Lessons From the Bowling Alley by Len Stevens

Last weekend, I did something I hadn't done in far too long: I went bowling! The ABC-13 crew was well-represented, covering two lanes and having a blast.

I got the itch to bowl again after hosting the United Way Bowl-a-thon two weeks earlier. That was a load of fun! I saw the bowlers out there, laughing it up, and I wanted to do the same.

The thing about bowling is everyone can do it and have fun. Our group was like most I saw at the bowl-a-thon. We had two really good bowlers, a couple of decent ones, and the bums like me. I don't mean to brag, but four frames in, I was at 22 (and counting!)

The problem was I was trying to get fancy. I wanted to spin the ball just the right way, so it would tromp down the lane, nearing the gutter then make that dramatic leftward turn and slam right into the pocket, shattering the pins and making a thunderous boom!

What I often ended up with was much different - a sad, spinning, meandering ball that continued gutter-ward, hanging on just briefly enough to knock down two or three pins.{} Sometimes I'd get lucky, and a pin would bounce leftward and take a few of his buddies down.

My approach was not working. Then, to my right, I saw our 7 p.m. newscast producer Carly Stephenson working her lane.{} She wasn't exactly putting up strikes, but she was having a blast! She was all giggles. If she knocked down three or four pins, that was enough.

"Carly!" I told her. "You're bowling like nobody's watching!"

We all laughed, and I was inspired.{} I decided to forget about being fancy, no more searching for the perfect hook. I just gripped it and ripped it! And my game came to life! I even got two strikes in a row. Last time I did that, I think Reagan was in office. I finished game one with a 120-something. Game two, I came in at 147, I think. Not bad!!

Carly's game came around too! She wasn't the most consistent. It's not all that often you see someone throw a hard gutter ball, and then knock down all 10 to pick up the spare.

Later, I would realize, I somehow pulled a muscle in my lower back. I felt old and unfit. But the back's much better now {}Plus, I had a blast and want to do it again soon.

So, lessons learned: Bowl often, it's fun! Watch your back, we're not getting any younger. And most important, bowl like nobody's watching.{} It's much more enjoyable that way.