Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
A company in Utah, Storm Products, is putting out scented bowling balls.
Before going on I need to say … I was a pinsetter, at ten years of age. That’s embedded in my early bowling memories. In the days before automatics, the other boys and I set pins on our little four-lane alley and there were no lilac sniffers anywhere near our lanes. I remember bowlers chewing tobacco, breaking wind, spitting on their shoes, screaming out “Salvino” as the ball curved in to the pocket… and that was the women. There was a little diner attached to the alley where a real “cookie,” sleeveless undershirt and all, flipped hamburgers and sampled the onions. Certain smells stay with you.
Storm makes bowling balls with all kinds of scents – forty in all. Ten more scents and they could be a rapper. The scents are embedded in the liquid used to create the ball’s one-inch shell. Cinnamon, orange, amaretto, plum, banana are all popular.
We took a trip to the local establishment. Bowlers are standing behind the line all relaxed, sniffing and dreamy-eyed. Team members have to coax their mate into letting go of the thing. I see another guy licking his grape/navy colored Eraser Boost ball with it’s blueberry flavor. It’s almost too much. I take a break into the men’s locker room and there I find a guy freshening up his pits with a cinnamon apple ball. I didn’t realize how much a $ 150 dollar bowling ball can save on deodorant.
Some bowlers claim smelling the peppermint takes away all nervousness. They also say it helps with concentration when they’re sighting the pins and bringing the ball up to their nose. Others say the scented balls curve better. Others leave their bowling balls in their open bags in their car. “Best car freshener I’ve ever had,” says pro bowler Ryan Shafer. The Triple X Factor, a $ 270 bowling ball popular with pros, smells of black cherry and Shafer swears by it.
We ask around and find that many bowlers have several balls. Different types for varying lane conditions and of course, several different fragrances. We found one guy with twelve different balls – wintergreen, lemonade, chocolate – and when his nose is stuffed up, menthol. It’s getting a little weird. I’m worried what’s going to happen when a guy in one lane has lemon and one next to him has lime. Those two flavors going down the lanes at the same time are going to cause an unusual run on the demand for Sprite.
How long is it going to be before you walk into a fancy hotel and find pots of bowling balls instead of flowers? “Oh, smell this, dear. No thorns.” I worry about the bowling ball juggler, who, carried away with the wonderful scents lets a 16 pound ball land on his nose. I worry about the blind bowler, with his heightened sense of smell, not knowing whether he’s at a bowling alley or a Bed, Bath and Beyond. I worry about the pro-shop owner who drills the finger holes in the aromatic balls. You know he’s going to spread the shavings over his sundae. It’s just wrong.
We’re lucky this scented ball phenomenon happens in the day of automatic pin setters. If these balls were around when Nicky and Charlie and I were setting pins I’m sure we’d all be florists now. And nobody would want their ten flowers stuffed and twisted in a bag.