The perfect game. Finally.

Last night at bowling, on the last official day of the league, on the last game of the evening, I finally bowled my first 300 game! In the first game, I had opened the first frame with a split, 9 spare, opened on another split, then threw the last 9 in a row for a 244 game. Then in game two, as the oil shifted, I struggled hitting the pocket. I changed balls and moved lines, and then in the 8th frame I decided I would forget about this game and try to find something that works for the third game. As it turns out, it was just one board over from my game one line with my AstroPhysiX.

I opened with a Turkey, which I didn’t really think anything about, other than I was happy to finally be back in the pocket consistently. I walked back to the bench and said, “Gobble gobble, bitches,” to my wife who chuckled. I also had to pee, but I didn’t want to jinx myself, as I almost always pulled the ball after going to the bathroom and washing my hands regardless of any powder I used afterwards. Then after the first six in a row, I went back and repeated this the same line as after the first turkey, which, again, made my wife laugh. After the seventh strike the thought of a 300 game crept into my head and I started getting a little nervous, but I’ve thrown seven in a row quite a few times in my career and I quickly tried to forget about it. All I really wanted for the last day of league was to hit my average overall (which would be a 606 series as I have a 202 average) as I haven’t been bowling the best lately. After I threw the 8th strike, I realized that I already had more than enough pins given my first two games to do so, which made me think to myself despite what comes next, I’ve already accomplished what I had hoped to do for the night, so I wasn’t going to be too disappointed when I inevitably thew a bad shot in the ninth frame, which has historically been my nemesis. I can distinctly remember grabbing my ball and thinking to myself, “Elbow in, follow-through. If you can get through this frame, you’ll have another opportunity to finally do it.” It hit a little light in the pocket, but they all went down. I walk back and immediately start thinking about it. My nervousness must have shown as I stood there looking up at the screen, as my wife looks at me and said, “Hey, that’s another turkey, where’s the gobble gobble?” This certainly helped, as I repeated, “Gobble, gobble, bitches!” Only this time I added in the Pete Weber crotch chop, which made a few other opposing team members chuckle as well. Then Lacey kept trying to keep my mind off of it by doing things like commenting on my terrible penmanship, which I didn’t realize at the time, but certainly appreciate now.

I let the new guy on the other team go ahead of me, as I was fairly confident he didn’t understand the protocol for someone walking up with the first nine strikes on the board. I was pretty nervous, and as I finally placed my feet, I repeated to myself, “Elbow in, follow-through.” And, of course, I failed to do the first thing and tugged it. The ball missed my mark by a good 4 boards inside and went Brooklyn, though they all somehow fell. I heard the cheers, and laughed to myself. I thought, “Ok, there’s my screw up, now I have nothing to worry about.” When my ball came back, I picked it up, wiped it off on my shirt as I had done before every frame this game, placed my feet, and said to myself, “Elbow in, follow-through. You have to get one before you get two.” This time, the ball rolled over my mark and hit the right side of the pocket. Eleven in a row. Now the cheers are getting louder, and with it, the nerves. As I waited for my ball to return, I tried to refrain from looking at anyone. I tried telling myself that this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is why I’ve worked through the nerves of numerous no-tap 300 games in the summer so that I would be used to throwing 11 in a row. I was in a similar spot back in 2017 in the my first adult league after taking 15 years off, in a child-adult league with my oldest, the last game of the year. In that instance, I tugged the ball, it hit Brooklyn and left the 9 pin. I was so nervous before that shot that I didn’t want to take it. This time, I was ready.

I picked up my ball, wiped the oil on my shirt, and took my stance. As I stood there looking at my mark, I couldn’t help but smile to myself, realizing that everyone around me was quiet and watching. Some hoping I hit it, and probably some waiting for me to choke. One last time I said to myself, “Elbow in, follow-through.” I kept my elbow in, I was balanced when I let go of the ball, and followed-through. The ball missed my mark by a few boards right, which I knew was going to hit light, but at least I didn’t pull it. I just stood there, holding my follow-through as I watched the ball hit its break point and start heading towards the pocket. As I expected, it hit light, but the pins fought, and in the end, there were none left standing on the lane. The cheers erupted. I turned around to see Mitch jumping up and down and everyone from the surrounding lanes heading my way to congratulate me. I was so pumped! I had done it. After 17 years as a YABA bowler, one year on adult league, a 15 year hiatus, and then 5 years on adult leagues, at age 42, I had finally done it.

After making my way through the crowd and kissing my wife, I started to walk to the bathroom, as I really had to pee now. But as I was walking up, the league secretary was already there with the paperwork and told me to go get my ball. As we sat down and she started explaining everything, I think she realized that I was shaking and told me to take a few minutes and then we can work on getting everything filled out. So I told her that I’ve had to pee since the first frame but didn’t want to jinx myself, and went to use the bathroom in the bar as she started writing down the serial number of my ball and filling out her part of the form. As I stood there alone, I started to tear up, as what just happened really started to sink in. I freakin did it. I finally bowled a real, sanctioned perfect game. Now there is only remaining milestone left for me to aim for: a sanctioned 800 series.

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