There aren't many better ways to spend a night out with your friends than drinking a couple of beers and bowling a few games at the local alley.
That doesn't mean that Gary Bushmeyer wasn't having a good time Wednesday night when his friends stopped talking to him and he stopped drinking.
Instead, he was in the middle of a perfect game.
"Nobody would look at me hardly after the eighth frame. I was balled up over in the corner," Bushmeyer said with a laugh Thursday morning.
Bushmeyer, 61, is starting to enjoy retirement after a 39-year career with the BNSF Railway ended in November. He likes his nights on the lanes, and when the weather is nice, he's tearing up the golf course at Cedar Crest Country Club. His average is about 180 (bowling, not golf), and he recently bowled a 279. He says he's been doing better this year because he's bowling more.
However, Bushmeyer typically wouldn't have even been at the Casino Lanes on Wednesday. He bowls regularly Monday nights, and one of his teammates asked him to fill in on Wednesdays for a few weeks while someone else was going through cancer treatments.
"I've been subbing for a couple of weeks now, but I don't even remember the team's name," Bushmeyer said. (He later remembered the team is sponsored by Century Signs.)
Wednesday night started well, with Bushmeyer rolling a 245 in the first game and a 208 in the second game. As the strikes kept piling up in the third game of the series, the jocularity on his lane was subsiding.
"I was talking just to keep loose," Bushmeyer said. "No one was talking to me because they're afraid to hex you. It's like I was throwing a no-hitter."
In baseball, teammates don't typically talk to the pitcher during a no-hitter. A fan has a 1 in 775 chance of attending a Major League game when a no-hitter is thrown.
The American Bowling Congress says the odds of a perfect game being rolled is 1 in 11,500, and Bushmeyer says his teammates didn't want to ruin their chance to see a rare moment. (Coincidentally, Bushmeyer watched a 300 game two nights earlier.)
By chance, Bushmeyer's wife, Mary Kaye, showed up at the Casino in the fifth frame of the final game.
"I think she wanted to make sure I was actually bowling," Bushmeyer chuckled.
He admitted the nerves kicked in during the ninth frame.
"The ball in the ninth was iffy, but as luck would have it, the pins fell," Bushmeyer said. "In the 10th, that's the big one. You get more nervous. The 11th went pretty good. I actually didn't think too much about it."SClBBy now, all of the other lanes were coming to a stop to watch Bushmeyer.
"That was a little disconcerting. There wasn't a lot of noise, and you pick up on that," he said. "On the golf course, you worry about it being quiet. But now I'm thinking: ‘Holy cow, what's going on? Did everybody leave?' "
And the last ball?
"Things were a blur," he said. ‘I was like, ‘My gosh, just throw the dang thing.' "
The 300 game was his first, and the 753 series was his career best.
"Oh, my, what a relief," he said. "Magic is magic."
After all the congratulations from well-wishers, Bushmeyer went home. He said he'll feel like celebrating more after it sinks in a little bit. However, the next morning at home, he was putting up drywall in the basement.
"It's only good for one evening, then you go on," he said. "It was a neat deal. Now all I need is a hole-in-one."
He has plenty of time to try. He might even enjoy a beer or two with friends along the way.