What Folly!

I was gonna write a piece on how I spent my summer, but decided instead to focus on one small part of this summer’s grand adventure.  Briefly, a tale of caution and one of customer service gone wonderfully right in a pace called “The Edge of America.”

Folly Beach Rocks.  Literally.

My family and I shared an amazing beach house with some family friends and some new acquaintances (ever seen a Scottish expat boogie-board?  I have) in the lovely little town of Folly Beach, South Carolina.  Folly Beach is about twenty minutes from Charleston, and I’d been looking forward to the trip particularly because of Folly’s reputation as one of the very few good surf spots in South Carolina.  What we discovered about the beach itself was that the hurricanes, tropical storms, and the gods-know-what-else have eroded much of the sand.  To correct this situation, the Army Corps of Engineers and others have re-seeded or replenished the beaches by dredging up ocean sand and putting it back where it belongs:  beneath the feet of hard-working Americans on their respective vacations.  (SCREW YOU, NATURAL OCCURRENCES OF NATURE!) But what my family, our friends, and I discovered is that in all the dredging, the engineers unwittingly deposited huge chunks of calcified sand and coral in and amongst the tons of loose beach sand.

Okay, so this might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Okay, so this might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Now there are wicked clusters of dark grey rocks, essentially a conglomerate of really hard sand and crustacean shells and such, all compressed by the weight of the ocean itself and probably Godzilla.  (Wait, it’s the East Coast.  Probably Clover.  Yeah.  Clover did that.)

2873097-cloverfield_monster

I done stepped all over your sand, yo. Now it’s rocks. Sorry, yo.

 

Several of us got nasty scrapes, stubbed toes, and worse.  The kids ended up wearing water shoes to play in the surf.  We happily discovered that the further south we got from the main pier (and away from the city lifeguards, as it turns out) the nicer it got.  The stones were much more sparse, and it felt like a proper oceanside retreat.  I was able to surf without worrying about serious dings and scrapes to my rented longboard.  Speaking of which…

 

Ocean Surf Shop Rules The Most.

I wanted to rent a longboard (it had been ten-plus years since I’d surfed) and so prior to the trip itself, I checked out the website for the “big surf shop on the corner” there in Folly Beach.  Seemed like they had reasonable rates, tons of boards to rent, etc.  Upon arrival, I showed up and found the shop was run by a bunch of kids.  One of the teenagers (I assume he was a teenager, but shit, man.  I’m in my mid-40’s so EVERYONE is a teenager) said “yeah, man!  We got plenty of boards!  Come with me!”  I followed to the back, where the lad threw his arms up in theatrical frustration at the empty spaces where rental boards normally took up residence.  “Oh, no!  Bummer!  I thought we’d have a few left!  Don’t worry, though.  People bring ’em back all the time.”  A different kid (I think he may have appeared in “Teen Beach Movie’) up front took my cell phone and promised to call as soon as one became available.

I never heard from them, the entire week I was in Folly Beach.

I swear before all that is holy, I Googled "surf douche" and this was the second image to appear.

I swear before all that is holy, I Googled “surf douche” and this was the second image to appear.

But rather than place my surfing fate in the hands of others, I took the walk down a few blocks to Ocean Surf Shop.  It was upstairs of some property management office, but as soon as I made the climb, I knew I’d come to the right place.  A dude that looked my age was consulting with a young guy in glasses behind the counter.  The subject was “how to determine the surf forecast when there are two different swell directions.”  A proper surf shop.  A shop where the older guys passed their knowledge to the groms who hung around during flat spells.  A shop where the older guy (okay, maybe he was in his late-20’s, but still an improvement) looked up and smiled through his beard and asked if he could help me with anything.  A shop that said “sorry, we don’t have anything over 8 feet available, but there’s one or two coming in later today or tomorrow, if you want to check back.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  I called ’em up the next morning, and the bespectacled kid (I recognized his voice) told me that a 9-foot Walden had just shown up.  I ran down, picked it up, and had a great week of fun waves.

Everyone, this is Walden.  Walden, everyone.

Everyone, this is Walden. Walden, everyone.

After returning the board, I decided to buy a trucker hat with the shop’s logo.  There was another family being rung-up at the counter, so one of the shop’s owners offered to check me out back in the office.  His assistant (wife, perhaps?) ran my card in a room full of wetsuits, boogie boards, and used surfboards awaiting approval for sale.  I left thinking “This is how it should be.  This is how you run a shop.”  I was treated like a customer from the outset, better yet: I was treated like a surfer, or at least a guy who wanted to surf (there’s a subtle difference.)  I was not blown off or treated like the 40-something kook that I am.  It was how businesses should work, and if you ever need anything; sunblock, t-shirts, wax, leashes, hats, surfboard or board rentals, go to these guys first.  They earned my repeat business, and the next time I’m in FB they’ll be my very first stop.

Upon returning to Indiana, my five-year-old claimed the hat for his own.

Upon returning to Indiana, my five-year-old claimed the hat for his own.

Oh, a footnote to this story:  as I left with my new hat and a few free stickers, I noticed the family that had been checking out as I’d been shopping, now about a half-block ahead of me on the busy main strip.  The kids and mom walked excitedly beside their dad, a guy about my age.  Tall, dark-haired, handsome guy.  He was smiling and so were the kids.  Under dad’s arm was a nine-foot Walden surfboard, the same one I’d just returned.  I don’t know if you wanna call it the “circle of life” or whatever, but it made me smile.  Another satisfied customer.  Another family with a huge bag of memories.

As long as they watch out for the rocks.

Clutter.

Many years ago, my brother and I used to “jam” in my mom’s basement.  I’d riff some Barre chord punk riffs on my reverse-headstock Aria Pro II, my brother would pluck away on his Fender bass.  We weren’t any good, of course, but that didn’t matter.  It was therapeutic.  Now and then, our buddy Danny would join us. Danny lived up the street and was essentially another brother.  One day we discussed getting an actual punk band together, and what we should call it.  The winning entry, in my opinion, was Danny’s suggestion of “Clutter.”  He said it represented the disorder of our music and the varying styles we would surely incorporate into our live shows and albums.  I thought it was wonderful.  But, as you can’t download our music on iTunes and I’m writing a blog in my spare time instead of banging groupies and dodging rehab, “Clutter” the band never took off.    But that name is still a good one, so I’m using it for this catch-as-catch-can blog entry.  Thanks, Danny!

First up: This…

D'awww!  Some Indonesian kid made his own Mushroomhead band member!

D’awww! Some Indonesian kid made his own Mushroomhead band member!

That right there is a little voodoo keychain guy that my Sweet Baby got me on one of her travels because she knows I miss surfing.  She’s a good ol’ gal, that wife of mine.  Anyway, the other day I noticed something horrifying.  Apparently, my little surf guy was a proud member of Hitler’s Waffen SS.  Take a look at the board…

Gott in himmel!

Gott in himmel!

Sure, it’s probably supposed to be a lightning bolt, like the legendary Lightning Bolt surfboards surfed by the likes of Gerry Lopez at places like Pipe.  Probably.  Or maybe this is supposed to be a promotional piece for “Surf Nazis Must Die.”  Either way, I’ll betcha green money that some little Indonesian kid fucked this shit all up.

Speaking of things I didn’t notice at first…the other night was a windy, blustery, snowy one in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  I sat alone in my loft and fired up the ol’ Netflix, choosing (for the 346th time, I believe) John Carpenter’s amazing, classic, incredible 1982 sci-fi thriller “The Thing.”  (Trust me, there really is no better dead-of-winter movie.  None.)  Anyhow, my friend and fellow blogger Blake (The Beard Gospel, Poptopia Madness, reviewer for Nerdspan, etc.) pointed this particular Easter egg out to me, so I waited eagerly for the last few moments of this film to see it for myself, and…I’ll be goddammed.  I’ve been watching this movie for over thirty years now and never caught it.  Peep this…

“Okay,” you say. “What’s the big deal?”  Here’s the big deal: SPOILER ALERT!!  SCROLL TO THE NEXT BIT IF YOU DON”T WANT TO HAVE A THIRTY-YEAR-OLD MOVIE THAT YOU SHOULD’VE ALREADY SEEN RUINED FOR YOU!!

The big deal is that Childs is The Thing, although technically he could be one of several “Things.”  Did they all get blown up?  Maybe.  MacReady was able to escape, so what if that final creature-combo that looked like a Super Mario Dragon Plant mixed with the worst sort of Greyhound rescue ever at Red Lobster didn’t include Blair?  Or Garry? Nauls?

Back to the point. How do I know that Childs is the creature?  We can’t see his breath.  MacReady’s is steaming and swirling with every word, encircling his head with clouds of cheap scotch-scented respiration.  Childs is in within three feet of MacReady, and yet…nothing.  Nary a wisp. He’s not a real human. He’s waiting to either freeze again so that when the rescue crew comes to the research station, they cart his remains back to the mainland where he will thaw and get into an amazing street fight with Rowdy Roddy Piper over whether or not to put on glasses that let him see (ironically) the alien invaders as they really are…or he straight up kills MacReady and assumes his identity.  (Although my money is on Mac.)

kurt

Remember, when you mess with Mac, you also mess with Snake and Jack. Just fair warning, pard…

Next subject:  Burn Notice.  Yeah, I know. I’m late to the party.  The wife and I basically started watching it this last fall because Netflix.  Boy, is it good.  I don’t know what I expected.  Maybe I figured it’d be a revamped Silk Stalkings or that stupid syndicated show wherein Hulk Hogan drove a powerboat around the Florida panhandle or whatever.
"Terry?"  Really?  Also: there are three discs in this box.  Three.  how...how did this come to pass?!

Terry? Terry?!? Okay. What if all this time, the Hulkster was really just Terry Bradshaw with a paste-on Fu-Manchu?!? It would make so much sense…

Anyway, it struck me the other day why I enjoyed it so much (Burn Notice, not that “Terry” Hogan crap.)  The writing is decent, the locale is spectacular (seriously, as long as there is a Miami, there will be crime dramas and such) but it’s really the cast.  Man, what a cast.  It reminds me of Firefly, in that it’s the grand total of all the pieces…that’s what makes this thing shine.  Change one character…say, the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond instead of Sharon Gless…or Tom Selleck as Sam…and the whole thing falls apart.  Sure, characters come and go, and it took about a season before everything gelled so perfectly, but imagine Bruce Boxleitner playing Jayne Cobb.  “Did that almost happen?!?” you shocked fanboys scream, to which I simply whisper back “No.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the Hero of Canton!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Hero of Canton!

But here’s my semi-legitimate fear:  I really hope this show doesn’t end up being like LOST or something.  Seriously, consider this theory that I just came up with:  what if Michael didn’t actually get burned in the pilot episode.  What if he got SHOT?  What if the whole show is either in his mind or in actual purgatory?  That would explain why he has trouble leaving, why he’s surrounded with the only people he’s ever really cared about, and why he’s compelled to help others.  He’s trying to earn his way NOT back into the service of the CIA, but into heaven.  It’s very possible that in the final episode of the series, Michael sacrifices himself for someone else and the show ends with him standing in a bright, white light as the voice of Morgan Freeman welcomes him home.  Or even better, Sam Axe is actually wither God or THE DEVIL!!! Does that make a lick of sense?  No. But tell me it wouldn’t fuck with some heads.
Thanks for reading, all.

Beatin’ Them Wintertime Blues.

Look, I don’t just like wintertime:  I LOVE it.  I really do.  The brisk air, the clothes that cover my fat, the snow…it’s all really awesome.  It is.  But here’s the thing:  for the last nine years I’ve lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and our winters can be trying.  I know, I know, there are worse places.  A friend of mine hails from Fort McMurray, Alberta.  It starts snowing there in goddam SEPTEMBER.  In my defense I’ll point out that for the three years before living in Da Fort (as it is sometimes called) I lived in New Bern, North Carolina.  Carolina ain’t Florida or Hawaii, but one story sticks with me about my time in NC.  My lovely wife Heidi and I were at the gym, using side-by-side treadmills or something, watching the television.  The local news was reporting that there was a two-hour school delay the following morning…for snow.  The thing is, and this is what caused Heidi and myself to look at each other and giggle at these poor Carolinians in raw, Midwestern condescension was that NOT A SINGLE FLAKE HAD FALLEN.  They were delaying school over a forecast…FORECAST…two inches of snow.  Possibly.  We guffawed until a friend native to the area remarked that they literally had no salt trucks in the county and probably no more than a handful of snowplows in the entire state. It made sense.  Indiana does not post hurricane evacuation routes, and I’ll bet most people in New Mexico don’t carry flood insurance, so…yeah.

My Sweet Baby.  On a boat.  In the Caribbean. I feel better now.

My Sweet Baby. On a boat. In the Caribbean. I feel better now.

The point of this whole intro is to underscore how different the snowy tundra of Northern Indiana is to the mild barely-frost-covered winters of North Carolina.  And while I was very grateful for the prospect of a White Christmas again, I’m afraid that this winter has been harder than most to bear, probably because it’s been so damn mild.  “Wait…WHAT?” you ask, all perplexed by my contradictory statement.  It’s true.  A few weeks ago it was 60 degrees in Ft. Wayne.  I’ve used my snowblower maybe twice this season.  There wasn’t any hockey for the first half.  It just hasn’t felt like winter, and the motto I like shouting at my friends and family is “shit or get off the pot,” usually yelled as I sit reading on the toilet, not actually defecating.  (Makes your legs fall asleep, so it does.)  So I’m ready for this “season” to be over.  No snow?  Fine, then.  Turn up the sunshine, baby.  Break out the shorts.  And if that ain’t happening just yet (fuck you, Punxsutawney Phil!  YOU LIED TO ME!!) then allow me to offer these tips for getting through the mid-winter hump.  They work.  Trust me.

Video Therapy

This encompasses all manner of stimuli.  The go-to, easy method is to browse Netflix for shows and movies that are set in a warmer, preferably tropical, location.  This winter the wife and I have begun watching Burn Notice, and love it.  Not just because the characters and story are fun and smart (and Bruce Campbell.  ‘Nuff said, baby) but because all the transitions/cutscenes are footage of Miami.  People on Wave Runners, beach umbrellas to the horizon, and tons of eye-candy.  I mean, they oughtta call it “Butt Notice,” amirite? And for the ladies, well…Michael Westen is often shirtless.  But I’d also recommend “Point Break” or “The Endless Summer” along with episodes of BAywatch or even that one show where Hulk Hogan had a powerboat.  But don’t stop with the TV and movies.  I have played the holy hell out of “Far Cry 3” not only because it’s fun and immersive, but let’s face it…you’re on a tropical island that could be anywhere between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.  Gorgeous, and you can imagine you’re actually swimming in warm azure waters (while trying not to get shot.)

Hi, ladies!  Want some yogurt?

Hi, ladies! Want some yogurt?

Audio Therapy

This is easy.  Got some Bob Marley on your iPod or Pandora channel?  Crank that shit up, mon.  Now, personally, I try to avoid this when it is the absolute dead of winter with the sun going down at 4:30 in the afternoon and a foot of snow on the ground.  When I do chance it,  I hear a voice made of cold, frozen tears tell me “Your magic will not work here.”  There definitely has to be a proper setting.  Daytime, perhaps.  Or when the first snowmelt begins.  Then, the music is a catalyst.  It’s a power-up of epic proportions.  And if there’s an unusually mild and sunny day, one where you briefly consider cracking the window on your ride, and you just happen to throw on anything by Sublime or Jimmy Buffett, then no power in the ‘Verse can stop you.  Feels good, man.  Let it flow.

Of course, listening to Marley or Sublime sometimes makes me want to, uh...what were we talking about?

Of course, listening to Marley or Sublime sometimes makes me want to, uh…what were we talking about?

Aroma Therapy

Perhaps the most powerful of these methods is the one most closely connected to memory.  Scent.  Smells. Aroma.  A long time ago, I even blogged about how powerful your olfactory senses are and how a whiff of perfume can send you right back to the night you lost your virginity, or how sniffing a roll of cloth tape can transport you to the hockey locker room.  For me, the smell of a bar of surf wax is magical.  It is EVERYTHING that I love about the beach.  Likewise, when I go by the Yankee Candle display and smell their line of summer/tropical candles..holy shit. Makes me wanna cry.  Coconut?  Coconut/Lime?  Beach Walk?  Seaside Resort? Surf’s Up?  Coral Sand?  Tropical Mango?  Coconut and Lime?  GAAAAAAAHHHH!!! Even the old-school, simply named “Ocean Water” makes me swoon. And in fairness, there’s not much better during the month of December than all the spice/mint/pine/cookie/pumpkin/hearth fire scents.  But after, oh, let’s say January tenth, THAT SHIT HAS GOT TO GO!!!  SO LONG, CRANBERRY CHUTNEY!!  HELLO, BEACH PARTY!!  There’s one more bit of therapy I have for you, and it’s not really a good idea, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.  We’re all adults here, right?  So let’s just get this elephant out of the room already…
Like actual summertime, many Yankee Candles apparently smell like booze.  Awesome!

Like actual summertime, many Yankee Candles apparently smell like booze. Awesome!

Tanning Therapy

I might as well call this “cancer therapy.”  You know this, right?  You know that there’s a decent chance that not only is your skin going to dry up like a stale pork rind, but you stand a better-than-average chance of melanomas and other potentially hazardous/deadly health concerns, right?  We’re clear on this?  Okay.  Okay, I thought so.  Just wanted to make sure.  But here’s the dirty little secret: sometimes that ultraviolet light is good for you.  Or at least “not so goddam terrible for you.”  Quick story: I worked the overnight shift at 103GBF, a radio station in Evansville, Indiana for about a year or so.  It was dark when I got home around 6:30 every morning.  I wouldn’t leave the house until at least three in the afternoon, meaning that in the winter months I had maybe…maybe…two hours of sunlight.  I fought depression.  I felt like a vampire.  And then someone mentioned the “Light Therapy” that doctors have recommended for people in places like Alaska or Siberia that are affected by the appropriately-named SADs.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It’s a real thing, and part of the treatment is basically putting your head under an ultraviolet light, tricking your brain into believing that it’s being bathed in lovely sunshine and kicking in some seratonin or whatever and making the “blahs” go away.  Another friend in the conversation mentioned “sounds like a tanning bed for your head!” And BINGO!!  GREAT IDEA TIME!!  I booked myself a couple of sessions in the ol’ cancer closet at a local gym and…now, bear with me here…I felt 100% better after one session.  It was sort of a revelation.  I’m also willing to consider that maybe the “treatment” was all placebo:  I thought I would feel better, so I did!  Whatever.  It’s like people with colitis learning that nicotine can help keep their symptoms at bay and then have to wrestle with the idea of either smoking cigarettes or spending a fortune on (and becoming addicted to) nicotine gum.  Not an easy choice.  Another motto I love to scream out at passers-by is “Everything in moderation.”  A glass of wine a day is beneficial.  A box of Franzia is not.  I’ve read articles about how kids today are vitamin-D deficient because over-protective parents slather 100-SPF sunblock all over their kids.  As a result, NONE of the sun’s rays penetrate, resulting in deficiency.  Like Ramirez sang to Connor MacLeod, B-A-L-A-N-C-E.
But aren't seals already sort of, um...brown?

But aren’t seals already sort of, um…brown?

That being said, I think we’ve had enough of you, Winter.  Thanks for coming by.  Four months is plenty.  Buh-bye.  Good seeing you, old friend.  Don’t forget your hat. (Of course, everyone is invited back to check out my forthcoming blog entitled “Jesus, Summer…Why You SO HOT?!?” to be published sometime in July.  Balance.)

Point Break Breakdown

Yeah, I did it.  Pulled out my worn DVD copy of Point Break.  Watched it.  It was awesome.  It is always awesome.  My wife?  She don’t think it’s so awesome.  In fact, she says “Why you wanna watch that thang agin fer da ate-hunnert time, foo?”  (It’s true.  My wife is a crude stereotype of various ethnic and regional caricatures.  I love that about her.)

Yet another stereotype!  I'm rollin'!  (Like a rolling pin.  Get it?)

Yet another stereotype! I’m rollin’! (Like a rolling pin. Get it?)

Her point, delivered in some made-up patois, was that I tend to watch the same movies over and over again.  This is in part because A) there aren’t a whole lot of good movies out there that bear repeat viewing B) Netflix doesn’t update their selections nearly often enough for my tastes and C) flicks like Point Break are popcorn.  Not terribly fulfilling, but they’re awesome in a pinch.  You can always throw a bag of Pop Secret in the ol’ microwave, and you can always find a movie like Point Break on one of the cable networks even if you don’t have access to a DVD copy.  Perfect.

Real subtle, Spike.  Really. Also?  Maybe just change the name to "PENIS TEEVEE!"

Real subtle, Spike. Really. Also? Maybe just change the name to “PENIS TEEVEE!”

But upon my most recent viewing of the epic tale of young FBI agent Johnny Utah (ed. note: if you haven’t seen Point Break and/or don’t know the plot synopsis or principal characters, then you won’t get much out of this blog, as I have little time to recap the subtle intricacies of the whole tale.  Sorry!) several points leapt out at me, like daggers of the mind (actually nothing like that, but I’m on a roll and LOVE parentheses.) For example:

I seriously don’t think Busey ever learned his lines.  At all.  Was most of his performance ad-libbed?  Not a bad guess.  For example, watch the scene where he’s in the car and Utah is about to get pummeled by the Surf Nazis.  He either can’t remember his lines, never learned them, or was distracted by something off-camera.  Terrible.  (But brilliant, because it’s Busey.)

LOL! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING!

LOL! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!

At no point does Utah ever ask (or even wonder, it would seem) what the hell Bodhi does for a living.  I mean, kid…wake up.  You’re investigating a bunch of bank robberies.  The chief suspects would appear to be surfers.  And here’s a surfer who has a multi-story concrete-bunker mansion full of candles and pictures and fire-eaters and stoned chicks and it’s pretty much right on the beach and HOW THE FUCK DO YOU AFFORD THIS PLACE, BODHI?!?!  ALSO, WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME?!?! JUST IN CASE IT’S ON SOME INTERPOL WATCH LIST OR SOMETHING!

This guy wants to be Flea.  He is not.  Also, his hat is a shirt.  Radical.

This guy wants to be Flea. He is not. Also, his hat is a shirt. Radical.

Keanu and Swayze were teammates before this movie.  Yep.  In the classic (actually pretty bad) hockey flick Youngblood.  Keanu didn’t have a huge role.  He was one of the goalies on Patrick’s Hamilton Mustangs and I think he was supposed to be Québécois.  Or retarded.  Maybe both.

See?  Goalies are CRAY-ZAY!!!

See? Goalies are CRAY-ZAY!!!

Lori Petty was fucking huge in the 90’s.  This flick, Tank Girl, A League of their Own, In The Army Now…then…what?  Where did she go?  Also, is she a lesbian?  If so, that’s a waste, because she’s hella cute and has amazing eyes and a sexy little voice.

Oh, yeah.  She's starring in "The Rachel Maddow Story."

Oh, yeah. She’s starring in “The Rachel Maddow Story.”

“Hide the shit!” is one of my favorite lines in any movie, and it’s been used in a bunch of them.  I also like to yell it loudly when I have unexpected guests arrive at my door, just in case it actually IS the cops and they’re coming for my shit.

"We know you're in there, Watson!  We can hear you doing weird hair stuff!"

“We know you’re in there, Watson! We can hear you doing weird hair stuff!”

You know I love and am fascinated by quantum mechanics and such.  As an amateur quantum physics aficionado, let me assure you that there is no way Utah’s surf board would’ve fit in his Shelby Mustang, even with the windows down.  Dude.  Like, not ever.  Simply not possible.  The board seemed to be about an 8′ funboard with chunky rails.  The only possible way to do it would be to put down the windows on both driver and passenger sides and stick the board straight through. The problem with this configuration, of course, is that there would be no way to drive the car.  Unless you had a little midget with a periscope, in which case maybe the car would get going so fast that there would be lift created by the board sticking out on both sides and the Mustang would actually end up airborne!  A flying FBI surf-mobile!  Fuck, I hope they make a sequel and it includes a midget-driven primer-covered flying FBI surf mobile.  God damn, I can smell the Oscars…

Get Dinklage on set NOW!!!

Get Dinklage on set NOW!!!

Ooo, That Smell…

Mmmmm!  Cookies!

There aren’t really any cookies, mind you.  It was a trick.  A ruse.  I wanted you to start imagining fresh-baked cookies.  Sugar cookies, chocolate chip…those peanut butter ones that mom used to kind of press down on with a fork to make the crisscross hashmarks…doesn’t matter.  Because odds are you did think of cookies and there’s a chance that you thought of specific cookies.  That’s because the sense of smell is one powerful motherfucker and we totally take it for granted.  Also, smart people claim that it’s the sense most keenly tied to memory.  That girl you fell for that one crazy spring break?  You know her smell.  And it’s not just perfume and hair conditioning cream and fabric softener…it’s the sum of all of that and more.  It works the other way, too…that bitch from accounting that thought Obsession was the greatest fragrance EVAH?!?!  ERMAHGERD!!  You know, the one who you could literally smell as she got out of her car in the goddam parking lot?!  Yeah.  Now, no matter who’s wearing that particular perfume, you somehow know upon meeting them that you hate them a little bit.

Unless they look like this. I mean, c’mon…it’s just horrible, eye-burning, nostril-scorching perfume, right?

It works for things, too.  Things like tequila. You have a bottle of it, puke your guts out, and then the next time you’re out someone offers you a shot and you respond with (all together now!) “Dude, no.  I can’t even SMELL that stuff without puking.”    See, it’s science!  Your body has conditioned itself to avoid certain harmful substances, and tequila is certainly a harmful substance.  You’ll smell it before you taste it or even see it, because your sniffer works pretty damn good despite being less important now than it was six million years ago.  Good job, nostrils!

So here, then, are some of my FAVORITE smells.  Good ones.  Happy ones.  Scents that take me immediately to a happy place.  Like the beach, for example…

Surf Wax

Specifically, Sticky Bumps original surf wax.  Sure, Sex Wax is the one everyone talks about because the 80’s.  But this is the stuff, along with the occasional Mrs. Palmer’s, that made it onto my deck all the time, especially on the longboard.  The way it bumped up (hence the name) without having to go over it again and again was, well…magic.  But the SMELL!!  Imagine a tropical drink that featured coconut, vanilla, and blueberries.  Imagine your truck being filled with that awesomeness on the way to the beach, and then on you after laying on it and rubbing against it all day.  Wow, I just turned myself on a little bit.  Awesome.  I had some friends send me a few bars of this stuff a year or so ago even though I am currently land-locked with NO chance of surf.  But when I want to take a break and hit the beach, I take a good long pull off o’ one of these babies and I’m instantly there, even if only for a moment. 

Seriously, these stickers and that ‘Oakley Thermonuclear Protection’ shit…everywhere. The 80’s kinda sucked.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Ice Rink

This is one of those “greater than the sum of its parts” deals.  Yes, the actual ice itself is amazing.  Remember Doug Dorsey smelling the ice in The Cutting Edge?  That shit is legit, yo.  But it’s more than that for me.  The mouldy foam flooring, the hockey pucks…a new roll of hockey tape…the slightly sickening burning smell of someone heating up their stick blade along with the singed smell of the glue as it pops free…beer…all of it.  Any hockey player knows how comforting it is to get to a new rink in a new town and instantly know you’re at peace as soon as you walk in.  It’s a little like heaven.

These, however, smell HORRIBLE.

Patchouli (Yes, Patchouli) and Leather

I know.  Trust me, I know.  Hippies have ruined this for sooooo many people.  That’s because hippies don’t know that you’re only supposed to put a tiny pinpoint of this stuff on each wrist then rub them together.  That’s it.  That’s plenty. Those dirty bastards ladle it on by the gallon.  When so applied, it smells much like I imagine the Devil’s asshole must.  Horrible.  However, when I was a lad, it was the general scent of the counter-culture.  You’d smell it at punk shows, at Lollapalooza, the cool alternative bookstore (COUGH! The Abyss COUGH!) and so on.  The cool thing is, we all wore the standard Ramones-issue black leather motorcycle jacket.  Now, leather smells really good, especially new black leather.  Add just a hint of that hippie-juice and marinate for a few shows and smell your jackets wrist-holes.  Holy Mary, but that shit’s good.  It also happens to be the perfect example of how two different cultures can compliment each other in the right proportions.  But seriously, fuck you, hippies.

I seriously had to scour Google images to find a stock photo of a hippie and a punk together. Now to crop out the confused sick boy…

Murray’s Pomade

Let’s just address the elephant in the room right now.  This smells like black folks.  It does.  I’ve always loved this baby-powder-meets-honey-and-vanilla scent, but until I got older and started actually using it, I was just always envious of black folks and how good most of them smelled.  (Like any of us need to be any MORE envious of the fact that our Nubian brothers and sisters will ALWAYS be cooler than white folks, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins excluded.)  But man, I don’t care if I’m using this stuff on short hair to mess it up (like white folks do) or part or pomp it up (like white folks used to do) I love the smell.  No lie, I’ll sometimes open the orange tin (a lifetime supply!) and get a big whiff of it to carry me through the day.  There are other great-smelling hair care products…Dax Wave-n-Groom smells a bit like Murray’s, and if you add a topcoat of Tres Flores Brilliantine, you get a sublime mish-mash of powdery, waxy, wonderful-smelling awesomeness.  Good God, I want to eat my own hair now.  It’s that fucking good.  I’m waiting on a response from Jan Hella over at The Rebel Rouser to hear what his favorite pomade scent is.  If Murray’s doesn’t finish in the top-three, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

Ladies and gentlemen, something most of us will never see: the bottom of a tin of Murray’s. It’s…it’s beautiful…