I’ve gone bowling maybe 10 times in my entire life, 15 at the outside. Not that I mind throwing a few. I enjoy failing at bowling as much as the next guy. I never scratch but I rarely throw strikes, and after a while this pisses me off. There are always one or two pins left after my second throw. What am I doing wrong?

I realize, of course, that bowling is more of a laid-back pastime than a “sport.” Hang out, get buzzed on Budwiesers, make fun of someone’s technique or frequent gutter balls, flirt with the women in the next lane. But those relatively shitty scores that I always end up with are bothersome. This is one of the many, many reasons why I’ve never liked Kingpin (’96).

The basic thing is that I’ve never felt especially at ease with the people who frequent bowling alleys. They’ve alway struck me as low-rent animals who don’t read much or appreciate fine cinema — vaguely schlubby proletariats, Lebowski-cult stoners, beer-heads, horrible dressers, fatties, guys in dad jeans, loud families. Not my kind of people.

I began feeling vaguely alienated from bowling relatively early in life. I remember going bowling with my cub-scout troupe when I was nine or ten. There was this kid named Howard Schoffler whose mother had orchestrated the excursion. We quickly learned that she had been teaching Howard how to bowl for some time, and that he’d become pretty good at it. So right away I was seething about what a set-up this was. Howard’s mother wanted us to “have fun” and we did, but the visit to the bowling alley was mainly about everyone taking note of Howard’s bowling skills.

I was also irritated by Howard having mastered the hook or spin-ball technique — he would throw the ball down the right side of the lane with a leftward spin on the ball, and them five or six feet before impact the spin would kick in and the ball would crash into the center of the pins for a perfect strike. My reaction wasn’t a hearty “wow…good throw, Howard!” My reaction was a silent “fuck you, showoff.”

Ever since that day I’ve been generally against the idea of hooking the ball. Because I don’t ever want to be like Howard Schoffler. I use the arrows as guides, and I throw straight and true and hard. I love it when one of my “fastballs” slides down the lane without rolling, or halfway at least.