Volume 1, Issue 47
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
The T.S. Eliot poem, "The Wasteland," begins: April is the cruelest month. T.S. Eliot didn't know half of it. Throughout the country, the majority of book averages are recorded this month. In some areas, the scores go in as early as April 1st, and I'm sure the bowlers in those associations get teased about April Fools. In Southern California, the books have always gone in midmonth. I'd guess that nothing creates more stress, strife, and aggravation for a bowler than book average--except maybe the other April 15th nightmare, taxes.
What is a book average? It's just a number right? I know, down deep, it doesn't truly represent much about me as a person or a bowler, but every time I bowl a city, state, national, or other tournament, that number haunts me. I set goals for myself, and try to live up to them. Some folks want to have higher books, as a status symbol, and some bowlers want the lowest possible book, and I am NOT talking about sandbagging. While some people like the notion of a big fat number on the average sheet, others realize that bowling in tougher houses or even in a travel league gives them less to brag about until they bowl a tournament. Then often it's the bowler who is humble all year who gets his due when the checks are passed out.
I'll admit I'm never happy with my book. I've come to accept that no matter what happens, I'm gonna be a grump the week books go in. Last year I was subbing for a very ill friend. With 63 games in, on a very easy condition, I found myself 10 sticks over my other averages. Considering my friend's illness, I put my plight into perspective: No one is ever gonna die from an inflated average. It has happened to me before, where I get into a long-term subbing situation, get into a streak of good sets, and book with 27 games or so. Yet, I know those 27-game books are no reflection on my true bowling ability. I get penalized for a year, and eventually, my ability catches up with the higher average.
The day books went in, I figured out my -1, even, and +1 scores. I would never intentionally bowl poorly, but it eased my mind knowing the three scenarios: if I bowled X, I would drop a pin; Y would keep me the same; and Z would raise me another pin. And so like the dope I am, I shoot 687, my highest series for the entire season, raising my average not one, but two pins. The entire time I was bowling, I thought, Enjoy the party on the lanes now, because you're gonna have a yearlong hangover.
The hangover began a few weeks later when summer leagues began and people no longer could use me to sub. Or worse, they'd call, and when they found out my new book was 191, they'd say, "You're that high?" Then of course, as tournaments came up, I would find myself in different divisions, see who I was up against, and think "ouch."
This year, I'm only bowling a little, daytime travel league, so I knew my average would drop back down. My ego liked to think I was a 191, but then reality set in. I've dropped 10 pins back to where I believe I truly belong, so I should be happy, right? The day books went in, I bowled poorly the first game, and my team struggled to capture two of three points. I hadn't figured out all the different scenarios of going up or down, since it would be my only book this year.
When I got home, the calculator came out, the numbers were calculated, and my average remained 181. This is what I wanted, and for a second I was happy, until I thought about it. ACK! I bowled badly, but not bad enough to slip into the elusive 180 that qualifies me to bowl with the classified division of ABC. So next year in Albuquerque, yours truly will find herself bowling against the likes of Team USA and regional pros again. Hey, that's OK, anyone can throw a 137 in team event.
I'm a more knowledgeable bowler this year, but I don't suspect I'll ever be content with my average. April is always going to make me cringe. T.S. Eliot must have been a bowler.