Peter grips the heavy ball in his right hand and eyes the pins with deadly seriousness. He shuffles forward a little, and then stops, lines up the pins. They guard the area like sentinels in a tight formation at the other end of the lane.
Our eyes fall on him as he stands erect, back straight, muscles taut, biceps bulging. Peter remains motionless for a moment poised like the Greek sculpture of the God Hermes at the Art Gallery before springing forward. In the darkened cavernous rooms of the bowling club, with the rolling thunder in our ears, my students and I are transformed into bowling fiends. Each hides a wicked smile and a secret plan to overcome the others in a 'friendly' game. The combatants take up the challenge as they change their shoes and prepare their weapons as they choose their ball.
Then, without a word spoken Peter moves forward with steely determination towards the pins, they stand their ground waiting for the inevitable. He swings the heavy black ball underarm in a half-moon fashion. The ball flies as it is released from his vice like grip. The momentum generated by Peter's efforts propels the ball forward. The ball lands with a thud on the polished lane and skids off in the direction of the pins. Our eyes follow its short journey as it circles away spinning backwards but moving forwards.
All of a sudden, it veers off a little to the left then steadies itself for a few seconds. Peter's body sways in a peculiar rhythm and his arms rise as if he is a magician conjuring up a spell to mesmerise the ball and direct it only with the power of his craft. Some-how it works, and the ball comes back a little to occupy the centre of the lane during the last part of its journey. Then, it straightens up completely as it meets the pins with a rolling crash.
Most of the pins go flying to smash against the mouth of the opening while others topple left and right but refuse to succumb. Peter wakes from his trance like state, his body assumes the gentleness of a cultured student and his face softness as he turns around to reveal a beautiful smile. He walks back to his seat grinning to his friends as they all raise their hands for a much-celebrated 'high five'.
Strike bowling at the Queen Victoria Shopping Complex in the city of Melbourne is great value for anyone wanting to descend into a nether world of karaoke, Laser-tag, music video, a fully stocked bar and endless fun with friends and foe alike. I love spending time there with my students and watching them come alive to exercise the power of youth and to flex their muscles. After 5pm, patrons only pay twenty dollars for as much bowling as they like.
Go ahead I always say. Enjoy the moment. Immerse yourself in the shear joy and spectacular beauty of being alive. Let your hair down, convalesce, watch and listen, have a beer, take a moment to laugh at yourself as you line up the pins and never forget to truly understand the motto so aptly written on the wall of the bowling complex, 'What happens in the gutter stays in the gutter'. Have a happy day!