I discovered something last night that I hadn’t paid much attention to – candy and I aren’t a good mix. I rarely eat candy in general and forget the effect is has on me. However, I had an impulse buy at the PX yesterday when I saw individual boxes of Whoppers – the malted milk balls. I used to love those as a young teenager – that’s probably why I was a “husky” kid. There was a large display of the king size boxes (sure, go ahead and make the bored, fat lazy Americans even fatter – we have no self control). The display was right next to the aisle leading to the checkout line. Could this get any easier? Well, I bought a box of Whoppers and some Corn Nuts. I loved those while in high school.
Due to our work schedule that day I had a late lunch and had lost my appetite in general because I’ve stopped working out. I decided to eat the bag of Corn Nuts and box of Whoppers around 5pm yesterday as my dinner substitute. No, not a smart move. By 630pm the sugar high had worn off and my energy level quickly crashed. Work was slow and I was grumpy so I left the office early. Dumbass me decided it’d be a good idea to go to bed at 720pm – hoping that I’d sleep through the night. Well, that didn’t happen.
I awoke around 1100pm when my mind sprung into action with thoughts tumbling though my head like clothes in a dryer, making and breaking alliances with the help of Cling Free. I laid there for a good 45 minutes, trying to get comfortable through different sleeping positions. It was useless. All the relaxing thoughts and mental exercises I had used in the past were for naught. More and more thoughts busted into my noggin’ fighting for attention like a pack of boisterous 1st graders on Show & Tell day. I decided to get up. Since I hadn’t yet showered (remind me to tell you about experiment #2) I rambled off to the shower bldg. Thankfully I had the place to myself.
My roommate was in bed when I returned from the shower. He said he didn’t mind if I kept my light on and typed on the computer. He’s a very reasonable guy and I’m very respectful of his space and sleeping habits. I dinked around on the internet for a bit then wrote a letter, finally crashing around 230am. I woke at the regular time (550am) and had a surprisingly energetic day – even making it to the gym. That small success aside, I’ll remember that candy + me = bad.
The shower I took that night of sleepless frustration ended Experiment #2. Please allow me to provide the story and inspiration behind this experiment. It’s not so much from inspiration as it is boredom. It’s abit cold here (but other places have it much worse than us – my friends in another province must trek 300 meters through 12 inches of snow, ice and mud to get to their shower building. I know I have it good.) My residence bldg is only about 70 strides from the shower bldg (I’ve counted while walking in the dark) but I’m never too eager to make that miniscule trek at midnight when it’s pitch black and cold outside and I’d really rather go to bed. So, I decided to relive an experiment.
The original experiment took place in San Antonio, Texas the summer of 2007. My battalion sponsored an Army Reserve wide training exercise in SATX. My office, and I specifically were the brain trust and operations gurus responsible for the success or failure of the 200+ person exercise (it was a resounding success thanks to some great team work). However, it was a very stressful time. Trevor and I – a captain in my section who was a former infantryman – decided to see how long we could go without taking a shower. Plug your nose now.
The showers at Camp Bullis, TX where there exercise took place are kinda nasty. They’re in a square room with 2 shower heads evenly spaced on 3 walls of the room (6 total shower heads). It’s exposed to anyone outside the bldg when one opens the bldg entrance door so your “Johnson” or “Jane” is front and center for any bystander to see. You’re also completely exposed to whomever else is showering. Not the most ideal conditions for privacy – much worse than here. Deciding to go without a shower was an easy choice and something guys do.
Understand the conditions we were in: San Antonio is hot in the summer with temps regularly hitting high humid 90’s, crappy showers, insane work schedule (hey, something akin to what we have here!), and utter exhaustion at the end of the day. It was an easy decision and actually turned in to a competition. We laid the ground rules – one could shave, wash the face & feet but nothing more. Whomever deviated first lost the bet. We didn’t bet on anything, just dumb guy braggin rights.
By Day 9 both Trevor and I threw in the proverbial towel for two reasons. First and foremost – on Day 10 the battalion had a free day (it was a three week exercise and this was actually day 15). Trevor had planned to see his kids and didn’t want to be disowned. (Funny how that could happen, it’s usually the other way around – but this IS the 21st century.) But secondly and just as importantly we had really started to stink. Although the rules allowed us to change our socks, t-shirts and underwear I still smelled horrid. In fact, by Day 7 I had taken to holding my breath or breathing through my mouth when I pulled my pants down to pee because the malodorous stench had started to make me gag! Neither one of us paid much attention to the protests our roommates had lodged starting on Day 5, (they were pussies) but I couldn’t refute the downright disgust my own body had started to register. Enter Experiment #2.
Refer back to the paragraph about not wanting to trek to the shower at night. Well, at the end of an 18 hour work day when you’re really tired, it’s dark and cold outside and you have no one to impress, (have you ever smelled an Afghan?) going without a shower isn’t a big deal. It’d be different if I was back home. The shower is inside my house, I could turn on the light to get to it, I wouldn’t have to fight the elements (rain), there’s no ungodly septic stench (see update #5) and I wouldn’t have to jostle with a bunch of guys for a shower. But I’m not, I’m here in lovely Afghanistan and the aforementioned factors are in play.
I figured I could make it an easy 2-3 weeks before I had to shower. It’s spring-ish here and rarely gets above 55 degrees (downright balmy I’d say). I’d not sweat as much this time as I did during that funky summer in San Antonio, unless I started going to the gym again. Woody (see a previous update) doesn’t shower that often so I’d be in familiar company on the “stink” level. I was bored and wanted to see how far I could push my limits this time (the longest I ‘d gone w/o showering was 19 days on my first deployment to Afghanistan in 2001). Plus I didn’t care.
Well, my non-showering total had reached three days when the “Whopper” tragedy struck. I had thrashed about in bed for a good 45 minutes before finally getting up. My head had begun to itch so much over those three days that I had realized how often I was diggin at the scabs which were surely forming on my scalp. Thankfully I have a habit of avoiding mirrors (unlike Woody) so I was oblivious to any mothball size chunks of dandruff which had probably taking refuge in my hair. Hence, a trek to the shower wasn’t out of the question. I’m not complete pig mind you, more of a lazy piglet at times.
The shower still stunk of “eau du septic tank” but my relief at being able to wash my scabby head far outweighed the none-too-familiar offensive smell. If my mind hadn’t been racing like a crazed NASCAR driver I might not have showered or been inspired to compose this “update.” See, we both benefited from it. Hope you’ve enjoyed. I promise future updates will contain material suitable for everyone (with a warped sense of humor).