Roll ‘Em, Roll ‘Em, Roll ‘Em


by Annie B. McKee

Meridian, Mississippi





The “Three Hundred or Bust” bowling team made it to the final playoff, and it was looking good.  All eight team members were in the prime of their bowling expertise. The workouts were teeth gnashing and muscle bruising but so-o-o worth it.

The Magnolia Grove County Grand Championship Bowling Jamboree was set for Saturday morning, and the girls gathered for their final strategy. The opposing team was the well-known “Gutter and Die” group of throat cuttin’ bowling women from over at the penitentiary. Just to mention their name brought fright and terror, and not only to the women, but to the men folk as well. 

However, the “Three Hundred or Bust” bowling girls were no slouches in the terror category. It was a well-known fact their secret weapon was the “Three M’s,” and we ain’t talking about chocolate candy. No, the “Three M’s” were Mavis, Mildred, and Maxine.

As time marched on toward the championship game, all three girls were a little peeved and testy.  Mildred once again brought up the subject of lane selection for the team.

“We have to make certain we have Lane 13,” Mildred stated for the third time.

“No-o-o,” answered a multitude of voices. “The number 13 will bring bad luck.”

Mildred continued, “But the lighting is so good, you know, for our skin tones and it’s located near the Ladies Room. I think Lane 13 is best for us.”

Without a blink of the eye Maxine started a new conversation, “Girls, don’t you think we should accessorize our uniforms bringing in the most updated fashion trends?”

“Great idea,” Mavis answered. “And why not allow the sporting goods store the opportunity to dress us – a gem of publicity for them, I’d say. Yes, I’m certain that many high-end stores would be delighted to supply all of us new uniforms, now that we are so famous and all.”

Maxine added, “Don’t forget new bowing shoes – all to match our outfits, of course.”

Mildred once again brought up the subject of lane selection.  “It’s Lane 13, I tell you, that will make the difference between champions and losers. I feel it in my bones.”

“Oh, okay.”  Both Mavis and Maxine yelled in unison.

“Good, I’ll make the call.” She left the room and a couple of minutes later returned grinning ear to ear. “Lane 13 is ours and all set to go.”

All three self proclaimed leaders of the “Three Hundred or Bust” bowling team once again looked over their “to do” list as they prepared for the most exciting moment of their lives.  This bowling team emerged out of nowhere (or so it seemed) and to be bowling champions of the entire county took their breath away, or something did ‘cause they all seemed to gasp for breath more often than not.

“Check. Check. Check. Let’s see, we’ve selected our lane, made arrangements for new shoes and uniforms, made appointments with the radio station and newspaper. What else?” Maxine pondered over each item.

“Uh-oh, we forgot to make hair appointments,” Mavis yelled. “And I was a-thinking that we might as well have our nails done and pedicures too. Oh, yes, and a massage for everyone. We can probably have a shop do all of it for free since we are almost champions.” The calls went out and Mavis returned with a smile, “All done – this is fun,” she said.

“Is there anything else important?” Mildred asked the ladies.

“Uh-err, well, we could practice our bowling game,” Maxine said slowly.

“Oh, that,” Mildred suddenly remembered. “Okay, what is good for everyone – how about Tuesday morning?”

“That’s our new uniform fitting time,” Mavis answered.

Mildred tried again, “Then Wednesday afternoon – no, wait, that’s our interview with the newspaper and radio station. Hmm, this is getting complicated.”

Maxine added, “Well, the television station will air the championship game live so that interview will happen on Saturday morning when we’re announced as the Grand Bowling Champions of Magnolia Grove County and presented the beaut-i-ful trophy. I hope so anyway,” Maxine said with a sigh.

“Hmm,” everyone studied the obvious time crunch.

“I suppose we could squeeze in a practice Thursday afternoon after our nail and pedicure appointments,” Mildred asked.

“No,” came a chorus of voices. “And mess up our nails?”

Mildred shook her head, “Oh that’s right. We will decide a practice time later.”

So concluded the strategy meeting.

The days flew by in a huge blur, and before the girls could blink a freshly made-up eye (no time for an eye lift, unfortunately), it was TIME – time to become the Bowling Champion Team of Magnolia Grove County.

As Mildred, Mavis, and Maxine, plus the entire “Three Hundred or Bust” bowling team, marched to Lane Number 13, they pranced as the best looking women’s bowling team on the circuit, and all eyes turned their way. “You Go Girls” and “Ah-Huh” was heard throughout the entire bowling alley. Yes, the girls knew that they looked good, real good, and turned around and around to give the entire “look” to all of their fans. As the team settled into their audacious, but at the same time unassuming, warm-up calisthenics, there were groans heard from the stands. The groans grew louder and louder and became an outright howl -- along with, it seemed, the gnashing of teeth.  Could it be? Yes, the “Gutter and Die” team was making their way into the bowling alley.

This bunch of girls seemed down right shabby in appearance and protocol when compared to the darlings of the bowling arena on the most important day in Magnolia Grove County bowling history. Mavis, Mildred, Maxine, and the other “Three Hundred or Bust” bowling team members could not help but notice the extreme need for, well, just about everything – everything important, that is, for their opposing team.

Mildred said, “It’s obvious these girls know nothing about glamour.” Mavis, Maxine, and the other girls nodded their heads in agreement.

“I would dare say,” Mavis observed, “they spent no time on the important things like hair, nails, color coded uniforms, or new hair styles.”

All team members agreed.

Maxine summed it all up, “They do not look like champions – that’s very plain to see.”

“One, two, three, four,” barked the team captain as the “Gutter and Die” bowling team performed their warm-ups. All team members marched in a tight circle as they demonstrated precision and muscle tone and in ways that were unthinkable for most men, much less women. It was sort of scary just to see the strength and power that these ole girls possessed. The men folk who had arrived early to get good seats right up front began to move farther back as they thought sitting on the back row might be safer – in more ways than one. 

It’s a good thing that Mildred, Mavis, Maxine, and the others were busy adjusting their uniforms in order to catch the best light and taking special precautions with their nails to notice all of the intimidation put out by the “Gutter and Die” team, but the onlookers sure were catching on – real quick like. There was a hush that filled the entire building, spine-chilling and unsettling as the good folks dropped their bottom jaws just watching the ole girls. It was as if the outcome on this fateful day would, indeed, bring about dead bodies if the “Gutter and Die” team ruled the day.

The referee took his position at the podium and announced the opposing teams for the Magnolia Grove County Championship Bowling Jamboree.  He began, “On this side we have “Three Hundred or Bust,” the home team, challenged today by the “Gutter and Die” ladies (some questioned that term of lady) representing the Women’s Citizenship and Reform Bowling Team from over at the Penitentiary.  It was noticed that the referee actually gulped and took a step back as he looked over toward the Penitentiary team.

While all of this was going on, Mildred, Mavis, Maxine and the others posed to show their best side for the camera – making certain to exhibit the new shoes and hair do’s to impress, well, everyone, but especially all of the news media.  The way they saw it, you can never know when one might be discovered.

The opposing team obviously not giving a rip about good looks only showed gritted teeth (for those with teeth) and hard eyes as they glared with deadly hostility toward anyone breathing, and that was just about everyone at the bowling center on this historic day. Whew!  It was going to be some kind of day.

The challengers were the first up, and out walked the most electrifying specimen of womanhood on this side of Hades, and she wielded the most gosh-awful hunk of bowling ball ever witnessed at this little bowling center. Everyone was sure it would take out the whole south end of the building, which evidently was superbly built. Although it did shudder, the building held strong as the bowling ball found its mark.  There were two bowling pins totally smashed, but the frame was tallied as a STRIKE! It was the first of many deadly frames to come – and evidence that cold-blooded tactics were needed.

Now it was time for the “Three Hundred or Bust” girls to show what they were made of, and this had to be done pretty quick in order to keep up the ole bluff, “Don’t show the fear; never show the fear!” It had always worked for them, and it would work today. Mavis, Mildred, and Maxine were veterans of digging in the trenches and winning the war.

With the eye of an eagle, the strength of a lioness, and the fortitude of an Amazon Mildred stepped on the launch pad with nostrils flared to deliver a PERFECT STRIKE! Watch out! Don’t count the “Three Hundred or Bust” girls out just because they look good. You know, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

The battle raged on.  Was there any let-up, slip-up, or throw-up? No, it was bloody battling and hand-to-hand combat until the bitter end.

After it was all over, the onlookers were pale and stressed as they ran straight to the snack bar for a strong drink – soda, Kool-Aid, water, anything. They were like refugees in the Sahara Desert. Never had they witnessed such a bone-and-guts display of bowling finesse. It was all like a dream. No, like a nightmare.

The team captain for the “Gutter and Die” girls issued congratulations, sort of creepy-like. The words were, “We’ll be back next year, if you live that long.”

All of the news media stormed the “Three Hundred or Bust” team members for an interview, a picture, a testimony, or maybe even a lock of hair.  The hair lock thingy probably didn’t happen though – not after all of the time spent to get that “do” just right.

Yes, the “Three Hundred or Bust” girls sure showed what they were made of on that wonderful day, and a dream come true too. The picture in the local newspaper the next morning showed an interview with the champions and asked for the secret of their success.  All team members agreed. Their secret was to look good, ‘cause when you look good, what can go bad?

Hey, it worked for them.

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