Baby split with company: The 2-7-8 or 3-9-10.

So, if you are not sure what Baby split with company means, you are not alone.  Perhaps it is because you are not a serious enough bowler and even if you are, perhaps you learned to bowl in a different jurisdiction than where this term is used.  It seems, upon a preliminary research quest, that even in bowling language there are dialects.

Fence posts: The 7-10 split. (bed posts, goal posts, mule ears, snake eyes)

I love bowling.  I love bowling alleys more.  Like many things, I've become reacquainted with them since having kids.  I have been reminded of their charm and their elusive je ne sais quo that persists even as I experience them as an adult.  With a few exceptions, bowling alleys, while many of them have been outmanoeuvred and have been supplanted by storage facilities and pubs, have, if they have survived, endured largely unchanged.  What exists already works fine and is functional enough that they don't need to be replaced.  Its brand is synonymous with being designed in the 1950s.   Some lanes have been spruced up with some day glow lighting and live dj nights but on the whole, a big part of their appeal is their nostalgic atmosphere. When I go bowling, not often enough, I expect to be transported to another time.  New snacks have replaced the old and you can't smoke there anymore, but overall things are the same and I like the experience of brushing against the well worn chrome and linoleum seating, sporting the shoes and scooping up a smooth bowling ball as it returns from its mysterious travels inside the mechanism of the bowling machine.  My grandmother was extremely stylish and much of her home held the vestiges of the peak of her style era, the 50s.  Going to bowling alleys helps me imagine her still living in the same town, functioning in a world furnished with the same drapes and fixtures.

Kresge: Whereas the 5-10 split is called the Woolworth or Dime Store, the 5-7 is often called the Kresge

I entered a bowling alley recently and between rounds I curiously read the notices on the wall.  There was the menu and the no smoking signs (which seem so out of place in a place that still holds on tight to the last exhaled puffs of smokes that used to be permitted) of course.  However, I could not understand a word on most of the other ad-hoc posted signs.  As I read each sign and tried to decipher their meaning it was confirmed that bowling alleys have two lives.  One is the one that captures our public imagination, that of pre-schooler birthday parties and bowling leagues for seniors.  This half of its image exudes benign innocence.  The other, well, I don't know much about it, but based on these notices, is some kind of private club.  People who go to bowling alleys during the day and late at night and have for years talk about bowling in a strange language that extends way beyond, "I got a strike".  I have to re-learn the scoring method each and every time I visit one, but this recent trip revealed a thin veil behind which there is a fellowship that plays almost a different game.  It is like discovering that snakes and ladders has a secret-other- life as a complex game of chance and intrigue hidden in plain site.  I always kind of suspected this secret fellowship existed, but now I 'm more convinced.

One­in­the­dark: Rear pin in the 1-5, 2-8 or 3-9 spare. (barmaid, bicycle, double wood, mother­in­law, sleeper, tandem)

After encountering all these interesting signs, I began to wonder once again, what really does go on in the chambers behind where the pins are re-set.  Perhaps I should show up some weekday morning at 10 a.m. without my preschooler and do some undercover detective work.

Umbrella ball: A high hit on the nose resulting in a strike.

These abandoned bowling alleys photos are haunting and lend credence to my suspicions that there is more going on than meets the uninitiated eye.

This Bowling language glossary does not clear much up about what I still don't know about bowling terms.