go bowling, my friends

What Kingston really needs is a museum #amiright? An honest-to-goodness museum of art or history or science, a place where families can hang out in the long cold winter months, discover stuff, and maybe grab a snack. Ok, that’s my personal rant. For a city the size of Kingston, there aren’t nearly enough things to do indoors during winter.

One of the things to do indoors in winter or summer is bowling. I was hooked on the idea of bowling ever since Buffalo ‘66.

Bowling was the activity of choice a couple of weeks ago when I met up with my YITL (that’s “year in the life”, for the uninitiated) family. I photograph them once a month, and they pick where to go and what to do. I just bring along my camera.

Bowling at Prost (on Gardiner) starts off with getting some shoes. I think bowling at any place starts with this, but some of you might not have been bowling before, so this primer is probably for you. Once you put on your special stiff-inside and slippery-on-the-sole shoes, you descend to the place where you launch polyurethane balls with the mass of lead or a small planet down a beautifully polished wooden laneway, at the distant end of which are ten pretty pins, all lined up and waiting to be overthrown. The pins beckon you, but lo-and-behold, two gutters lining each side of the narrow lane beckon your leaden ball.

The balls have been conveniently drilled with three holes - one for your thumb and two for your middle and ring fingers. Sticking your fingers inside the holes allows you to grip the ball until the very moment you’re ready to launch it forward. Or, if unskilled, it can allow you to sprain your wrist. Which is why I always use a children’s ball. I have delicate wrists.

Bowling is great. Do you know where else it was the activity of choice? Egypt, in 3200 BC. That's right: I Googled it. Bowling has been around for five thousand years probably because it is a generally great activity, with a fair bit of challenge (see aforementioned wrist-spraining & stiff-shoe perils). It can be especially challenging for kids.

[When I take my own children bowling, one of them sulks, another might cry, and the third doesn’t care about anything but the chocolate muffins. It’s just the way of the world.]

When my YITL family took their two sons bowling, there were a few predictable glitches. Having an older brother and two parents who are bowling Gods (everyone looks like a pro when you first start bowling) does nothing for one’s ego. Will gave it a valiant effort, then there were some near-tears, then a change in strategy or five. Afterwards, he ate some fries and gave it another honest go. There were double underhand throws, and squat throws, and rotational slams, and anguish and thrill. It really doesn’t matter what the scoreboard ultimately said: the kid persevered, and that’s all anyone needs to know about that day.

So, go bowling, my friends. And persevere, even if it takes some crying and fried goods.

And if you’re about to do something fun approximately once a month with your family, you might want to give me a shout and become a YITL family. Just look through the photos below. They'll convince you your real life is worth documenting.