As the winter gives way to spring, and because I need to take a break from reading about the draft before I spend 4 hours tonight doing my annual Drinkin’ & Draftin’ post, I was thinking about tubing. I haven’t been tubing in a really long time. I miss it.
I went to college in the geographical center of Alabama. So, needless to say, I went to college in the middle of fucking nowhere. It was a good 75/25 mix of 25% art students and 75% people you would expect to find in the geographical center of Alabama if you were stereotyping (and you wouldn’t be, in this case). So, you can imagine, it was about as much of a “melting pot” as a brick in a bath tub (what???). Anyways, that has very little to do with the story I’m about to tell you, but no one ever accused me of being a concise or enjoyable writer.
So, several miles away from campus there was a little river. Not whitewater or anything, just the lazy kind that is perfect for tubing. On the way, we would stop off and buy a bunch of beer and by the time we got to the tube rental place, we were usually well on our way to being trashed. We piled out of our cars, 10 drunken skate punks, art fags, metal heads, and earth mamas. We packed our cigarettes and lighters in gallon Ziploc bags, stuffed them in the little styrofoam ice chest and went to go rent some tubes.
The owner of the tube shack would rent you a tube for your ice chest for $5.00. So, we got tubes for us and our little styrofoam buddy and waited for his hillbilly brother to come back with the pickup truck. After a while, the brother swung around to pick us up and we piled in the back of the truck and headed off. As we’re bumping through the fields, we’re looking around at the cows milling about gnawing cud when suddenly, looking over the edge of the bed rail, we saw mushrooms…
We all went from raucous drunks to wide eyed and silent in a matter of seconds. We were sneaking glances at each other, hiding our smirks, mouthing the words “Holy shit!” at each other. We bounced along, wondering if we would get driven well out of range of the field, but the piles of shit went on forever. The pickup slowed to a stop, turned around and we all hopped out. We milled about for a little bit, pretending to gather our stuff and watching the ratty pickup truck bounce around out of sight. As soon as it disappeared we grabbed the Ziplocs and the ice chest and ran around like the Benny Hill girls were chasing us pulling as many mushrooms as we could grab, and that was a BUNCH. We were stoked.
We got our fill, climbed into our tubes, and made off down the river like we hadn’t been plopped in the middle of the largest mushroom field any of us had ever seen. Shortly after, we cracked open some MGDs and starting munching caps. Not too much later, shit started getting hazy. Conversation started turning to pure nonsense and giggling. Pirate vs. Ninja shit. Bear vs. Jesus shit.
As we’re floating along, we came to the first of a couple “rapids”. I put that in quotation marks, because it’s not so much “rapid” as it is “a little faster and a little more downhill”. As I slid down the “rapid”, I stopped dead in the water. My ass, half exposed from sitting in a tube, slammed right into some jagged limestone rubble at the base of the rapid. It stung a bit, but between everything in my system, I didn’t notice it very much. I didn’t think anything of it for a while.
Until I felt a little pop on my ass. Like being thumped, but it stung, too. Maybe more like being shot in my submerged ass with a BB gun from a long way away. Real quick, then it was over. I kept floating, then POP again. I jumped and looked over the edge of my tube, but I couldn’t see anything. I was tripping pretty hard, I figured maybe I was imagining it. POP! POP! Shit! I flip out just a bit, spill beer all over myself. People are noticing me flipping out now and ask what’s going on.
I tried to play it off cool. “I nuh-nuh…summin…ass…I nuh-nuh…” If you’ve ever eaten mushrooms, you know that that’s about all you can muster, conversation-wise, after a while. POP! POP! I grit my teeth, flipping the fuck out on the inside, but for some reason trying to remain cool. I just peer back over the edge of the tube and see a couple of flashes beneath the water. Two fairly large minnows are trailing me like two goddamn kids chasing down the ice cream truck. I am flipping…the…fuck…out…
I’m tripping my balls off and fish are fucking eating my skint bleeding ass flesh.
No way. You’re tripping man, you’re just tripping. POP! POP! MOTHER FUCKER! THEY’RE EATING MY ASS! I’m on the verge of hyperventilation, but how do I bring up the fact that my ass is being eaten alive by blood thirsty minnows at a time like this? I jump off of my tube and reposition with my head and arms dangling out of the tube, dragging my legs and ass underwater. Hoping maybe I can kick my feet around and scare off the minnows and not create a scene. POP! POP! Inside my head is a little girl standing on a chair with her skirt hiked up to her knees and screeching. But, I’m still desperately trying to be cool.
I hop back up on my tube and set my ass on the actual tube itself. Not very comfortable or conducive to drinking beer, but no fish are going to be eating my ass flesh up there. And they didn’t. I floated like that for a while, looking like a completely uncomfortable moron to those who didn’t know that I was feeding the fish. Finally calm again, I slipped my ass back inside the tube, cracked open another beer and floated along.
They were back. For the next two hours, I floated along, gritting my teeth and going wildly insane inside my head. I kept pulling up my pants, but they would just keep popping the fabric until paddling and other movement exposed a little ass to them, then POP!
But there’s no real good ending to the story here. I didn’t freak out and go live in the woods or anything. We got home safe and sound. I don’t have a big hole in my ass cheek, eaten away by fish. It’s just a story I don’t think I’ve really ever told anyone, and I always thought it was funny. Maybe you did, too…
Happy Earth Day!