Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Aren’t Americans Great At?

Last week the Giza Technology Consulting group had a group activity evening of bowling and dinner.  We headed out of the office at 4:30 and headed to the Herzeliyah mall for some good old 10 pin. At first, I could not understand why the entire group was so excited to see me bowl. It turns out that they were all under the impression that Americans are all incredible bowlers. I quickly debunked this stereotype.
When we arrived at the lanes, we divided the group of 8 into two lanes and got right into it. I was the last on my lane, lined up with Yamit, one of my best friends in the office, on the opposing lane. Our lane was kicked off by Tal, an Israeli girl that lived in Texas for several years in high school. Effortlessly, Tal rolled a spare to start off the game. I rolled a 4 (or maybe 7) in the first frame, and then proceeded to roll more gutters (almost all the left side) than I did balls that knocked down pins. The group was quickly disappointed to see that as I had promised, I SUCK(ED) at bowling. Yamit asked me “Yoel, how are you so bad at bowling? You are American.” Eyal, the manager of the technology group proposed “maybe it isn’t originally an American game. I hope so for your sake Yoel.” This of course led me to do some research. According to Wikipedia, primitive versions of bowling date back to ancient Egypt, but the game as we know it was created in New York in 1895. Alas, I have no nationality excuse. Towards the 6th frame, I was about 10 pins behind Yamit. I said to myself “that’s it Yoel, you need to turn this around. You are going to beat Yamit.” As we both approached the ball rack to start our turn, I looked at Yamit and said “I may be 10 pins behind you, but I am going to beat you this game.” She gingerly accepted the challenge.
By the end of the first game, the taunting of the group had changed to pitty. I rolled something like a 36. I came in dead last of all 8 players. Tal rolled over 100, as did Ori, who turned out to be the best bowler of the bunch. Needless to say, it was quite shameful, and Yamit was loving it. But wait, there was a second game to be played. This was to be the one I was going to turn it around. I set off strong, and within a few frames, I had fixed my game, rolled a few spares and was above my 10 pin per frame benchmark, on my way to breaking a hundred. Yamit started off slowly, and I was on a streak. Of course, my streak had to end. Yamit picked up her game, and I slipped up. Suddenly I was 20 pins behind! I did not lose my cool. I kept focused and worked on shrinking my pin deficit.
The game ended dramatically. I was 24 pins behind, Yamit had finished her game, and I knew I had to make my 9th frame count. I kept focused and BOOM, 8 pins down on the first ball. The second two needed a precision strike. Sure enough, I kept my cool, summoned all my very limited bowling skills and POW. Spare. I am in it to win it. All I needed on the next turn was 8 pins for the win. Before taking my 10th frame, I started my trash talking “Yamit, pay attention you are going down.” Off I went – the shot started off right, but like most of my rolls for the day, the ball veered left. I ended up with a solid 7 on my first shot. Three pins remained, and knocking down any one of them would lead me to victory. This is where I think I psyched myself out. I looked at Yamit and said “look, we are tied now. How about I just shoot the ball down and call it a tie.” In all honesty, this was just hedge. I completely intended to win. Of course, I didn’t. My ball went left (again) and missed the leftmost pin by a few inches. Game over, we tied. At this point, I figured Yamit would say good game and we’d be on our way. As I turned to tell Yamit that we were in fact the same level of bowling and that I was just warming up for the first game, she says to me “I am still a better bowler than you.” Although I argued that we were the same since we tied, she wasn’t hearing it. After a bit of debate, I had a realization that I have presented in the table below.

The table above presents mine and Yamit’s bowling performance in our two games of bowling. Yamit improved a respectable 48% from the first game to the second. However, at the same time, I improved a whopping 131%. This led me to the realization that had we played a third game, maintaining out respective improvement rates, I would have blown Yamit away in the third game with a killer score of 191 versus her would be 123. I plan on going bowling at least once while back in the US to work on my game in the hopes of a rematch when I will be able to demonstrate my bowling superiority over Yamit, and at the same time, return national pride to the US.

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