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Born With a Rusty Spoon: Episode 74

Continuing her autobiography, Bertie Stroup Marah tells why her mom hated bowling.

One of the most memorable things that happened while I was living with my folks was when I learned about Mama's bowling calamity. Knowing nothing of her bowling history, I innocently suggested one evening that they might enjoy bowling with Reita and Sam. I wasn't prepared for Mama's angry reaction; her pleasant face transformed, her mouth pulled down by a scowl.

"I wouldn't go bowling if they gave me the damned joint," she said through clenched teeth.

I was stunned by her reaction, which seemed to come out of nowhere. From the way RG. hid his snicker with his hand and rolled his eyes, I knew whatever it was would be good. After a bit of coaxing, I was treated to the story of what happened the year before, when Reita and Sam took them bowling for the first time in their lives.

Being a very physical woman, Mama loved to exhibit her strength. When it came her turn to bowl, she chose the heaviest ball on the rack. She jammed her fingers into holes that were obviously meant for smaller hands.

All eyes on her, she swaggered to the start line. Gripping the ball, she reared back, thinking she might just knock the wall out at the end of the bowling alley, perhaps demolish all the pins. Her mighty swing and too-snug grip, combined with the weight of the ball, pulled her head first bouncing and sliding several yards down the alley, peeling the skin from her chin and elbows.

When she finally got up, the ball was still attached to her fingers. Writhing in pain and fighting back tears, she screamed at those laughing on the sidelines.

"You can take this bowling shit and go to hell!" She freed her fingers from the ball and stormed out.

She was never much of a sports fan and would often say, "I wish they would take that damned sports stuff off TV." After her unhappy experience, bowling was at the top of her list of annoying sports.


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