I took second place in the National Crabapple Bowling contest, an achievement deserving of laud and honor. Right? Right?

There were no playoffs leading up to the championship. It was a one-time event, brought about by a crabapple tree, a downward-sloping road, and a bored grandfather and granddaughter.

The crabapple tree sits across the street from the end of our driveway. My granddaughter and I walk down to the roadway each school day and have five to ten minutes to kill before the bus arrives.

Early in October, my granddaughter picked up a small green apple and gave it an underhanded toss. The apple rolled energetically downward. Three things influenced its behavior: the apple’s shape (somewhat less than spherical), the road’s surface (crowned in the middle as it should be, but in general need of repair), and the careless release of the tosser.

The apple traveled haphazardly for about 20 feet before angling off the road.

“I can do better than that,” I said picking up an apple of my own. Having seen many a bowling contest on TV in my younger days, I eyed the road, hunched forward, took a few bowler-like steps, and let fly, my arm swinging gracefully forward. The apple rolled about 15 feet before leaving its lane and seeking refuge in the woods.


My granddaughter gave me a smug smile.

“Okay,” I said. “Those were both warm-up tosses. Now the contest begins.”

Let’s take a moment for a brief flashback. Years ago when my daughter (this girl’s mother) was a kid, she challenged me to a sit-up contest. At the time, I was on active duty in the Army and insanely fit. I always got a max score on the Army physical fitness test and could do tons of sit-ups.

“You go first,” my daughter had said. She was thin as a rail, and obviously no match for my warrior-like prowess. Nonetheless, in a kindhearted, fatherly fashion, I accepted her challenge

She held my feet as I, knees bent in the proper form, knocked out 80 sit-ups. I could have done ten or so more, but not wanting to discourage her, figured that 80 was plenty. We traded places. She began with great energy, effortlessly going up and down. It was comical because surely she couldn’t maintain that frantic pace for long. She was at 150 and still going strong when I conceded. The shame lives with me still.

When I challenged my granddaughter to a crabapple bowling contest, the memory of that sit-up disaster flickered for a second, but was quickly buried.

I bowled and she bowled. And I bowled and she bowled. And I bowled and she bowled. We continued until we ran out of crabapples.

My defeat was witnessed by a crow that sat high in a tree and cawed loudly, announcing to the world my unwise tendency to compete against female progeny.

I did, nonetheless, take second place. That’s an achievement deserving of laud and honor. Right? Right?

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