As we walked into the bowling alley, I noted I could still smell cigarettes. It's all part of the ambience, I guess, along with the wall of stinky shoes and vending machine with large buttons that resemble ice cubes.

As I plunged a potato chip into a vat of dip, the chip snapped and my knuckles went right to the bottom of the shallow container.

The engineering of this particular chip could not hold up to the thickness of the French onion dip. And the chips were ridged, no less.

You ever notice how something innocuous can bring you down? This was my last straw, and it still was early in the day.

I had spent the better part of the morning scratching a bug bite right through my skin to the bone while telling my daughters not to scratch their bites. I was just kind of feeling down; hence chips and dip before lunchtime.

And as I contemplated a rescue mission to salvage the crumbs drowning in the dip, my 4-year-old appeared. 

"You aren't supposed to put your whole hand in the dip," she laughed. Then she told me she wouldn't tell anyone if I wanted to lick my hands clean.

I shook my head and told her I would wash my hand.

"It'll be OK," she told me. "Let's go bowling."

She has a fantastic way to see the brighter side of everything.

My wife has taken our daughters bowling a number of times, but I hadn't been in many years. The last time I went bowling, you could still smoke inside.

As we walked into the bowling alley, I noted I could still smell cigarettes. It's all part of the ambience, I guess, along with the wall of stinky shoes and the vending machine with large buttons that resemble ice cubes.

My 7-year-old brought along quarters to play the claw game. Her little sister declared she was going to play the game where you win a bag of Skittles. Turns out, she was talking about the vending machine.

"A winner every time!" I responded.

When I was a kid, I would pick out a number of different bowling balls of every shape and color. I needed a 16-pound ball because, I assumed, if I could keep it out of the gutter, it was so heavy all of the pins were sure to fall. And I needed a light, pink ball because my fingers would get stuck, and it was funny.

My 4-year-old used a metal ramp. She would push the ball off the ramp and watch as it gingerly hugged the bumper all the way down the lane. Then she pumped her fist, even if she only knocked down one pin.

A few times, it looked like my daughters' bowling balls might stop in the middle of the lane or nudge the pins so lightly it would just bounce off.

On one throw, my daughter got her ball stuck behind the gutter bumper, a feat just as impressive as a strike in my book.

I told her about how once I lost control of a heavy ball on my back swing, and everyone sitting behind me had to scatter.

My wife and I had a few strikes and spares, and each time I would direct my girls to watch the "amazing" animations on the TV screen.

And when we finished, the rain started to pour outside so hard that we all got soaked getting in the car.

But it didn't bother me.

By then, my perspective had changed, and I just felt good.

Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or david.manley@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @DaveManley