Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bowling With Bricks

Bowling balls are expensive. And the whole thing with drilling holes in them to match your fingers and thumb, it's all too much. You make one little mistake, like a hole too big or small, you're out $400 or less. And since I'm all thumbs, the added drilling costs are very high.

But bricks are not only economical, they're downright cheap. Meaning you'll never see a rich brick maker, unless they make up for the cheapness on volume. Which could very well be, because usually if you need one brick, you need a thousand.

That is, if you're not buying them for bowling. If you're looking for a bowling brick, you really only need one*, if you find just the right one, or you might get a few, like some smaller, more supple bricks if you want to go for a tricky spare.

You might raise the objection that bowling balls roll, and that's what gets them from one end of the lane to the other. You're depending on the circular shape to keep it moving as it seeks a place of stationary rest but never finds it till it meets with an immovable barrier. Sure, those are true points. But anyone can roll a bowling ball, there's no challenge in that. How about heaving a brick down the lane for five or six games. By the time you get through, you'll be sweating, your arm is sore, and your fingers are more or less torn to shreds. (A glove is good, for wimps.)

There's definitely one thing a brick has over the ball, even if it's a matter of storage. And that's this, when you put your ball in your carrying case, if you set it down it'll roll away. But not a brick. You set it down and it stays right there, because the generally square or rectangular shape doesn't have any give. When I had a bowling ball, I'd put the case in the closet, and, guess what, the next time I needed it it may have rolled all the way to the garage, and that's up hill. It was very frustrating to be looking all over the neighborhood for my ball. Now, with a brick, not only does it stay in one spot, it's harder to get to the car, since you can't drag it as easily as a ball.

Of course, if your experience is like mine, it takes some persuading to get the typical bowling alley owner to let you throw a good size concrete block at the pins. It seems they're a little put out, saying the bricks cause damage to the floor, which may be true, although I'd simply say, "Use it or lose it." If you can't offer the service your customers want, you might just go out of business. Then what? You're sitting there with an empty bowling alley, your kids are hungry, and your bills go unpaid.

The first time this happened to me, we were at one of the bowling alleys, and I guess the guy wasn't paying that close of attention to what we were doing. But a bowling alley is about the size of a mall. If you're off at the bar, or by the vending machines, or at the other end polishing lanes, you don't necessarily know what's going on at the other end.

Anyway, we're down there heaving bricks. And sure enough, the floor was taking on some damage. I don't know if it was faulty wood or what. But after only about five games, a big hole started opening up on my lane, and you can guess what happened next. I had to go searching for the manager and asked him to help me: "Could you help me get my brick out of the basement?" He came running and, I must say, he was less than gracious.

*I should add one pointer for any brick newbies out there. Since the bricks don't roll back, it's helpful to have several on hand. And maybe a wheelbarrow to collect them when they've piled up. Or, if you like a bigger challenge, you could replace the wheel with a big concrete block and just push it back on the next lane.

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