Where is my camera when I need it?!?
Saturday night we were invited out by our friends Marco and Regina to go bowling. Several other couples were going too, so we knew it would be a fun time.
Bowling, or boliche as it is called in Brasil, is not an overly common activity here. Belo Horizonte, with 5 million people in its metropolitan area, has two bowling alleys (to my knowledge, at least.) Most of the people we were going with had never bowled before in their life. I should have known to take my camera!
We met up with our friends at a bowling alley that is inside one of the malls in town. They had put their names in for a lane, but there was a two hour wait. (Remember, common or not, 5 million people with roughly 40 lanes in the entire city . . .) The first thing Eric and I noticed was that all the people bowling were barefoot: shoes and socks kicked off, pants rolled up, bowling. The second thing we noticed was some interesting form: two handed underhand slinging of the ball, shot-put style throwing of the ball, balls that rolled backwards away from the lane, balls that ended up on the wrong lane, and leaps and jumps and looking like somebody was going to seriously dislocate something. The third thing we noticed was incredibly decent scores considering what we were watching, and that's when we realized that the bumpers were pulled up on almost every lane. This was bowling of the likes we've never seen in all our 26 years on this great Earth. (And that includes several years in college towns where a large majority of the participants had been indulging in entirely too many fluids from the bar prior to their bowling efforts.) But let me tell you, I've never seen a happier bunch of people! They were all laughing and cheering and having a grand time.
So our number was called and we got two lanes together, since there were 11 of us bowling. Eric was most concerned about the lack of shoes - however would he maintain proper form barefooted? There was small desk with shoes for rent, but the selection was limited and they didn't have his size. I thought he needed to just embrace the culture and their barefooted ways - even though the 8 - 12 pound balls flying around made me a bit nervous without any toe protection. If ever steel toe boots were appropriate, then might have been the time. But, just the same, we shed our shoes. I didn't really want to be wandering around barefooted though due to unnatural fears of toe fungi and the sort, so I left my socks on. Eric, thinking he could get a little slide and maintain better form (the boy takes his bowling entirely too serious for me), left his on as well.
Eric's first turn came up and he carefully selected a ball of the proper weight and finger hole sizing. (Something our friends didn't seem to bother with - which might explain some of the crazy techniques.) He started from the back line and made his ever graceful approach towards the lane. Somewhere in all of his careful observation and calculation, he didn't notice that the approach area is approximately a half-stride shorter than he is accustomed too. That half stride turns out to be quite important. His sock-covered foot crossed the boundary line and hit the oiled lane. His ever so textbook bowling form turned into an ever not so pretty but oh so entertaining slip, slide, crash, and sprawl across the lane. Whew, thank goodness they had brought along some Americans, the more experienced bowlers, to show them how it's done, huh? Eric was immediately reprimanded by all the women with us and told to take his socks off - it was dangerous to be bowling like that! (With my less serious approach to bowling, my socks offered no problems. And kept the fungi away from my ever so delicate toesies.)
So, I am not completely sure what I would rather have a video clip of: the Brasilians bowling or Eric's fall. Either way, I could be entertained for hours replaying it. We also learned that not having the opportunity for your ball to end up in the gutter makes the game a lot more interesting. After hanging with us and even beating us a couple rounds, our friends proved that you're better off learning how to make a bank shot than trying to roll the ball straight and fast down the center. Quite a few strikes were made after hitting one bumper, and then the other, prior to arriving at the pins.
If it seems like I am laughing at the Brasilians, be assured, I was laughing with them Saturday night! And furthermore, believe me when I say that they would laugh just as hard at my efforts on the soccer field (and that would just be from the six year-olds as they ran circles around me and stole my ball time and time again.)