I’m not a sports guy. Not by any means. I don’t know much of anything about just about any sport. I don’t go to games. I don’t even watch them on TV. Not even the big important games. If I were in WWII, if someone thought I was a spy and asked me who won the World Series in 1943, I’d end up being executed quicker than nothin’. I don’t even know who won the World Series THIS year. I barely even remember when it was – I mainly know it’s the end of October just because it’s what causes The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror to never actually air on Halloween. Likewise, I only know the Super Bowl’s in February because that’s when Animal Planet runs Puppy Bowl.
About the only sport I even enjoy participating in is bowling. I think bowling’s fun, even though I suck at it. But it’s about the only sport where I know the scoring pretty well, terminology and generally know what’s going on. Sometimes I’ll even watch it on television — usually if there’s nothing else on but I feel like watching TV, but still, that counts. (The only other sport I’ll sometimes watch is Sumo Wrestling, but I don’t know much about that, other than that it’s two fat guys hugging each other until one of them steps outside the ring. And that in matches the wrestlers seem to get winded and lean on each other for support while they take a breather.)
So, I can kind of see where folks can enjoy sports — and even though I don’t follow professional bowling at all, it’s easy to decide to root for someone. It’s mostly in little things — if someone has enough charisma, or seems like a nice guy, or doesn’t do anything that seems cocky or whatnot, it’s easy enough to hope that guy you have no idea about wins over the other guy you have no idea about.
In a way, though, sometimes the guy you end up rooting for has anti-charisma. I’m reminded of one match I saw between one guy and another guy. Both of these guys had names, but I don’t remember them. They both looked like doughy, middle-aged white guys, and I think one had a mustache, and one or both had glasses. One of the guys seemed OK enough, but the other guy… that was my guy.
All I remember about him that may or may not identify him was that his dad was also a bowling champion… and that he had this incredibly dour expression at all times. The latter trait gave him his nickname, Roast Beef (after the similarly depressed cat in Achewood). The only expression of joy he would have is when he got a strike — which was often — he would turn around, sullenly walk back to his area, but in mid-march, he’d shout “YEAH.” at the floor. It wasn’t a triumphant “Yeah” or anything, it almost sounded like a bark. Nor was it directed by anyone. Occasionally a half-hearted fist-pump accompanied it, but a more horizontal variation on the standard move.
It’s fun to make up stories about people that you don’t know… but in Roast Beef’s case, I don’t know how much of the assumed backstory was fiction. I figured that, given his famous (kinda) father, what had happened is that as a child, his dad forced him to practice bowling non-stop so he could carry on the Beef family name as world bowling champions. Roast Beef grew to hate bowling with a passion… but what was worse is that he had a talent for it. And even worse than that: It was his ONLY talent. So, in order to put food on the table and whatnot, he’s forced into fame doing the only thing he can do, and the only thing he hated worse than anything: Championship Bowling. Strikes provide a brief flash of joy — not for doing the best you can do in an individual frame, but only because the points they would bring would help keep him in the lead. Spares, on the other hand, meant — particularly at the championship level — lost points that the opponent could make up and take the one thing Beef had away from him.
And, the thing was: Roast Beef really was good. He won that match and the next with scores between 289-297. Beef was cursed to be an awesome bowler — even though many of us would gladly carry that curse. The rest of the world finds bowling enjoyable — the heft of the ball, the sound of the pins, the button you press to get air to come out of the little vent — but not Roast Beef. Roast Beef was the king. The king of a land he hated. The king of a land he’d raze if he could.
Poor Roast Beef.