Trash talk is fun, right? Politicians do it. Athletes do it. Morbidly obese fifty-year-old men that live in their mothers’ basements do it. Just go to any sports site and you can waste an entire day – “waste” being the operative word here – reading the hilarious and sometimes crazy scary comments that are written back and forth between the super obsessed fans of any professional sport. Yet should my team lose, I can still save face because even if I secretly suspect that I have the He-Man power to will my team to win or jinx them to fail, I know in the depths of my mere mortal heart that I had nothing to do with either outcome.

But it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame when you’re playing the sport; then you have no one to blame but your unskilled self. I don’t usually trash talk about my physical prowess because, well, I don’t often have the opportunity. I run solo, so there’s no exercise partner to eat my dust, and it seems a tad inappropriate to ridicule the elderly man I see wobbling down the sidewalk in a full three-piece suit and cane everyday since I already scare the bejeezus out of him whenever I whiz by. I think he might be hard of hearing so my derisive efforts would go unappreciated anyway. And though I could kick some serious sun salutation ass, it seems wrong to brag about it given the whole namaste shtick they preach in yoga.

So I best I can do is trash talk about my pseudo skills in pseudo sports such as the fine game of bowling. Now before some of you out there start hooting and hollering that bowling is a sport… Calm down. I will retract my statement when bowling is added to the roster of Olympic events or a Congressional probe is launched to investigate the alleged doping of those who live and die by the pin. That’s when bowling becomes a real sport.

Anyway… I did a lot of bowling as a kid, yet have no idea why. I don’t know if my dad was banking on me becoming the next Ernie McCracken or it was simply a way to entertain me for a few hours; regardless, I was at the alley a lot. I also bowled quite a bit with friends. Some adolescents get their kicks swiping a bottle of whiskey from the old man’s liquor cabinet or seeing how cool they look smoking in the girls’ bathroom. My crew preferred a little pin action, and eventually I became cocky in my bowling clout.

But that was a long-ish time ago. Now I bowl maybe once every two or three years. Not often enough to keep me in my prime; however, though my actual skills may have deteriorated over the years, my bravado has not. So come last weekend when I had the chance to throw down, I was ready to obliterate my competition, and I let him know it. More than once in the days leading up to our bowling face-off, I warned my rival of his inevitable demise. I think the words “I am going to destroy you” might have even left my mouth at some point. His response? An amiable “okay.”

My first ball was a gutter.

Happens to everyone. I immediately shook it off and announced that I just needed to warm up a bit. Soon enough, I got into a groove and was consistently taking down eight or nine pins each round. I even got a couple of spares. Still, I knew I couldn’t make good on my trash talk until that elusive first strike.

That’s when my foe went ahead and got one before me. I could feel a thin layer of sweat beginning to form over my body, and it wasn’t from physical exertion. What was going on here? I hadn’t bowled a game without making at least one strike… ever. At least that’s the way I remembered it in my mind. Time to rally.

And I got one. Meaning, I got one pin. I was imploding fast. Though I had been leading throughout the game, my opponent suddenly overtook me in the eighth round, and I never recovered. Nor did I ever get a strike.

“Wanna play again?” he excitedly asked. Damn right I did. Now my pride was on the line.

The second game went a little like this: he bowled either a spare or a strike each time, and I continued down my spiral of shame and didn’t even crack a hundred. Needless to say, he won – by a lot – though I was put out of my misery fairly quickly because of his numerous strikes. So did he rant? Did he rave? Did he shout, “In your face, sucka!” while doing a happy dance around my humiliated self? Nope.

The best trash talk is when you don’t have to say anything at all.

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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