By Dobie Maxwell – www.dobiemaxwell.com
Living close to a state line can have its downside. There are often clashing traditions that aren’t shared on both sides of said line, and one is forced to develop new habits when venturing over to the other side. Being from Wisconsin, naturally I was introduced to bowling at a very early age.
People always think I’m kidding when I say we were taught in school how to score at bowling but I’m completely serious. It must have been third or fourth grade, but I clearly remember when our teacher brought out the pencils and the score sheets and we learned a skill to be used in life.
I’m surprised they didn’t introduce us to the beer frame while they were at it, but that would be something most Cheeseheads would pick up sooner than later anyway. I think they were trying to insure at least a little bit of brain activity in our adulthoods so they taught us how to keep proper score.
I was never a fanatic about bowling like so many Wisconsinites can be, but I joined a fair share of leagues in my day and in a pinch I could still probably pick up a stubborn ten pin if necessary, even though it’s been years since I even picked up a bowling ball. How to do it is still inside me.
Then years later I moved to Illinois, and I noticed that although it’s only one state and not a lot of miles away bowling isn’t nearly as popular south of the border as it was where I grew up. Why this is I don’t know, but I do notice it. If the state of Wisconsin started putting bowling averages on driver’s licenses as part of one’s identification, I doubt many would give it a second thought.
In Illinois, it seems to be an afterthought. I was with some friends the other day and they asked if I had any ideas on what they could do with a spare afternoon and I suggested bowling to which they looked at me with an expression very similar to the one we all get when stepping into a full litter box barefoot in the dark. They were from Illinois, and I am not. There’s a subtle difference.