by Cecile Cinco
If you want to learn something like a skill, whether because it really interests you or you found opportunities to earn later, it will take time, patience and dedicated study and application for you to make the skill second nature. Being gifted (like in drawing or painting, or playing any musical instrument by heart) is another thing. You do not have to learn because you know it already. Say, you wanted to play tennis because you wanted to be able to whack the ball and direct it to your imagination’s direction. If you are good in estimated calculation, you can easily figure out how high, how fast, and how should the ball be whacked. If you do not have that natural estimation, you will have to go through so much practice and analysis and adjusting accordingly to get the perfect combination.
There was a time I did not know how to play a ten-pin bowling. (Duckpin bowling is worse. It is easier to play the ten-pin than the duckpin bowling!) Twenty three (23) years ago, I was introduced to bowling because where I worked a fun game was to be held 3 weeks later. The person who taught me (I forgot his name!) was patient. He taught me logically. We played about 5 games from Monday to Thursday. Since the bowling house was just a few meters away from where we worked, we played after work, before dinner. When we had the fun game, it was a Double Dutch. Everyone is paired. For the first 5 frames, if the first bowler did not get a strike, the other will try to spare it. For the next 5 (or 7, if the last frame was a strike) frames, the order will be reversed. There were more than a hundred of us who played. We got the champion trophy. So I got inspired. I thought I can do better. I bought my own ball, second hand, 16.5 lbs heavy! I had no choice, it was cheap so I had to make do with it.
It did not come easy. It was hard work and body paid. Good thing it was not automatic so price per game was only Php6.50! That time automatic alleys were priced at Php75.00 per game. It was costly for me since my salary was minimum wage. Frequent bowlers noticed my playing and played with me. They were longtime bowlers. At least 5 years. I learned more when I played with them. I noticed their moves, where they stood, how they threw the ball. Most had mannerisms, like one would do 3 squats in position before bowling. As for me I always stood at the edge because I took 5 strides instead of the usual 3.
Having been playing for a couple of months, loser’s pay was a common deal. Another is, each player chips in a specific amount and the winner takes all. One time there were 9 players, all men. I was invited to be the tenth. I said I haven’t played such and I don’t gamble. Someone who had been watching me play paid for my game. I won. That started others to challenge me, loser’s pay. I never challenged anyone but I never backed out either. Oftentimes I had no money at the time I answered to the challenge. I never paid what I did not have either. Often, my games were free. After barely six months I was invited to join a group for a tourney open to anyone in the city. It was the time I had my kneecap dislocated when I learned to play golf (that’s another story) which made me miss several games. When I was healing I played without striding. I got the 3rd place for the women’s singles, the top 2 were ten and five years playing. During that time I had been playing about 10-20 games a day. It was not easy. I enjoyed, though.
It was shortlived because I had to move where all the bowling alleys were automatic, no bowling friends and no budget to play. After 18 years I played once a year for the housing broker I was connected with. There were almost 150 players. I got the top singles 4 years in a row. I had no real practice because it was expensive but my earlier hard work paid off. It was no shortcut. It was dedicated playing. Now my fingers are hurting. I am not as good as I used to be but give me 3 games and I’ll be back to my usual average. At least close enough.
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