Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bowling Etiquette

I discovered this weekend that the English, though world-renowned for being the most polite people on the planet, have absolutely no concept of bowling etiquette. This may be due to tenpin bowling being a relatively new phenomenon on this side of the pond.

Fortunately for you all, I have been bowling since I was about 7 and competing on leagues since I was 12. I will now give you the benefit of my years of experience and teach you all how to behave properly in a bowling alley. You're welcome.

Rule no. 1: Stay by your own lane.

If your party is using only one lane, and you are therefore sharing a ball return with another party, stay the fuck on your own side of the ball return. Do not run around the ball return playing 'Duck-Duck-Goose,' 'Ring-Around-the-Rosie' or any other such nonsense like a bunch of crazed lemurs on crystal meth.

Rule no. 2: Use only your own fucking ball.

It is profoundly rude to use someone else's ball, as it can be extremely difficult for some people to find a ball whose weight and finger size and spacing suit them. If you are sharing a ball-return with another party and you use a ball belonging to a member of that party, that person will be forced to wait for you to finish your frame before s/he can proceed. This seriously slows up the action for the other party, and they will HATE you and spend their waiting time making voodoo dolls of your children.

Rule no. 3: Rack your ball when you are finished playing.

Every bowling alley has ball-racks lining the walls that are filled with balls for the public use. Theoretically. At the alley where I bowled this weekend (Hollywood Bowl at Cribbs Causeway) the ball racks were completely empty. Every single ball in the alley was sitting on a ball-return, regardless of wether or not it was being used. It took us 20 minutes to find balls to use, during which time we had to interrupt and annoy countless people. So when you're done playing, for fuck's sake put your balls away. It's just like playing with toys at home: when you're done using it, put it back where it belongs. If you can't handle that, go back to kindergarten; your teacher will be happy to explain it.

Rule no. 4: Don't bowl if someone on a lane next to you is bowling.

If you see that a person on a lane next to you (either side) is preparing to bowl -- that is, standing in position, ball in hand, staring at the pins and lining up their shot -- wait. Wait until they've thrown their ball, and then go. It's not difficult. But throwing your ball as someone else is preparing to do the same is extremely distracting to the other person. Like talking when someone is golfing: you just don't do it. So when it's your turn, pick up your ball, look to your left and right, make sure no one is in the process of bowling on either side, and then proceed.

It may sound like doing this will make your game take twice as long, but really it doesn't. If everyone in the alley is abiding by this simple courtesy the alley naturally falls into a rhythm of even lanes bowl, then odd lanes, even lanes, and so on. It works. Trust me.


(and this one's crucial),

Rule no. 5: Don't eat chips with mayonaise and then go sticking your slimey fingers in everyone else's balls.

This will lead to a shortened life-expectancy. I guarantee it.

There. Now that you all know how to behave civily in a bowling alley, you may go forth and enjoy the great game of bowling.


Mangonel said...


Or you can stay home with a nice book . . .

Shelley said...

I love that scene from the Farrelly bros. movie where Woody Harrelson is caught scamming bowlers and they stick his whole arm down the ball return. OUCH!!

I don't bowl often, but I know the rules, dammit! ;)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Mangonel: you could, but books don't make that lovely crashing sound when you get a strike.

Shelly: Great flick. Woody Harrelson is fantastic. Best bowling movie ever: The Big Lobowski. Effing GENIUS!

ZB said...

It's a game. Chill...

Chaucer's Bitch said...

games are only fun when everyone plays by the rules.

Sassy Sundry said...

Eeeewwwww. Someone else's mayonaise on your bowling ball? Ick.

Homo Escapeons said...

The only way to bowl is while you are flying on LSD.
The neon lights melt into your brain and the ball hitting the lane ((CRACK!!))sounds like a herd of Bison spooked by a bolt of lightning thundering across the open Prairie.

A frame feels like it lasts 5 weeks but is over in a flash and all of the other people in the Alley are silent stationary one dimensional cardboard cutouts that you can walk around with ease because TIME has been stopped for them.
Only the other people on your TRIP are audible and you can't miss them because they are glowing like they have been lit in Michael Mann movie!

One drawback is that you do not have any depth perception and the end of the lane is at the end of your nose. This doesn't seem to matter because everybody in your group will shoot around 280 or better...I don't know why..maybe because it is a game and not a sport?

Lardy Big Bot said...

I love bowling and round here most people adhere to the rules. The cost though!!! £35 it cost us to go last time...Dear God and Elvis...I want my own diamond plated ball for that.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

sassy: Eeeew, indeed.

Homo: I've never done drugs and have no urge to try, but if i did bowling on LSD would be at the top of the list i'm sure.

lardy: we paid 4 quid per person per game. a tad more than i would expect, but acceptable considering it included shoe rental.

llewtrah said...

When colleagues go bowling it involves lots of booze and drunkenness. You probably wouldn't approve. But we have fun.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

are you kidding me??? bowling without beer is like fooball without, um, beer. bowling and beer go together like bratwursts and... well, beer. you see my point, anyway.

Spinsterella said...

With you on number 5 - but otherwise - let me explain.

We don't take 10 pin bowling terribly seriously here. It's the sort of thing you do once every five years - usually on a works night out or something. I've never heard of leagues in this country - they probably do exist - but in a very minor way.

We just don't really *care*. Sorry.

First Nations said...

for me, the thrill in bowling is writing inappropriate things on the over head score projector.

First Nations said... in america, you can crack up the entire clientele by writing 'titties and beer!' up there.
just in case you ever bowl in america.

First Nations said...

...actually anything boobie related.
thank you.

frobisher said...

Oh, it's only a game! and a pretty simple one as well - we just don't get worked up about it in the UK.

Get Pirate to take you to play skittles in a village pub in Somerset and have a few pints of scrumpy!

The Hopeless Romantic said...

Baseball (AKA "Rounders"), Ice Hockey and Basketball - all American sports I can cope with both playing and watching (although, perhaps I’ll scratch the playing of Ice Hockey...)

However, I'll pass on Bowling and American football, mainly because I don't like those sweaty bowling shoes and, other than wearing ridiculously sized shoulder pads and shouting "42, 69, 28" (are they drawing lottery numbers?) all the time, I don't understand the rules.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

spin. i noticed. that was precisely the problem. *sigh*

FN. i can't believe i never thought of that. *smacks head* next time we go out i'll be sure to do you proud.

frobi. skittles! the rainbow of fruit flavor!

HR. that's why it's so worth it to buy your own bowling shoes.

Valerie said...

Oh dear, #5 made me laugh out loud. You might make some headway with that one. The others.. while I agree with you completely, I don't know how much luck you'll have!

Melissa said...

Ever since you mentioned you'd write a post on bowling etiquette, I've been anticipating it. I'm willing to give on number 3 and even number 5, provided rule number 2 is adhered to (what do I care if someone put mayonnaise fingers in their own ball), but for God's sake, number 4 is sacrosanct, at least here in the midwest.

I understand there is a huge difference between open bowling and league bowling, but a league bowler gets used to a certain standard and it's extremely disconcerting to be setting up or making your approach and see a fellow bowler matching you step for step. If it's open bowling, I expect that a non-league bowler on the lane next to me might fly up and let loose when I'm preparing on the approach, and I'm not going to fault him for it, but from then on I'm going to hang back and make sure he's done and get up there before the pins rack for the next guy.

I should apologize now for the long comment. Sorry.

I agree - it's just a game. But like CB said, you don't start hollering when someone tees up, do you? It's just not done.

P.S. My understanding is that if you and another person both get to the ball return at the same time, it's customary to defer to the person on the right.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

val: i don't actually expect to make any converts. it was more of a rant disguised in the imperative tense.

melissa: thank god! finally, someone who understands!!! i guess we flatlanders are possessed of a level of sophistication these brits just can't comprehend. don't apologize for the long comment; long comments are always welcome here, especially if they agree with me.

llewtrah said...

Round here, we're so intent on our own lane we don't even notice if the next lane is lining up to bowl. Besides, we don't take it seriously. Flinging heavy balls down a lane at a bunch of skittles (as many of us still think of them) is all about having a laugh with mates.

We figure that if you're concentrating on your own lane, it really doesn't matter what the guys in the next lane are doing. In Britain, it is courteous to "not notice" things.

ZB said...

games are only fun when everyone plays by the rules.

See Calvin and Hobbes, Calvinball.

If you can't hack someone matching you step for step when you're bowling then you're going to stuffed when it's a six footer at Augusta for the Masters and people are taking pictures of it.

Mr Farty said...

2 - yep, I hate it when that happens.

3 - well of COURSE I rack my ball when the ball return is full. Oh.

1 & 4 - common sense.

5 - you're sure that was mayo?