Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Pile of Crap

This story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. But then, who amongst us is really innocent? This story is based on a collection of sea stories told to me by my shipmate on the USS Vulcan, Woody (David G. Woodman). I don’t really remember all of the details, but that’s OK because I’m just going to make up what I don’t remember.

The story begins.

I had this friend, Bradley Bruce. Seemed like his name was backward, something I used to remind him of all the time. He had a first name for a last name and vice-versa. He also had a 1958 Mercedes Benz 190. It was a big car. We used to take it to dances hoping to pick up some girls. Although, a carload of teenagers (four to be exact) trying to pick up girls leaves a lot of problems unsolved.

First, let’s consider the mathematics. I’m familiar with the statistical equations, and I can tell you that the odds of all four guys actually getting girls to agree to ride in this clunky European automobile, much less ride in it with four boys, were somewhere between slim and none, and slim has just left town.

With odds like that, we never really had to deal with the other issue of how to fit eight people in the car. The one time I brought that up solicited the response that we would put four in the front and four in the back. Now that Mercedes was a big car, no doubt about that, four across the back seat would probably work, but I doubt that four in front was going to allow room for essential things like braking and steering. Doesn’t really matter … never happened.

Now we all had our lines that we would use for picking up girls, which we’d practice in front of a mirror. But Bradley just had a natural knack. I think it had to be his lines because it sure wasn’t his car … unless just having a car was his secret.

I tried to figure out how he did it, but I never could discover his method. I remember one time when he was talking to this girl and she asked him for a picture. He didn’t have one with him. All he had was his drivers license, so he gave that to her so she’d have a picture. Now that’s a line!

So, one night we were all in Bradley’s car headed to some dance somewhere. We were running late since not everyone was ready to go on time. Some were still in the shower, and I had to finish my supper or my dad wouldn’t let me go. We were headed for a town about twenty miles away and the dance had already started. We always like to arrive early before the lights went down so we could check out the situation … so to speak.

Anyway, we were running late and traffic was very heavy. Bradley said he knew a short cut. It was down an old highway that had been replaced by a new road when they built a bridge over this river. The old road went around a circuitous route to avoid crossing the river and was no longer used. They didn’t tear up the old road because it provided access to some farms, but these were no longer maintained roads.

So, with some serious misgivings on everyone's part, Bradley turned off onto this old highway and began tooling through the countryside. Things went pretty well for the first ten minutes when suddenly Bradley slammed on the brakes and we skidded to a stop. There, ahead in the roadway, illuminated by the car’s headlights, stood a pile of cow manure. Some farmer had used the hard surface of the roadway as a place to dump newly excavated cow doo-doo to “cure.”

The pile was about four feet deep and ten feet across, and I swear it was still smoking. Now those not raised on a farm may wonder why you would pile manure up like that. Let me explain. You often keep animals, especially dairy cattle, in an enclosed area for some period of time. Since these cows are not potty-trained, they pretty much do their business everywhere in that area. So, periodically, you take the tractor with a scoop shovel on front and scoop up the stinking stuff and pile it somewhere.

You then let the manure “season” for a while and it turns into fertilizer that can then be spread on the crops and grasslands to produce food to feed these animals. It is the “circle of life” and a sustainable farming technique. Well it seems this farmer had chosen the roadway of the closed road to pile up the dung.

As we stared at the heap of cow excrement completely blocking the road, many thoughts went through our collective minds. I was thinking we’d have to turn around and go back. We’d be late to the dance, but it was obvious that this way was blocked.

Apparently that wasn’t the thought going through Bradley’s mind. His thought was something along the lines of “this fantastic German car can get through that fecal matter!”

He quickly explained his plan to us. He was sure that he could drive through the pile and get to the other side. However, to maximize the chance of success of his plan, he suggested we all get out of the car to lighten the load and increase the horsepower to weight ratio.

Being teenagers and always ready for a good show, we jumped out of the car, all the time expressing our estimate of just how far into the pile of crap the car would go before getting stuck. I mean, this was a four-foot deep pile of fresh cow manure and manure is not known for its high coefficient of friction. Actually, quite the opposite as anyone who has ever stepped on a fresh cow pie will testify that it is one slippery substance.

So there we were standing along the side of the road next to one heaping pile of cow shit when we noted that Bradley was backing up. Apparently he intended to take a run at the pile of compost at maximum acceleration. Before the complete importance of our discovery had time to penetrate our brains and send commands to our feet to get the hell out of the way, here came Bradley racing through the gears and straining that good Teutonic engine to its upmost.

I think he hit the pile at about sixty miles-per-hour … yet, despite that excessive velocity, he only penetrated about half way through the slop. When his car first hit the dung heap, it spread the crap like Moses at the red sea. The cow poop went up into the air and out to the sides … to exactly where we were all standing.

Now speaking of Moses, I understand one of the seven plagues he inflicted on the Egyptians was a rain of frogs: toads falling out of the sky. Well, if papa Moses had just thought of it, a rain of cow droppings would have eliminated the need for any further incentive to the Pharaoh to “let his people go.”

There we all stood, petrified by the sight of what was about to rain down upon us — "what had hit the fan," so-to-speak — unable to move a muscle as the wave of kaka fell upon three dressed up cowboys ready for the dance. Now we were really ready for the dance, the barn dance.

We just stood there in our putrescent glory, looking up and down our best dancing clothes now covered in cow offal. We were all going to need a shower. Just then, Bradley rolls down the window of his now stuck car and pronounces the obvious, “I’m stuck.”

That should have been clear to everyone involved, but apparently Bradley felt the need to make the obvious vocal. Then it dawned on the three of us that he was more than just describing the situation. His was a plea for assistance.

Now, under normal circumstances, you are unlikely to get much help for a car stuck in the middle of a giant pile of poop. But we were young, and idealistic, and already covered with crap, so, what the heck.

We waded into the pile of manure and took up posts at the rear of the car, completely unaware of the danger of being behind the tires as Bradley began to spin the wheels in an attempt to escape the gooey substance. Now you’ve heard of adding insult to injury. Well that’s what happened to my two mates on either side of me. Providence had smiled up me, however, as I had taken up station behind the license plate and was out of range of the new cow poop shower that further covered my two assistants. Soon my friends looked like mummies, only they weren’t wrapped in something white, but shite.

“Sorry,” said Bradley. Oh, he was going to be sorry. Of that we all agreed. With nothing else left to do but push harder, we did our best and were able to get his car off the giant mound of cow output. We than began our revenge by jumping into his, as yet, clean interior despite his rushed pleas to the contrary and there we sat. I was in “shot gun” next to Bradley, and I gave him a taste of the bitter medicine we had just received as I wiped a gob of the stuff off my pants and onto his nose.

Then we all started laughing. It was sort of that insane laughter you hear from people as they approach the guillotine. After recovering from our laughing spell, we located a small stream and proceeded to bathe, clothes and all. There were some old rags in the trunk of the car and we cleaned off the seats as best we could and decided the dance would have to be for another night. Besides, since Bradley gave his drivers license to that girl, it probably would be best that he not drive that much anyway.

We headed for home and that was the end of that night. I took one more wash with the garden hose before slinking inside. My mom was already in bed and my dad was watching TV. He asked me if I wanted to join him. I said, “No,” and said I was going to take a shower and hit the sack. He said something like it looked I had already hit something other than a sack and asked that I stand downwind as I explained our night’s adventure.

He quickly cut the story short as the stink began to expand and rushed me off to the shower and took the clothes outside to air. He said something about growing up on a farm and that he thought he’d left that smell in his past. Maybe it was a good reminisce for him. We never spoke of it again.

And the Bradley and gang, we never spoke of it again either. This will be a reminder of that fateful day. Bradley never got the smell out of the car, so he just left the windows down for a week and then quickly traded it in. I suspect that poor car dealer, upon realizing just what he had bought, took the car to the crusher.

I wonder if Bradley ever got his drivers license back from that girl?