Ever so often that perfect situation begins to shape up. You can just feel things falling into place, where square pegs suddenly fit perfectly in round holes and left turns are automatically turned into right. Right???
Carol, my beautiful, brilliant, bodacious wife and I planned to celebrate the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 in excellent fashion. We planned an evening of dining, sipping, and entertainment that would be just celebration for the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
We planned to dine at the Out Back Restaurant where we could really put on the whole hog using a gift card given to us by an appreciative pheasant hunter. That plan changed when the wait at the Out Back appeared to be too long. We quickly decided to move our dining experience across the street to Hoffbrau's where the wait was only about 20 minutes. This turned out to be the perfect meal. (Square Peg in a Round Hole)
We partook of a cold glass of barley, yeast and hop's, a pale lager if you will, while waiting for our table. The wait was scheduled for 15 to 20 but in reality lasted only about 8 and 1/2 minutes. My darling and I had some very stimulating and interesting conversation during our brief wait which I'm sure will endure in my memory at least, as a time that was much savored and enjoyed. We were escorted to our tables by a young man in a red shirt and were introduce to the cuisine when he handed us our menu's. Our Waiter arrived soon there after to take our drink order. We declined his offer of water and indicated to him that we were just fine and for now at least would not require additional liquid refreshment. After a brief pregnant silence he mumbled that perhaps we needed a little more time to study the list of meal options and upon our agreement he departed to offer his services to the other patrons. My precious companion and I chatted about the dishes listed in the menu and at about the same time our decisions were made, our Waiter re-appeared with pen and order booklet in hand. Carol had a baked chicken dish with baked potato, salad with vinegar and oil dressing. I chose the ladies portion of a signature sirloin dish. (Not that I couldn't handle the gentleman's portion mind you, I was only thinking of the later planned events and wanting to give myself the proper preparation for peak performance) I picked fried okra and a salad with blue cheese dressing as my sides. The young man departed to give the chefs our order and we settled in to a brief wait on our salad.
When we were able to take our eyes from each other we studied the other patrons. I noticed several men with western hats which I was able to appreciate each as to color and style. I noted that most of the men and women were a little older but not too heavy as is often the case. There was the usual low murmur of collective voices and the occasional louder phrase that although understandable was meaningless because you didn't hear it in context with the rest of the discussion. This experience continued to build on the perfect situation noted above.
Our salad arrived and it's consumption coincided with the arrival of our entree. My sirloin was cut into 1/8 " strips which were very tender and seasoned exquisitely. A touch of ketchup added to each bite of steak or okra was the perfect addition for the perfect pallet experience. My Princes, setting across from me, indicated her appreciation of the meal prepared for her as well. Our Waiter returned periodically to inquire as to our needs or desires and each time we assured him that all was satisfactory and that nothing else was required. During the next to the last visit from our restaurant attendant and after his question regarding desert I handed him my credit card indicating that we were finished and were ready to reimburse the establishment for a very good dining experience. That accomplished we departed Hoffbrau's en route to the next leg of our celebration.
Our drive across town to Western street was typical and punctuated with an occasional red lite and lane change. As we passed a drive-through beer and wine establishment Carol pointed out the line of cars that extended out into the main roadway. We remarked that there would be many who would regret their decision to imbibe tonight ,in the Morning, or when the spinning room could only be steadied by a firm grasp of the porcelain potty as the evenings drink and food reemerged as a not so attractive gush into the water below. With those not so enjoyable thoughts we pulled into the parking lot of the establishment we planned to spend the next few hours laughing and challenging our bodies to new accomplishments. We had arrived at Western Bowl.
We entered the building and were immediately greeted with the usual sounds and smells of a bowling alley. If you will close your eyes and concentrate on the thought "Bowling Alley" I think you will conjure up the same sites, sounds, and smells. Its similar to walking into a Casino only the bells and tinkling's are exchanged for thunks and pops and crashing. We secured our shoes and alley and once we exchanged our street shoes for the bowling shoes we began our search for the ball that would best lend itself to our quest for the perfect game. I found a blue one with swirls of liter color and only a few nicks and dings. It fit my fingers reasonably well and I felt pretty good about the selection. As I placed it on the ball return caddy I noticed another blue ball left by a previous patron that had Heavy, stamped on its side. I made a mental note to try that ball at some point in my game. Precious had found the perfect pink ball with which she would knock down the pens at the end of the lane and which also went well with her maroon shirt, green eyes and feminine demeanour.
I might here take a moment to describe the enjoyment and pleasure I derive from watching my wife and companion of 14 years bowl. She takes the ball and carefully inserts her delicate fingers into the holes bored into it. She sets her feet while balancing and steadying the ball with both hands. Its about at this point usually that I admire the figure of the woman standing there. Excellent posture, trim figure, pants that are just tight enough to attract my attention. She begins her walk. One, two, three, four steps and ends the delivery of the ball to the alley with a little hop and swoop. She watches the ball approach the pins while I usually continue to watch her. I know approximately how many pins fall by watching her subtle body language and almost imperceptible whimpers or exclamations. These have become clear over the many times I have watched her success and failures.
Back to the experience at hand and the building perfect evening. We begin our bowling tentatively at first. You never really know which game you are bringing to the challenge until after a few frames. On the second frame I picked up my spare and Carol gave me the proper greeting and recognition when I returned to the seat. She was bowling her usual good game and I was enjoying watching. My turn again. I picked the other blue ball I mentioned earlier. The one with "Heavy" stamped on the side. I took my place, picked the line on the lane I wanted to deliver the ball to and began my delivery. As the ball left my hand I felt and heard a familiar tug and pop on my thumb. I watched as the ball took the perfect curving line into the strike pocket and the pens exploded as the ball finished on the back wall of the alley. I noted the speed of the ball on the electronic scoreboard at 16.58 mph just before the graphics showed an impressive display to me and the rest of the bowlers on either side of our lane. I wished at the time that the sound had been turned up so more of the people several lanes over could have enjoyed the graphics on the screen and then let their eyes take in my humble attitude and posture as I strolled back to my seat. Carol continued her fine bowling and I noticed our scores were very similar going into the forth frame. I approached the alley once again. My confidence was elevating and I felt an assurance of good things to come. Sure enough soon after the release of another good ball I could tell it had strike written all over it. I again humbly returned to my seat with Carols compliments and I'm sure admiring looks from my fellow bowlers. Again my Princes bowled and again I stood up to test my long ago learned skills. I had the thought that a third strike would be counted as a Turkey. Set, Walk, Release, Strike, Turkey. The roar was defining. At least it seemed louder to me as I walked back to Carols admiring gaze and high five. It was at this point that I began to allow my thoughts to go to the next level. Maybe this would be the night. The defining night of the rest of my life. If I would use the next few frames of this game to work out a few kinks and further refine my execution I could take the next game to that point only a few other remarkable men had achieved. The perfect Game. As I watched Carol knock down 7 pins and then pick-up her spare I contemplated the adjustments I needed to make. I remembered the 16.58 mph speed on the first strike and chided myself for not looking at the next two. I had been too busy making sure of my humility by keeping my eyes diverted while returning to my seat that I had failed to notice the speed. I was pretty sure that I had been increasing the speed and felt that the speed was surly adding to my ability to strike. I assessed my approach and delivery and decided that the best way to further increase the speed was to take a little longer back swing and then add just a little more effort to the down thrust and follow through. My turn again. I approached the triangle of pins with determination. I was not looking for a strike now, only speed and further refinement of my approach. I selected "Heavy". Inserted my fingers and thumb anticipating the tug and pop. I began my walk letting my arm drop and curl up behind my back. I felt the muscles of my arm and shoulder tighten and stretch a little further than I had previously asked them to do. I knew this was the sacrifice needed to get the additional speed. I began the downswing. I pushed harder with my arm and shoulder. I felt muscles in my chest and back kick in. Speed, more speed through the delivery. I felt it coming into place. I only needed one more body part to contribute to bring this puppy home. I would increase the leg drive as I pushed off and swooped into the delivery slide. I urged my legs to drive, drive. They responded. Too late did I recognize that tug to the inner muscles of my thigh. My mind was so caught up with execution and delivery that the pain to my groin really did not hit me till soon after I watched my ball hit the gutter. I thought "Dang It" maybe I overdid the need for speed. I will have to adjust that. I walked back to the score table and Carol. With each step I tested the painful area. One step seemed to not be effected while the next one brought a sharp pain. I sat down trying to understand my situation. I let Carol know that I thought I had hurt myself and she expressed the proper sympathy. She asked if I thought she should take me to the emergency room. I didn't think so. Was I hurt or not? Could I go on. I had a lot at stake. I decided to fight on through the pain. Carol bowled and made a strike. I congratulated her as I took my place at the spots on the floor I normally start at. I cocked my heels together as I normally do. I tried to feel the pain in my leg but did not notice much. I stepped out with my injured leg. As it hoovered above the floor there was no pain but immediately as my foot touched the floor and the muscles responded I felt a sharp pain. A debilitating pain. The act of stepping out required a second and even third step. Each step causing pain that I had no intention of dealing with. I limped to a halt and put the ball back in the caddy declaring my inability to go on to my beloved. Dashed were my hopes of the perfect game. No longer did I have to maintain my humility. The limp was real, to heck with my embarrassment. Carol finished mine and her lines. We discussed my injury and what we might do to salvage the evening. She bowled another game and all I could do was enjoy her form. We departed the "Alleys", she happy and supportive and me hurting and positive that the injury had cost me the perfect game.