The tenth frame

OK, so it was only four years of bowling but, boy, was it fun while it lasted. Starting in January 2010, I had bowled on Tuesday nights with a changing cast of friends in a coed beer league that offered relaxation and friendly competition.

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Last night marked the end to our season and an end to bowling, period, at the venerable Hollywood Bowl, which is closing for good on June 2.  Earlier this year, a property brokerage firm announced a pending sale of the building, with an Orchard Building Supply store the most likely next occupant.

The just-concluded winter league had 16 teams (well, 15 that finished) that bowled over 15 weeks, so last night was a “fun bowl” where scores didn’t count and prize winnings were handed out to all the teams. We received the thinnest envelope, I’m sorry to say, after a season that featured a combination of demoralizing close losses and blowouts where we never had a chance.

End result: 23 wins, 37 losses, and a 15th-place finish. The only team below us disbanded halfway through the season so if you discount them, we actually finished in dead last. Ah, well. The way I saw it, we made a lot of other teams feel good at our expense. And our poor showing didn’t get in the way of drinking beer and playing bowling poker — one card for a spare, two cards for a strike and make your best poker hand out of however many cards you accumulate. At a dollar ante per person, each pot was worth a whopping four bucks.

For a variety of reasons, I was the only member of my team able to attend Tuesday’s finale. I joined another foursome and bowled my best two games of the season: 185, 173.

Of course, it didn’t count.

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My team, the Broken Taco Shells, had a dozen different members over the four-year span. At one point, we had eight active bowlers so we split up into two teams. My three teammates and I rebranded ourselves as the Steamin’ Chalupas and wound up bowling ourselves to a first-place finish for the season.

We reverted to a single team after that and fell back into the middle of the pack. Hard to achieve consistency when we had six and seven people dropping in and dropping out, depending on their work schedules and family commitments.

Last place or not, thanks for the memories, teammates: Erin, Beth, Morgan, Brian, John, Ellie, Lynn, Kelly, Steve, Paul and Colleen.

And, finally, a shout-out to Lori for being a good sport about me being gone most Tuesday nights. From here on out, we’ve now got another free evening.

Photograph: Hollywood Bowl

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