The loud music. The garish animation telling you how well, or how badly you just did. The strangely coloured shoes designed so that you won’t be tempted to steal them. The very heavy balls that you are expected to hit the pins with. The high fives and whooping will all point to only one thing you’re in a 10-pin bowling alley. At least there is an answer to your hand not following off. A bit of Bowling Wrist Support will help there and there are some snazzy yet practical designs at http://www.petesproshop.co.uk/acatalog/wrist-supports.htm. Where did this odd game come from and wouldn’t it be a better idea to go and play skittles in a nice pub?
Whilst it seems like a massive slice of Americana ten pin bowling can trace its roots to a time of shifting sands and pyramids. That’s right, the Ancient (really ancient, before the Pharaohs in fact) Egyptians played it. It’s unlikely that they had animations of bulls smashing through pins, or high fiving each other but the Archaeologists definitely found ball and pins even if they were a little primitive by our standards.
Fast forward several eons and you start to see evidence of the game in Europe. I’ll wager that you never thought you were praising a German wood God when you sent one down the alley but there is evidence to suggest that the game was designed for this purpose. Large stones were rolled at wooden clubs. If you hit one, then the God was pleased with you and anything you had done wrong would be forgiven. Imagine how overjoyed they were when they got a strike. They must have believed that they were well in with Wodan or whomever it was. There might have even been some high fiving going on as it now meant that you could make goo goo eyes at Brunhilda whilst still being with Hildegarde.
Moving into medieval times, it seems the game was now a hotbed of social anarchy. It was banned because it was so popular soldiers weren’t bothering with Archery practice. The English Longbow was a heavy weapon and you needed all your strength to wield it. It was unlikely the French were going to be as put off by an army that rolled wooden balls at them (and high fived each other when they got knocked over, presumably). King Henry the 8th was so sick of it he also banned it because all the military personnel and tradesmen were so busy playing it their work was starting to suffer.
They were playing a version more like the skittles or Nine pin but as the settlers crossed the Atlantic to the New world America finally got hold of the game and began to turn it into the 10 pin we know and love today. They added a 10th pin as, again, the 9-pin version was banned due to gambling. I’m sure somewhere Wodan is pleased,