As a child spoiled by the weather on the West Coast, I will admit that I am a certified wuss when it comes to dealing with “cold” weather. As far as I’m concerned, anything under 45 degrees qualifies as such, and when it gets “cold”, I have shown a tendency to turn into a whiny, shivering pile of annoying. On tour in the winter of 2008, as my band and I navigated the Midwest, it got chilly, so like any good native Southern Californian, I overreacted by wearing a beanie, thermal underwear, and a scarf every day. (And by whining about how cold it was. Constantly.)
I wore that scarf reluctantly. I’d had an aversion to scarves for a while, in part as defiance to the fashion-over-function trend of hipsters using them as an accessory in warm weather and also because they make me feel like I’m wearing a cushy noose. But over the course of ten years of meandering around the wintry United States and Europe, I came around to ditching the hipster-hate, wising up, and learning to appreciate the value of owning/having/wearing a scarf when you’re freezing your ass (and the rest of you) off in a strange land.
The breakthrough came on a December stop in Winnipeg, when the thermometer read zero. Snot was freezing inside my nose. My joints ached. Any exposed skin (read: my neck and face) fell victim to wind burn. I was miserable, so I broke, and sucked it up and bought myself a wool scarf.
Back to the winter of 2008. A day off in St. Louis. Thirty-ish degrees. “Cold”, to be sure. The band and crew had made dinner reservations at a restaurant that wasn’t far enough to justify hailing a cab, but was just far enough of a walk for my pansy West Coast ass to fear that I’d freeze to death en route. I pulled out my trusty wool scarf and shuffled down a mile of icy sidewalk.
I ate until it hurt, because that’s what traveling musicians do on days off. Decent meals on show days can often be hard to come by, and playing drums for an hour-plus with a gut full of food is a form of gastrointestinal roulette I don’t dare play. Loosening my belt a notch, I shuffled back to the hotel, stomach moaning all the while, and met some of the crew in the bar for some libations.
I slid into a booth and ordered a beer.
“Grumble,” said my stomach. Not a good sign.
“Uhh…” I replied.
“What?” said one of our crew guys.
“Nothing. I’m just full.”
“Grumble,” said my stomach, one more time, with feeling.
I took a deep breath as sweat began to bead on my forehead.
“Hooo boy,” I said as my stomach made noises like Chewbacca screaming at a guy dragging industrial shelving across a concrete floor. “I’ll be back … I hope.”
I dropped a few bucks for my beer, slid out of the booth and waddled to the lobby bathroom.
I burst into a stall, ripped off my jacket and hoodie and plunked my ass down on the toilet to take care of business. Serious business.
What happened next will be left to your imagination, but I would best describe it as voluminous, malodorous and painfully unfortunate.
When it came time to perform the “paperwork” portion of said business, I was seated upon my alabaster perch looking (ironically) much like the hipster I described several paragraphs ago — in nothing but a scarf and a T-shirt. But the storm passed and I was optimistic, ready to wrap things up.
I grabbed an ample amount of toilet paper with light and airy confidence, but in a watershed moment of carelessness and haste, I wiped, failing to realize that a healthy portion of my scarf was running down my back.
Yes, it’s true. I accidentally wiped my ass with a wool scarf.
I believe wool lands just below a cheese grater, sandpaper, and a Brillo pad on the Top Five Things You Shouldn’t Wipe Your Ass With list. Highly unpleasant. The poor sheep.
My shitty scarf now resides in a landfill in the greater St. Louis area, dear readers. Although I’ve overcome my distaste for these bedeviling styled strips of utilitarian cloth, , I will never be able to wear one without thinking of that fateful, stinky night in the loo in The Lou.
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