Russia’s naturist-expat bowlers bore the Expatdom’s longest unbroken run of beatings
yet-again last night at the hands of every other league team in the Expatdom. With 98%
of their bowls crashing into the gutters in just 35 minutes, the hapless Russians finally
bowed-out of this month’s semi-finals, and were reportedly not philosophic-in-defeat.
Meanwhile, at the far-end of the WCE’s prestigious Superlanes, Andis Kaulins continued to sparkle.
Boasting 127 lanes, the Expatdom’s glittering Ten Pin facilities attract bowlers from all over the world. Comprising three levels, two restaurants, numerous bars, and a synagogue, the
Expatdom’s lanes are unsurpassed.
Andis Kaulins, the Wuxi English Teacher, who is not to be confused with any of the three
other WCE Expats bearing the same name, nor with another who chases things in dusty deserts, last night continued his supreme form with his 27th run of scoring over 300-point games. Accepting the coveted gold trophy from guest-presnter, Chief Inspector Harry Callahan, Andis Kaulins acknowledged the thunderous applause with his customary grace, but, characteristically, politely declined the opportunity to address the vast crowd, such is his renowned humility.
Harry Moore takes up the story: “yes, of course I was there last night. Nobody in the Expatdom would miss the opportunity of seeing Andis claim 124 consecutive-strikes in but an hour.
Andis likes to vaporize his opponents quickly, but, despite my requests, he is too self-effacing to linger in the lanes after his victories.
“It was me, indirectly, I hasten to add, who had a very minor part in Andis becoming the undisputed Ten Pin champion of the Far East.
Must’ve been around a year ago. I was down here in the Wuxi lanes with an assortment of expat bowlers, and our scores that night were not good. At that time the Superlane management and staff were becoming increasingly-anxious. League-teams were down in numbers, and one got the impression that the sport of the ten-pins was on the wane here in the Expatdom.
“I told the boys that I'd try to persuade Andis Kaulins to come down here. I am
not an expert by any means, but I know a potential champion when I see one, and Andis
had the right aptitude and skills, - if only he would come down here.
That was no easy task.
Andis enjoys nothing-better in the evenings than compiling lists of subjunctive clauses
and compiling syntax assignments. I got through to him that night on his mobile, but his initial response to ten-pin bowling was unenthusiastic. If only we’d known!
“Andis said that he’d been to some obscure lanes in Winnipeg once, and was not impressed.
Andis told me:- “I am not keen on sweaty locker-rooms, with all those phereonomes, vaporized testosterone and Old Spice deodorant. No refinement. Butt-snapping towels, corporate guys who become jackasses after stripping down, and all that. No, Harry, not for me.”
The other expats, Wally and the boys, were morose when I told them. But I resolved to try again the following week, and then Andis said that he’d come down to the Lanes for just a couple of minutes, but only to grab a Pepsi and just have a look at the scene.
“Since then, Andis is a fixture here at least three nights a week. He overcame his derision for the sport, and well, the rest, as they say, is history. Ten-pin bowling in Wuxi is luxuriating in a new Golden Age ever since Andis Kaulins faced the pins that night a year ago.
He is unassailable.
Harry Moore provides a vivid description of Kaulin’s style. “Andis usually arrives at around
7pm, after he has finished his school tasks. He enters, preceded by a lithesome lady in a gold bikini who holds a banner aloft bearing the initials ‘AK’. With the strains of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” pulsating through the auditorium, I always have difficulty seeing him until he has waded through his ocean of autograph-seeking fans. That usually takes up to an hour.
“I position myself close to the lane that bears his name. Amid the anticipatory-buzz, Andis approaches the ball-chute. By then he has changed into his iconic shorts, and, upon his winged-heels, a pair of his trademark, high-performance shoes, which are smoothed with linseed oil.
A hush descends upon the throng of at least 200,000 spectators.
A shower of powder, and then, from his monographed bag of Thai silk, Andis produces his ball. It weighs sixteen pounds, formed from the world’s-finest polyester, and most us need sunglasses at that point, such is its polished glint. It shines brighter than tinsel, as does Andis’ hair.
His sinewy, sturdy, fingers insert themselves into the cushioned grips. Then in utter silence, the real show begins.
Andis strides forward, his gaze fastened on the pins. He doesn’t merely ‘look’ at the pins, not in the conventional sense. In that moment Andis is a Serengeti lion, his eyes unblinking. He regards the pins with the same intensity as a gunslinger of yore; a crouched-beaver’s passionate stare at an unsuspecting salmon; a surgeon contemplating an intricate procedure; a fighter-pilot’s squint; a bull-fighter’s concentration; a picture of supreme focus. He stands tall, powerful legs stretched wide, - a white-spruce personified.
“Then, wordlessly, silently, Andis begins the quickening tempo to the line, - one, two, three steps, a symphony of mind and body, and then – the explosive release.
Quicker than the eye can follow.
The pins shatter in a smashing climax, yet Andis turns away, for by now no power nor persuasion can interfere with a clean strike. Scorekeepers and spectators rise as one, the lanes a temple to the Man from Manitoba.
“Andis steps back into pandemonium. Expats sobbing their praise, struggling to touch his sleeve. Cheeks are wet, voices hoarse, chests heaving”, Moore continues. “When his bowling is over, I get the feeling that the vast crowd took a deep breath, that they had forgotten how to breathe, as they didn’t want to miss Andis’ bowling. Women are weeping into handkerchiefs, men cross themselves.”
- “I never tire of the spectacle. One night in the Superlanes I told Andis that he is nothing-less than the majestic maestro of movement, to which he shrugged, and calmly refuted with his customary diffidence. “But then”, Moore concludes, “just as the multitude rushes forward to offer their praise, Andis is gone. Yes, he disappears, - most likely he returns alone to his desk to read the customary sackloads of 150,000 congratulatory letters and emails that pour in after every game, before returning to his English texts”.