going to conduct personal research on the matter, and I would rather take a lesson than get pregnant to shoot better now.
Even on the pro circuit, most would think that a life including travel, bad food, and hotel or motor-home stays would be enough of a deterrent, but Cindy Coburn-Carroll and Leila Wagner have both bowled well enough while pregnant to make telecasts. Talk about dedication.
I do think at some point, it's important to differentiate between having something that is merely an illness or hindrance and something that is communicable. The woman I bowled with who was still feverish and had been in bed with the flu for the week made me nervous every time she hacked up a lung. Dedication is one thing, but being the Typhoid Mary to the team is downright unfair. But when it comes to dedication, only a bowler would understand going to your coach and asking for a lesson to get through a roll-off after totaling a car. Forget about asking a doctor whether I should have been bowling or not, all I wanted to know was "Just how do I throw the ball so I don't mess up my team's chances (and so it doesn't hurt so much)."
One week to the day after Michael broke out in chicken pox, he was back bowling. He didn't go back to school until the next day, because schools have specific rules about how long it takes to get well, even though I would have sent him back sooner. But he was already back to bowling. After all, as a bowler, I understand.