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Bowling: Not as easy as it looks

Crescent City Rotary Club members participating in Saturday’s Bowl-A-Rama were, from left, Scott Feller, Eli Naffah, Bob Cochran, Donna Sund, Rich Taylor, Michele Postal, Nick Gonnella, Katherine Taylor, John Pritchett and Teri McCune-Oostra.
Crescent City Rotary Club members participating in Saturday’s Bowl-A-Rama were, from left, Scott Feller, Eli Naffah, Bob Cochran, Donna Sund, Rich Taylor, Michele Postal, Nick Gonnella, Katherine Taylor, John Pritchett and Teri McCune-Oostra. Del Norte Triplicate / Rick Postal
Let me tell you the story of how I became a bowler. It was 1974 and I was working at my first newspaper job in Honolulu. Someone passed around a sign-up sheet looking for bowlers to fill vacancies on a Thursday night league.

There was quite a buzz in the office about the fall league that would be resuming soon. My boss and her boyfriend were on it, as were several of my co-workers in classified advertising and staffers from other departments.

In an effort to help the cause, impress my boss and fast-track my immersion into the company’s culture, I signed up. After all, how hard could it be?

Now would be a good time to mention (although I did not mention it to anyone back then) that I had never bowled before in my life. I was a pretty darn good miniature golfer, could rally on the tennis court and knew a lot of card games, but somehow I’d managed to make it to the ripe age of 24 without bowling.

I may be naïve but I’m not stupid. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was setting myself up for failure and humiliation. I was surprised to learn that bowlers had their own custom-drilled balls with their initials engraved in them. In fact, some had two bowling balls — for the same reason that some golfers carry two putters in their bag.

These folks had all the accessories to boot: bowling bags, shoes, towels and fancy team shirts with their names embroidered on them. I listened to them talk and discovered how much I didn’t know about bowling.

I overheard the seasoned bowlers mention a woman in Kalihi who was considered the best ball driller on the islands. I went to see her after work and, on her recommendation, purchased a 12-pound. black Cougar that she crafted to fit my grip perfectly and finished off with my initials. I bought a pale blue bowling bag and grey suede bowling shoes with blue trim.

I stashed my gear in the car and the next day at lunch I drove to the nearest bowling alley, which happened to be the very same one where the league would play. After watching other bowlers for a while, I took a deep breath and threw my first ball.

I practiced every day at lunch and at least once on the weekends until the league started, and continued long after the league was underway. I went from throwing gutter balls to a 134 average over the course of two seasons and even rolled a couple of 200 games. And, yes, eventually I purchased a second ball, an Ebonite, 2 pounds heavier in a bright red swirly pattern.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2012. My family is visiting and someone suggests we go bowling. I find my bowling shoes and head to Tsunami Lanes to bowl for the first time in probably 30 years. My 3-year-old granddaughter and I tie the first game. I pull ahead by 20 or so pins in the second.

Triplicate team members include, clockwise from upper left, Michele Postal, Robert Husseman, James Haban, Jessica Cejnar and Anthony Skeens. See more photos at triplicate.com/photos.
Triplicate team members include, clockwise from upper left, Michele Postal, Robert Husseman, James Haban, Jessica Cejnar and Anthony Skeens. See more photos at triplicate.com/photos. Del Norte Triplicate / Rick Postal
The following month, we have a rematch in Florence, Ore., where we’ve met for President’s Day weekend. Kayla’s skill level stays about the same, but I improve immensely. We play three games and I score 109, 121 and 124!

Now, I think, I’m ready for the annual Crescent City Rotary Club’s Bowl-A-Rama fundraiser. I won’t be sitting it out this year! I announce I’ll coach our team, which is co-sponsored by the Triplicate and Darren McElfresh.

Despite my confidence going in Saturday, I bowled as badly as I did the first time I walked into Kapiolani Lanes on my lunch hour. I could blame the fact that they turned out the overhead lights, turned on the strobes, turned up the disco music and basically battered my senses so I couldn’t get into the zone, but I’m not sure I still have a zone.

I even tried using two balls but neither had the punch of my Ebonite or the accuracy of my old Cougar. My trusty bowling shoes looked old and tired. I felt old and tired. But I had a fun afternoon, washing down humble pie with a cold beer and helping to raise some money for three deserving local causes. I’ll be back for more next year.

Reach Michele Grgas Postal, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

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