“I suck at bowling,” Nick announced when I told him my plan.
“I suck at it too,” I said. “In fact, I suck more than you.”
This is when he told me a thing isn’t worth doing unless you do it well.
“If a thing is worth doing,” I said, “It’s worth doing badly.”
I believe this. I curse the pedant who ruined things for millions of children by using if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well as a sort of upwardly mobile credo.
At the bowling alley we meet up with Jay and Caroline, the two-egg twins, and their dad, Eduardo.
Caroline is the daughter I never had. She stares right back at me.
“Hello, Wolfie,” she says, and promptly rolls a strike.
My plan is to aim outside and attempt to knock down fewer pins than Nick. (We had the attendant raise the gutter bars so every ball would hit something.) But after a couple of innings (they’re not called that, are they?) it’s clear I’m not good enough to control my score, which flashes next to Nick’s on the overhead screen. Fortunately he’s not looking.
“Dad! This is great! Can I get a bowling ball?”
“Sure,” I say.
Then Jay wants his own ball.
“Sure,” says Eduardo.
Two innings later, the boys lose interest in the game.
Eduardo and I give each boy a dollar and they run off to play video games.
It sucks! It’s great! I’m bored! Next! I sense a pattern here.
Caroline, meanwhile, finishes her game. Her look of concentration on her last throw, which knocks down two pins, hasn’t changed from that first strike.
I’m reading a book that bears on all this. It’s Michael Gurian’s, The Wonder of Boys. I can’t vouch for the rest of the book yet, but the first chapter, about the effects of testosterone on the brain, is a revelation. Here’s the scoop: Biology is proclivity. Girls hear better, pay attention longer, talk easier. Boys go from one thing to another, tension/release, tension/release. A boy is a whiz at at spatial relations, and loves moving things around. Not all boys and girls, but most.
Historical note: the idea of biology-based behavior used to be called “essentialism” in universities, and was frowned on. If you frown on biology, then you must find another explanation for why women on testosterone become better at math and physics.
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