Column: Envy of others’ skills doesn’t extend to bowling

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 15, 2001

She no longer lives on this plane of existence, but I once had a friend in a nearby town.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

She no longer lives on this plane of existence, but I once had a friend in a nearby town. She was interested in writing as I was and am. So we used to get together on Sunday afternoons at either her house or mine and read to each other what we had written during the week.

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This went on for some months and I found it a pleasure and then one day she said something that as Poirot might say, &uot;gave me to think.&uot;

What she said was, &uot;Our friendship will be over when I get published before you do.&uot;

It startled me because I have never thought of myself as very competitive. As I pointed out to her, I had at least two friends already, both of them younger than I, who had had their books published and far from being upset, I was honestly delighted for them.

When I was a child I used to wonder about where my family fit in on the economic ladder. My friends all had new bicycles and I had a second-hand one. My friends had far more spending money than I, until I got a baby sitting job. On the other hand, my folks bought a World Book Encyclopedia for me, while my friends went to the library to look up information they needed.

I can’t remember that anything someone else owned stirred a feeling of envy in me. I’m not so sure about the accomplishments of other people. I think that sometimes I feel the way Shakespeare did when he wrote that sonnet. You know the one starts —

&uot;When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes&uot;

I don’t have a copy of Shakespeare with me at the moment, so I probably am not quoting correctly, but I seem to remember the lines —

&uot;And wish myself like him more rich in hope

Features like him, like him of friends possessed

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope.&uot;

I especially could do well with &uot;this man’s art and that man’s scope.&uot; I was thinking about it the other day when having tea with a good friend. We are almost the same age, she being but a year younger. To an uninformed observer, though, there would appear to be a difference of something like at least 20 or 25 years. My friend dashes around accomplishing all kinds of good and helpful things. I watch television.

Moreover, she bowls. She not only bowls, but she bowls strikes and wins prizes and the like. My own feeling about bowling is one of the greatest ambivalence. I can’t say that my prayers at night include any pleas that I awake in the morning ready to rush forth, seize a bowling ball and have at it.

More years ago, though, then I can remember I was one of four hopeful would-be bowlers with a turn for learning the skill. I believe the other three did all right. After the last game we had together it seemed best to discontinue our association.

Though, I will say, that they were quite tolerant about the incident and on the whole I feel that they felt as I did about that awful man in the next alley. After all, bowling is a sport. And if one is not to be sportsman-like about a sport, what is one to be sportsman-like about? I ask you.

What made the man’s attitude particularly cruel was that it was a moment of triumph for me. In it I achieved the highest score I had so far managed. A 27.

And for that man to say it shouldn’t count simply because it rolled down his alley instead of mine is ridiculous. The pins got knocked down, didn’t they? Just because I had a little unfortunate twist in the way I threw shouldn’t have been held against me. After all, it was the twist I was trying to overcome. It kept getting the bowling ball in the gutter.

The man was quite nasty about that, too. He said getting every ball I threw into the gutter was one thing, but when the balls started going in other people’s alleys it was downright dangerous. I was, he said, a menace to all decent, God-fearing bowlers.

If that man is still alive and reads this, I hope he realizes that he ruined any chance of my gaining proficiency at the game. Moreover, the ball was always on the floor so his remark about throwing it at his head was sheer balderdash.

And while I applaud my friend’s skill at the game, when I &uot;desire this man’s art and that man’s scope,&uot; it has nothing to do with bowling.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.