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.

I should remember to forget my camera more often

Yesterday was Parents’ Day at our daughter’s YMCA day camp. Usually, she takes the camp bus, but I drove her, and we went canoeing.

It was a cool, sunny morning. The camp is next to a lake, and there were probably 100 other parents on the beach, noshing on bagels and pastries and waiting with their kids for a turn on the water.

While we stood barefoot in the sand, my 11-year-old pointed out girls she knew, and I thought: I forgot my camera.

It was a bad feeling. I thought, here we are, having this little adventure, and we won’t have any pictures.

Then, I remembered something I’d told my mom years ago, when Thing 1 was a baby and Mom wouldn’t stop taking pictures of her:

This isn’t a photo-op. Put down the camera and just enjoy yourself.

If our house was on fire, and I could save one thing, I’d save our pictures and videos. I forget how fast our kids are growing up until I see an old picture, or not even one that’s particularly old. Pictures from last summer or even Christmas remind me how much they’ve changed.

There aren’t any pictures to prove it, but we had a good time. We were on the water for maybe 5 minutes. Thing 1 insisted on steering. We made a wide circle and, miraculously, didn’t capsize or crash into any other parents. When it was over, I gave her a quick hug and kiss — nothing too embarrassing — and went to work.

Walking back to the car, I thought, I should remember to forget my camera more often.