The trick to bowling the perfect game: Lie about your score

This is a true story. It happened years ago, before I was born, but I know my dad, and I take him at his word.

FullSizeRenderDad was a bowler. Today, you don’t know how to keep score to bowl. You roll the ball, and computers do the rest. In the early-60s, though, you kept score by hand. You placed a scoresheet on a table with an overhead projector, and it was projected onto a screen so everyone could see it.

One time, Dad decided sit out, but he kept score, and for no particular reason, he wrote his name last on the scoresheet. He kept everyone’s score, and when he got down to his name, he marked an “X” on the scoresheet, meaning he’d gotten a strike.

He did that for 9 straight frames. He wasn’t trying to cheat. His friends knew he wasn’t really playing. He just did it. He thought it was funny, like he could bowl 9 strikes in a row.

Then he noticed a crowd gathering. People had noticed the score on his screen and thought he really had bowled 9 strikes in a row and was about to bowl a perfect game.

His friends noticed the crowd, too, and played it cool.

When the scoresheet showed it was Dad’s turn, he stood up solemnly and picked up one of his friends balls and tried to act like a guy who was trying not to act nervous.

No one said a word.

Dad took a deep breath and bowled.

Dad was a decent bowler in his day, but that night, he was just OK. He knocked down 7 or 8 pins.

Everyone in the bowling alley groaned.

They thought he’d missed his chance to bowl a perfect game, and Dad, God bless him, tried to act like a guy who’d just blown it.

He managed to play it straight until he got to the car, when he and his friends finally laughed about it.

Staying apart, to prevent the snowman apocalypse

Starbucks says, “When we’re together snowmen come to life.”

Because of this, we can never be together.

Because if we’re together, even for a moment, snowmen would come to life.

Snowmen coming to life would not be wondrous. It would be terrifying. It would be like the zombie apocalypse, only colder and worse, because if snowmen can come to life, there’s no reason they couldn’t use their mittened stick arms to create more snowmen — a magical army of icy golems that would lumber down the streets of town. Thumpety-thump-thump. Thumpety-thump-thump.

We can write. We can call. We can Skype. But we can never be together.

It’s better this way.

The worst Halloween ever (or, the night a girl and her mom stole my candy)

When I was 5, my parents took me trick-or-treating. It was drizzling, and I had a nasty cold, but I didn’t want to miss Halloween.

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Florida Memory/public domain

I don’t remember my costume, but I remember my bag. It was a paper, with paper-cord handles. This is important. It was a paper bag.

I got a lot of candy, but there were a few duds. One woman was giving out pieces of popcorn — loose, not bagged, just reaching in a bowl and dropping a few into the paper bag — and there was a doctor up the street who gave out pennies.

So, there I am, sick, sniffling, coughing, with a slight fever, walking down the street in a drizzling rain, and I say, “Mom, my bag feels lighter.”

She says, “Oh, you’re just getting used to the weight.”

I stop and look at my bag and say, “No, it broke!”

The bottom had dropped out of my damp paper sack, and all my candy had fallen out.

We looked up the sidewalk and there, maybe 20 feet behind us, a girl and her mother were scooping up my candy and putting it in the girl’s bag.

I looked at Mom. She looked at the girl and mother stealing my candy and sighed. “OK,” she said. “Let’s go to a few more houses, then.”

We did, but we’d already hit most of the houses on the street, and I didn’t get enough candy to make up for the candy the girl and her mother stole.

A few years ago, my parents and I were talking about the kids’ costumes and about Halloween when I was a kid — like the time our neighbor’s big black dog chased me down the street, or the many times teenagers blew up our pumpkins with M-80s — and I asked Mom why she hadn’t tried to stop the woman from taking the candy.

Mom said she knew the woman, or knew of her. I’m from a really small town in eastern Kentucky where everybody knows everybody else, including their family histories and their family’s criminal history. “That woman was mean,” my mom said.

I understood. It would be a waste of time to get into an argument with an idiot over a couple bucks worth of chocolate. I imagine she would have claimed it was hers under the widely held legal principle of “finders keepers.”

So, this Halloween I’ll carve a pumpkin (yuck) and take the kids out trick-or-treating and, because they asked, I’ll wear a costume — Indiana Jones, because I have a jacket and a hat that would work — and if I see a kid spill some candy on the sidewalk, you can bet Things 1 and 2 and I will help him pick it up.