Once a Man, Twice a Child

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


   Historians disagree on the source and date of the expression: once a man and twice a child. My vote goes for Plato’s version penned in 400 BC.

I–and many others–chuckle about the truth that lies therein–and the importance of its recognition by each generation. In the here and now, I have been struck directly between the eyes with the impact of the expression’s personal application.

I was in the presence of a bowling crowd of witnesses–both friends and grandchildren–some of whom are still laughing at my pratfalls. There also were onlookers on other lanes and getting grins from the spectacle I made of myself during a miserable performance in what I formerly called “my lifetime sport.”

During a single game–just 10 frames–I realized I no longer have a lifetime sport. The outing was to be a carryover from my college bowling PE class 60 years ago. Hey, I thought a 150 average was pretty good, and for several adult years, I was on a league bowling team.

I bragged to my bunch en route to the lanes about my “one sport,” once scoring 276 in a league game. The youngsters were not impressed–probably not even listening–as they played games on their iPhones or iPads or whatever. They likely would have remained unimpressed if I showed them the trophy I was presented for the 276 game. I may never know, since I can’t find it.

“I’ll show them,” I vowed as we entered Pincenter Bowl, jarred by the realization that I’d forgotten my 16-pound bowling ball, the one with initials engraved thereon. The ball–as well as my bowling shoes–were purchased in 1957, and are “bagged” somewhere in the attic. I hadn’t bowled in at least a dozen years, and knew not where to find them. “No matter,” I muttered. “I’ll just use a house ball and rent shoes.”

So much about bowling has changed. They now have “pop-up” bumpers for young bowlers, making it impossible to throw gutter balls. As it turned out, these bumpers–in place at the push of a button–were helpful to me, too. I also noticed message boards above the pins providing miscellaneous information, such as the speed of bowling balls.

Most of the children, even after several bumper encounters on the way down the lane, recorded speeds of 6-7-8 miles per hour. My first roll told me much. First off, the 16-pound ball selected seemed to weigh at least 30, and during my approach, I heard creaks coming from leg and arm joints I didn’t even know I had. They seemed to be singing the same chorus, something about “please lubricate us.”

My face was a crimson reflection from the shiny lane as the ball wobbled slowly forward, bouncing off bumpers, left and right. I guess I even shook up the message board. Despite my hitting two pins, the MPH message failed to appear. Finally, it did, saying: “Please roll the ball. Remember, others are waiting.”

That’s the way the game went. I chose a 10-pound ball for the other nine frames, scoring 98, thanks to the bumpers. All the grandchildren scored in the three figures.

I was spent physically, unable to throw another ball. Thankfully, the grandkids were happy to leave, too. I’d also promised a visit to Cleburne’s Burger Bar, where hamburgers have been served from a 12×12-foot structure since 1958.

Before we left Pincenter Bowl, however, I checked to see if they could order a ball with a 16-pound “look,” but infused with helium so it would feel much lighter. I’d prefer a ball that “feels” like a 5-pounder, six at the most. I don’t want too much helium injected. It would be the ultimate embarrassment if I happened to loft the ball a bit, and it became airborne.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com. Columns archived at venturegalleries.com, newbury blog.