"Further to my letter of October 6, 2010..." (Yawn) "By my computations it appears that all discovery was due..." (Groan) "After a review of your responses..." (Go to hell...Run it up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes it...sue me - oops too late.) Just once, I'd like to open my mail and read "Congratulations, you've just won the following prize..." It really doesn't matter what I win...the raffle for the church's crazy quilt, tickets to a Barry Manilow concert, the sequel to the "The Story of Cutlery," hair rollers.
The last time I won something I was on a bowling team. I was so terrible at it, so gutter prone, I had the highest handicap in the entire league - maybe in the history of the league. It's been almost thirty years and I might continue to hold that title. I still wince when I recall one rather unfortunate occasion; I let go of the ball as I swung my arm backward nearly wiping out an entire row of bowling housewives on the opposing team who were sitting unaware on the bench. Early on I learned that bowling was a very competitive sport for these ladies, and not just a lark, as it was for me. But until that moment I had not realized it could also be quite dangerous. I made a mental note to look into my homeowners insurance to see if I needed extra coverage for negligent acts.
On the bright side, because I was a lousy bowler I had an amazing handicap. And because I had such an amazing handicap, when it came time to "Bowl For Turkey" just before Thanksgiving, I won the ceramic covered dish shaped like the bird. Likewise, at "The Christmas Bowl" I won the set of three serving trays, in graduated sizes, painted with a Poinsettia motif. That last win was just too much for the long-timers on the league. Some of them were heard to grumble (quite loudly, I might add) that "the lousy bowler" was winning all the prizes, while they - the true bowlers who cared deeply about the sport - were being left in the dust with no prizes to show for their expertise. I don't know if there is a natural correlation or if it was just coincidence, but the best bowlers were usually built rather sturdily. Therefore, I decided to take the road of least resistance and quit the league. A shame, really, since I loved bowling. I bought my own bowling ball with the finger holes drilled specifically to fit me. It was a beautiful twelve-pound blue sparkler; I even went the extra mile and had my initials engraved on it. It had a lovely carrying case as well, also blue. Although bowling shoes are never truly attractive, I was lucky enough to find a pair made by Hush Puppy that might have been mistaken for regular buff-colored loafers if one stood far enough away from them and then squinted really hard to make them blur a little.
I also loved the sound of the bowling alley...the rumbling down the lanes, the crack and kerfuffle of the pins as they dropped (or in my case, the lack of crack and kerfuffle followed by a hollow plunk.) And then there was the movement of the bowlers...the fist pulled back in a jerking motion followed by a "Yes" and a little bow and another jerking fist...maybe a "That's the way...that's it." High fives all around. I didn't have many of those moments either. Mostly, I'd line up my shot, then step - hop - step as I drew my right arm back and followed through and then prayed the ball would stay in the lane. Just one pin, please God in heaven. Most of the time I was able to hit something. But there were no high-fives, no fisted "Yeses." Mostly, it was pretty quiet as I walked back to my place on the bench trying not to look ashamed. But every once in a while I'd line up the shot perfectly, step - hop - step - and I'd remember to keep my thumb pointed to the right and my wrist flat as I executed the release and - bingo. "That's the way...that's it...Yes!" I'd do my chicken dance, and strut back to my place pridefully. But the other members of the league weren't fooled by any of it. They knew dumb luck when they saw it; and, there was still the matter of the handicap. They didn't appreciate some lousy bowler grabbing all the loot. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the dour faces of the league champions, or their gold and silver plastic trophies in the shape of bowling pins, I was the one with the ceramic turkey bowl and Poinsettia serving platters. There was no getting around that!
Since my bowling career ended, I haven't won anything. I'm not much of a sport model; I'm more like an old Packard. When I moved to Savannah, I was asked to join a tennis league. I think I must have looked the part of a "lady-who-tennised." I was thin, and yuppie looking, and lived in a new house, in a nice neighborhood, with children in private school. Ergo, it followed I must also be into tennis, right? Once again, I thought it was all just for fun. I didn't realize they actually expected me to know how to play tennis...or that they expected me to help them win matches. I just figured we'd schlep on over to the tennis courts and bat the ball around and then drink wine. I bought a tennis racket and racket cover and shoes and a visor; but, I didn't figure on a dress code. I think I showed up in jeans and a paint-stained T-shirt that said something like, "I Live To Boogie." In return, I was greeted by ladies in little pristine white skorts with matching tops. Being a fast learner from past events, the morning wasn't over before I told them I thought I was better off bowling.
Still, I would dearly love to win something. And although I don't expect it, I would be lying to you if I didn't admit I would love to win the short story competition next Spring. Unfortunately, I don't think I can rely upon handicapping for an edge over the competition. Just ink, and paper, and a couple of thousand words. Who would have thought it was so difficult. I mean, no balls, no pins, no nets, and no dress code. Now, if I can just come up with something interesting to say, and manage to stay out of the gutter...it would be lovely to do the chicken dance.