The View from the Gutter

Life lessons from the bowling alley. 

Brotemarkle, Davis and Company proudly fielded two co-ed teams of 5 people each to participate in the Wine Industry Network 2010 Gutterball Classic fundraiser last Saturday. 


First of all, you have to wonder who decided to associate all of those unfavorable words with this game.  You play the entire game in an “alley” for goodness sakes. That doesn’t sound like the kind of place you want to be after dark.

And then there’s the “gutter”, which for some of us seemed more like a strong magnetic field, attracting what I can only assume was a bowling ball filled with 100% iron.

And maybe it’s my southern upbringing or my left handedness, but who had the brilliant idea of making you switch sides from left to right and back again after every series of (what do you call them, anyway? throws? pitches? rolls? drops? wobbles?)  Just when I had gotten a clear idea of how far over I needed to stand to get the darn ball to stay in my lane, I would discover that the scoreboard had flipped over to the other lane.  That meant I had to re-orient my entire stance for the new spot.

And then there’s the whole shoe thing. How are you supposed to look like a professional when you’re out there sporting the same shoes your dad made you wear in third grade? My originals had that same series of multi-colored patches only in suede hushpuppy form.

Mid-way into the first of three games, it became obvious that some of us were far better at competitive eating and raffle playing than the actual bowling part of the game.

Others on the team were power players, hard-driving competitors who would play neck in neck with their equals on the other lane. Men and women, new-comers and jaded professionals, all seemed to have equal chance at success.  There were any number of power strategies, winning tosses, and measured steps. I was in the presence of greatness on so many levels.

And the cool thing is that you couldn’t spot the good bowlers just by looking at them (although the ones who arrived with their own balls, gloves, and special shoe accessories were a tad scary to the rest of us.) Great players come in all shapes and sizes. (But the duds appear to be limited to left handed southerners.)

Everyone managed to get an occasional strike or a spare (well  almost everyone) but in some cases, it appeared that athletic success was directly proportional to the octane of the beer consumed. One excellent bowler discovered that local beer lowered his  score. Apparently the international variety was better for his throwing (pitching?) arm.

At the end of the day, I think we were all in agreement that the outing was a wonderful success, that sharing the victories and disappointments with supportive co-workers builds lasting bonds, and that putting people in rented bowling shoes does something to level the playing field and to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Comments (1)

One Response to “The View from the Gutter”

  1. Dennis says:

    Never have I heard it all explained so eloquently! You ARE a southern belle!

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