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February 18, 2004


The item posted below by the Stealth Bloggerette ("LOOK, UP IN THE SKY") about guys dropping bowling balls from airplanes reminds me of a column I wrote in 1994 about... well, about guys dropping bowling balls from airplanes. Except that the guys I wrote about weren't doing this for Scientific Reasons. They had invented a sport called Car Bowling:

This is an exciting new sport that I found out about from an alert reader named Robert Grimm. He referred me to a friend of his named Mark Luman, a pilot in Michigan, who informed me that what he and his pilot friends sometimes do, for recreation, is go up in airplanes and drop bowling balls on cars.

At this point, many of you women are thinking, "They drop WHAT? On WHAT? From WHAT??" Whereas you men, because of your complex and subtle psychic interplay, are thinking: "When can I do this?"

I have to admit that the idea of Car Bowling appealed to me, although I did have a couple of concerns, the main ones being:

1. Are there motorists in these cars?

2. Do the pilots wear rental shoes?

I am pleased to report that the answer to both questions is "no." Luman told me that in Car Bowling, you use an unoccupied junk car, which you place on the runway of a private airport. Then you fly over in a small plane, going 80 to 90 miles per hour at an altitude of 20 to 50 feet, and attempt to hit the car with a bowling ball. If you succeed, you get the sense of inner spiritual gratification that comes from seeing what happens to a car that has been hit by a bowling ball. But the beauty of Car Bowling is that even if you miss, you get a very positive result, from the male perspective.

"You cannot imagine," said Luman, "how far a bowling ball will bounce when it hits a hard surface at that speed. It's amazing."

But fun though it is, I believe that Car Bowling could be adapted to provide major social benefits in the field of shopping-mall parking enforcement. Think how many times you've been inconvenienced at the mall because some jerk has left his car sprawled across two parking spaces. Right now little can be done about this, because the law prohibits mall security personnel from writing parking tickets. But the law does NOT -- I urge you to confirm this for yourself -- specifically state that mall security personnel may not drop bowling balls on improperly parked cars from low-flying aircraft. And if I know anything about mall security personnel, they would jump at the chance.

Oh, sure, there would be a certain degree of risk. You cannot guarantee 100 percent surgical accuracy with this kind of operation; you're going to have some unfortunate situations where an errant bowling ball, traveling at 85 miles an hour, blasts through the wall of, say, a crowded greeting-card store. But that will be a small price to pay if motorists start showing some respect for the parking-lot lines. As the old saying goes: "You can't make an omelet without jeopardizing the lives of innocent people."


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