Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Out of My League?

It took months, but my local Singaporean friends have finally talked me into it: I have joined a bowling league. And not only have I joined a league, I am now the (proud?) owner of a bowling ball and bowling shoes. The shoes make my feet look enormous, which may be because the Asian women on my team have size 4 feet, but at least I know who’s been wearing them. And I admit that it’s fun to roll my very own ball (blue, with gold flecks) down the lane every Friday.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I am still as lousy a bowler as I ever was. In the US, I subbed in a few times for our team in the company league (with the best team name ever for a publishing group: Helvetica Bowld), and I managed to achieve the dubious distinction of the highest handicap in the league. But with luck and practice, perhaps I’ll improve.

Plus, it’s a chance to spend time with an international group of women I’d be unlikely to meet anywhere else. On my team are three Malay Singaporeans. Last week we played against a Filipina team. I’ve met interesting, accomplished women from England, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Pakistan, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. (Oddly, no other Americans, so far.) But there are also lots and lots of Singaporeans, as bowling is practically the national sport.

Singaporeans are hugely enthusiastic about their bowling. This might be because the lanes are indoors and air-conditioned; playing outdoor sports here involves a revolting quantity of sweat, except if you play at dawn or dusk, which are prime mosquito-feeding times. Or perhaps it’s an extension of the Singaporean love for all things American; the bowling pro who bored the holes in my ball told me all the bowling supplies and equipment were imported from the US. (Thankfully, this meant he had my shoe size.) It’s true that I’m a minor celebrity in the league just for having lived near a town with “Brunswick” in the name.

But whatever the reason, surprising numbers of people here are dedicated bowlers. When Joey’s office recently had a bowling outing, so many of them bowled in leagues that they had to group people into teams very carefully to avoid letting league team members play together. I think Joey was the only one without his own ball. And many Singaporeans start bowling early in life - the real bowling, mind you, not the birthday-party kind with bumpers in the gutters. A local friend of mine in her early 40s (and, it goes without saying, a league bowler) recently showed me her thumbs. The left one was perfectly straight, but the right one had a slight S-curve to it. “See?” she said. “That’s what thirty years of bowling every week will do. But it’s worth it, lah!”

And although I don’t have quite that much devotion to bowling, I do think it’s “worth it” to bowl for a season or two. Because who would’ve thought that American bowling would be a window onto life in Singapore?

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Who'd'a thunk it?

Helvetica Bowld....that was good!