NOTE: When I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2015 I hiked a good part of the way with “The [Famous] Hiking Vikings.” [My trail name was “Lucky.”] One day when we stopped for lunch Viking whipped out his camera and asked me to tell my best story, which he put on his YouTube channel. So you can listen to “Lucky’s Best Story” or you can read it, below. Or both.
Here it is, the video version: Lucky’s Best Story
And the written version….
I smelled her before I saw her.
She was old woman walking slowly, carefully, down the aisle of Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, directly toward the section where my wife, Donna, and I were seated.
We had arrived early for a performance of Riverdance, a wonderful Irish dance company that I was eager to see.
Please, I thought, please, don’t sit anywhere near me.
But she came closer and closer. And then she turned down our row, squeezed past us, and sat down in the seat right beside me. The woman had not had a bath in quite some time and she had tried, without success, to disguise her body odor with cheap perfume.
If I were the fainting type, I would have fainted.
Instead, I put my arm around my wife and leaned my head on her shoulder to get my nose as far away from the woman as I could. People behind us must have noticed, and thought, “Look at that dear old couple, still in love after all these years.”
When the performance began I hoped I would be distracted.
Or, maybe, I would just get use to it.
I took a deep breath, through my nose, hoping that terrible odor would numb my sensors.
I pressed the Riverdance program to right side of my face, to create a barrier between the woman and my nose.
And then, for some reason, I put my hand in my jacket packet and felt two ear plugs. I pulled them out, big, orange earplugs, and I knew immediately what I would do with them.
I stuck them up my nose.
The orange earplugs helped a lot but they did not solve the problem. The woman who had sat down beside me in Memorial Auditorium smelled that bad.
I couldn’t focus on the Irish dancers performing on stage.
Luckily, there were some empty seats far away from her and Donna and I decided to move at intermission.
I went to the Men’s Restroom and, to my surprise, the line was out door, like it almost always is for women. And, inside, the Men’s Restroom was packed. After I peed I stood in line again, to get to a lavatory.
While I was washing my hands I decided to pull the ear plugs out of my nose, as unobtrusively as possible, of course.
The first one was a little slimy and it slid right out. But when I tried to pull the other one out, it was gone! I stuck my little finger up my nose as far as it would go but the ear plug just wasn’t there anymore.
It has slid up into my sinus.
Now what was I going to do? It didn’t hurt, but you just can’t just leave an orange ear plug in your head. Was I going to have to go to the hospital emergency room after the show? Was somebody going to have to cut my face open?
And then I thought, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Maybe, just maybe, it would come out if I blew my nose.
So I leaned over the lavatory and blew. The ear plug popped right out. I picked it, put it in my pocket and squeezed past the men all around me, went to our new seats, and enjoyed the rest of the show.
But I’ve always known that several men had to have seen what happened. And they must have returned to their seats and said to their wives, “Hon, you are not going to believe this. I just saw a man blow a big, orange goober out of his nose. And then he picked it up and put it in his pocket!”
Coming Friday: The Gentle Strong Man