My wife came back from Albertson’s the other night and told me, “There’s a lot of your guys in the store tonight buying Pabst and cheesy poofs.”
I needed no elaboration.
“They smelled terrible.”
We live in the last neighborhood next to Red Rock National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas. I can see some of the routes from my bedroom window. This time of year, Red Rock’s sandstone buffet feeds thousands of climbers starving for the tacky, sun-drenched redwall. Most of them crash in tents and vans and Subarus at Red Rock campground on Moenkopi Road.
Once off belay, climbers flock to the retail plaza at Desert Foothills and Charleston, which also leases to a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise and a NY Pizza, a damn good place for authentic Manhattan slabs.
I’ve heard my wife spew this kind of anti-dirtbag venom in the past. She means no harm, mind you, as she’s married to a part-timer and has gone a few days herself without the soothing benefits of Mango-Kiwi shower moisturizer with Tangerine extracts.
Thing is, I kind of see her point. Sometimes, the funk of time spent in the wilderness loses its outdoor-guy charm. It’s not really the badge of anti-establishment honor we so often think it is.
A few months ago my buddy, let’s call him “Jake,” crashed on our couch for a few days after high-balling a v.12 or something outside Bishop. He dropped 20 or so feet, shattering his ankle, doing something bad to his wrist and ending up in a back brace. Then on our couch.
With all due respect to his injuries, Jake’s stench should be caged and put on display in a zoo. In its own section and especially away from the bears. I know this not just because this festering entity lingered in my cul-de-sac for a few days but because I spent a month backpacking with it. Worse yet, it shows up after only a day or two. It’s fast-acting.
B.O. is an undeniable byproduct of adventure travel. However, when does it cross the line from fart-in-the-tent funny to “Dude, please do something, at least some baby powder?”
I think my wife wasn’t overly bothered by the crew in the store, just kind of curious as to why when in public after a trip, we don’t have some sort of solution for that sharp, warm wave of outdated vinegar that we allow to crop-dust the self check-out line. (And as anyone knows who frequents that Albertson’s, there’s never more than two lanes open at a time. Ever.)
I think it’s probably fair to assume that not everyone cares that we just climbed for three days; to the non-cognoscente, when we stink in public, we’re no different than the neighborhood cat lady who recycles her Depends and hands out Circus Peanuts on Halloween.
In essence, dude, you just stink.
Image from Southernersjournal.com