My previous job was based inside a huge manufacturing facility, a place so large it had its own zip code. And as I made the long trek to the cafeteria every day, for another round of mediocre-at-best void fillers, I passed through an area of the plant that smelled EXACTLY like the Dunbar Bowling Alley. I don’t know what was going on there, what kind of toxic cocktail they were brewing up, but I always loved the smell. And I’d breathe in several big lungfuls, totally aware that I might be flipping the cancer switch to on.
I spent hundreds of hours at the Dunbar Bowling Alley as a kid. During the last week of school every year they’d give us a card that entitled us to bowl one free game per weekday in the summer, and my friends and I used the shit outta that thing. We’d walk there around 11 am, bowl our free game, and mess around in the room with the video games and pinball machines. The workers absolutely hated us, with good reason. We were smartass little bastards, generally up to no good.
We used to open the door that led to a junky storage area, roll a bowling ball in there with force, and close the door. Sometimes we’d just hear a KLUNK! and be disappointed. But other times glass would shatter and heavy things would fall over, spectacularly. We considered this to be great fun. An old guy we called Steamboat would always come running back there with a cig dancing on his lips and chew us out for five minutes, which was the cherry on top of the whole deal. I’m not sure why we were never banned outright. We certainly should’ve been.
Another time my friend Mike was having a verbal altercation with a kid we didn’t know. This was out in the main bowling alley itself. The stranger was mouthing off, and Mike was giving it back to him. Finally, Mike removed the big Blow Pop from his mouth, and threw it at the kid. Have you ever tried to throw a Blow Pop? It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, because of the weight distribution. But somehow this thing went straight into the kid’s shaggy 1970s hair, and embedded itself deep. As we were leaving, he was trying to pull it out by the stick, and had a panicked look on his face. I don’t think I stopped laughing until well past Bowen’s Pharmacy. Man, that was pure greatness.
So, whenever I’d pass through that area of the plant, and get a whiff of those good ol’ days, I’d happily breathe it on in. I’m not sure what created the original smell, but I think a lot of it was the oil they put on the bowling lanes. That, and cigarettes, beer, hotdogs, rental shoe spray, and probably ass. Who knows? But I liked it, and if I smelled it again today I’d feel happy in my soul.
Do you have any specific smells that transport you back to childhood? Fresh cut grass does it, too. But I’m sure that’s pretty common. There was also some kind of powder that my grandmother used that I occasionally smell in department stores, or whatever. I’m not sure if it’s the exact same kind, but it’s close enough to trigger a transport.
If you have anything to share on this one, please do so. Also, on a related note, what smells do you wish they’d capture and bottle in a cologne or perfume? I don’t use cologne, but might start if they ever came out with one based on the essence of a just-opened pack of baseball cards. Ya know? Maybe just call it Topps? I’d go for it, I think.
I’m calling it a day here, my friends. It’s all up to you guys now. Have at it in the comments. Then go buy a bunch of expensive stuff from Amazon, after using one of our links. Or cheap stuff, I don’t care.
I’ll be back soon. Have yourselves a great day!