Dateline: Norge Villa Laundromat, Decatur, Ala.
I had one jock.
A pair of gym shorts (pair suggest two but believe me if these shorts had a twin I didn't know about it).
One pair of socks (which was actually the two ones a pair SHOULD refer to).
One T-shirt (borrowed from the Buffalo YMCA).
That's all I needed to get through gym class.
And I never took them home. EVER.
My mother washed them once when we took them out of the Sears bag, and never saw them again. For all I know they may still be in Kenmore West locker #264.
When summer came, I would just leave them there. When Billy the janitor (we didn't call them custodians back then because if you knew Billy you wouldn't be wanting to give him custody of much) found them he would gather everything up (even my jock which back then I pretty much just hooked it on the little hanger and used the pouch part to hold my spare change lunch money) and he would bring it down to the lost and found.
The first day of school I would go down to lost and found, pick the stuff back up, and put it back in my locker.
Worked like a charm 7th-12th grade.
Lost and found was my first safe deposit box.
I had no idea though that some of the ladies who worked in the principal's office (all of whom pretty much called me by my first name) worked there ALL SUMMER LONG.
In that office that worked through the summer we had this one lady, Mrs.-something, who hated kids which was why she worked at the school, and it was her desk that was right next to where Billy would put my gym clothes in my summer will-call.
That summer between grades 11 and 12 was a HOT one that year in Buffalo. Real hot.
Mrs.-something wasn't very happy. None of the windows in the school had been opened since V-J Day (the end of WW II, August 15, 1945 which, pretty much marked the unofficial start of the baby boom as well) and all Mrs.-something had was a huge standup metal fan, way at the other end of the office.
That's when my 7th-grade gym clothes, now about to be Senior gym clothes, started to cook on their-ownself. Yep, five-year-old sweat has a bouquet all its own.
Today, in 104-degree heat where my minivan is parked, that smell is coming back to me seeing that it's day 25 of the Southern Road Tour, and I have been doing pretty much the same thing I did in high school, leaving the dirty clothes in my locker, which now is the Toyota Hula Girl Minivan.
And it's real hot.
Wringer One: Wash, Dry, Fold
This may be THE GREATEST INVENTION IN THE WORLD.
You bring stinky clothes to a stranger, the stranger gives them back to you un-stunk and folded.
I had never heard of such a thing.
***GUY WARNING, GUY WARNING***
Don't do this, call up the wife in total excitement in this new found discovery and say exactly this: "Barb you can't believe what I found, I can take my stinky, dirty clothes to this lady and for a couple bucks she'll wash them, dry them, and fold them ... freakin' amazing."Because guys, this is what came back: "Whoopie, that's what I've been doing for you for the past 34 years ... without the couple bucks."Ooops. Barb, honey, I'm sorry, from now on once my clothes reach a mutually acceptable level of man-stink, I will just THROW THEM AWAY and get new ones down at the dollar store.
****END OF GUY WARNING****
So back in the way-back of the minivan I've got this garbage bag, two bags actually, and in them I stick all the clothes that I have worn only once or three times on this Southern Tour.
One bag is full. The other growing. By day 10 I had figured out that wearing socks the right way one day, inside-out the next day, doesn't actually get you two days of wear. I found this out by watching a hotel desk clerk suddenly start sniffing around upon my arrival at check-in.
So I had to go back to MOSTLY just one wear per piece of clothing. Figure what your garbage bag dirty laundry holder would look like by day 25.
And smell like. In the South. Back there by that BIG rear minivan window. It's a smell that you can't apologize for since most people would have buried anything that stinky a long time ago.
Then came Pam Jenkins. She's the lady who took the two bags of stink, and didn't even wiggle her nose. Wash, Dry, Fold, that would be her at a dollar a pound per stink ... 20 cents extra for wire clothes hangers.
My stanky stuff came in at 17 pounds ... plus a few hangers ... total bill, $18-bucks and change. All de-stunk.
Pam does anywhere from 50 to 100 LOADS of other peoples clothes a DAY, and while we were talking she was dumping some guy's 30 POUNDS of laundry into the washer. DUDE!!! 30 pounds, just how many boxers can a guy have.
Dirty clothes cleaned by the pound, in the Wash-Dry-Fold-South.
Wringer Two: Bulls, Bass & Broken Bones
I was born injured.
I have several pounds of metal and ceramic in my butt. Hip replacements by my fishing fanatic butt replacement Doc, Dr. Mac.
I have sympathy accidents. I SEE someone fall, my back hurts for days. I've had several thousand concussions from watching sports on TV. About the only thing holding me together anymore are the stitch scars.
Every morning my wife gets an injury report as I get out of bed and stumble to the bathroom, "Oh ... ah my knee, Ouch the ankle, ummm the shoulder."
My cologne: Ben Gay.
Elite Pro Rookie Brian Clark is a PRO when it comes to pain. If there was a Hall-Of-Fame for hurt, the statue would have his face on it.
Here's his resume of recoveries. Brian Clark:
"From the top down, a crushed orbital bone by my eye, knocked out both my front teeth, broke my jaw twice, dislocated my shoulder several times, three reconstructive elbow surgeries on my right arm, compound fracture of my left arm with the bone coming out 4 inches, dislocated right hip, cracked my femur, blew out my knee twice, a broken fibula, OH YEAH, I've had probably, as best I can remember, 10-15 concussions, you know where you get knocked out and you wake up wondering what happened."
That would be going through a MAJOR WRINGER.
The 32-year-old Clark comes from a suburb of Fort Worth, and is married, wife Heather, with one child, Ryder, 3, and another child to be born Oct. 1. He'll be called Brody.
Now all those injuries he mentioned up above there, didn't come from pulling bass out of lakes, they came from pulling Brian Clark out of dirt ... rodeo dirt. Brian Clark was a pro Bull Rider with the Professional Bull Riders Association and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for 11 years before he came to Bass this year.
"Bass fishing isn't as physical, it's more mental," he says before I even ask. "I'm a very competitive guy. I can't believe it when my favorite football team's star player is out for a week or two with a sore big toe or something. You've got to bear down and be a man, go do your job." His popped back in again teeth are showing, his broken up jaw is jutting out like Clint Eastwood in an ER.
For all those bulls and bruises, Clark made about $35,000 a year which is why he would bargain a man down on the price of a puppy.
"I was in Cheyenne, Wyo., for Frontier Days, my last time before I tore up my elbow again, it was me and 3 other stinky cowboys in a truck and camper sharing expenses (and smells).
"This guy comes by with some puppies, border collies mixed with Blue/Red Healer asking $250 a pup. I say I'll give you 50 bucks and he looks at me like I'm some kind of stupid and marches off. A few days later, around the last day of the event, he comes back with one puppy left, a female. He says if I still have that 50 bucks, she's mine."
He did, and it was.
Cheyenne, as he named her, has a special place in his life ... the front deck of his bass boat.
Clark: "She guards my boat at night from people coming by thinking they can snatch up something. I put her food out and her water and lay her dog bed down on the front deck and she sleeps right there all night, and man, you ain't getting near that boat."
Don Barone is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Other stories of his can be found on Amazon.com. For questions, comments or story ideas you can reach him at: [email protected]