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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Last night we went to the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain for some candlepin bowling, known in these parts, according to my Boston area-born friend, as "normal bowling" ... because that's what people play around here! Others have described the finer distinctions between candlepin and tenpin (i.e. what everyone else thinks of as "normal") elsewhere, so I won't get into that here, other than to say that in candlepin the ball is much smaller and lacks finger holes, and the shape of the pins is narrow and cylindrical rather than curvy.

When I lived in Boston as a college student I remember noticing candlepin bowling signs around town, and, never having heard of this variation, I assumed it was something like "starlight bowling," lanes open only at night, and perhaps illuminated romantically by candlelight. When someone finally explained to me (with great economy) that it was like regular bowling, "only smaller," I pictured a sort of miniature golf version of bowling: mini pins, mini balls, with big, hulking Boston dudes hunched over it all, struggling not to fumble as they tiptoed down the petite lanes. I guess it really is like this in a way, though without the hunching and tiptoeing.

My main issue with bowling is that the ball is too heavy for my weakling arm, so the first time I tried candlepin I thought I would have an easier time with it, but the lack of curves on those pins makes it a lot harder to knock down multiples (at least for me), and the ball seems even more likely to career into the gutters than normally happens.

Speaking of heavy bowling balls, I went bowling at the Yerba Buena bowling alley in San Francisco a few years back, the first time I'd been in many years, and the adult-size balls were just killing me, especially since I had wrist problems from too much computer use, so I tried switching to the bright pink five-pounder kiddie balls. The finger holes were a little snug, but they worked all right for awhile, until after one particularly emphatic pitch I noticed my thumb was unusually warm, wet, and - ack, covered in blood!

For a moment I thought some renegade bowler was furtively sharing my ball while sporting a freely bleeding wound, but it soon became clear that I was the renegade. I'd managed to leave behind a key bit of thumb in the too-small hole - gross! Anyway that's the story of my bowling injury, and should serve as a cautionary tale to me and anyone like me to stick to the smaller, lighter, hole-free balls of candlepin ... even if playing it makes you feel like the worst bowler who ever lived.


At 2/05/2007 3:27 PM, Anonymous Claverack Weekender said...

Don't forget duck pin bowling. Next time you are in Providence stop by Chip's Bowlarama in Pawtucket!!!

At 2/05/2007 5:38 PM, Blogger Chrissa said...

Oh, I totally want to try duck pin. Those little pins look so darn cute!


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