Friday, January 31, 2014

144. Spit Takes

The five of us squished ourselves into Apollo's car, which he had been able to temporarily re-acquire because he had been at his parent's house for a day. It was late June during our thru-hike, and Apollo had been long-planning a barbecue with his family in New Jersey when he reached the section of the AT that went relatively close to their house. He was several hundred miles ahead of us at this point on the trail. Through a long chain of round-about communication down the trail, Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I were able to get picked up by Apollo for a day of delightful merriment, and then a ride back to the trail afterward.

Whistle was clutching a treat, some sort of chocolate ice cream coffee milkshake concoction from a fast food restaurant, covered in whipped cream and sprinkles. She was silently sitting in the middle seat, eyes closed in blissful happiness, ingesting as much of the slushy sugar fest as possible in one breath. Her cheeks were puffed out to the side, her mouth completely full of the stuff. Grim sat with Apollo in the front seat as we drove down the highway, chatting animatedly about the fun things that would happen at the house, such as swimming in the pool and eating food cooked in a bona fide kitchen. 

"Oh, oh, do you guys have a horse shoe pit?" asked Grim.

"No," said Apollo, without missing a beat, "We keep our horses above the ground like normal people."

Being in proximity to the resultant spray of chocolate-y dairy that exploded from Whistle's face was a little like being trapped inside the car with a loose fire hose. It only lasted for a second, as most spit takes do, but the aftermath was expansive. From her place in the middle backseat, Whistle had managed to propel bits of her drink all over the backs of the seats, the knees of me and Dumptruck, the faces of Grim and Apollo, and all the way onto the inside of the windshield. There was a layer of one-molecule-thick vaporized coffee all over everything.

Apollo and Grim silently raised their hands to touch the gooey coffee face-spray on their cheeks, while Whistle's jaw dropped open in embarrassed horror at the destruction she had wrought. Dumptruck, glancing around at the scene, adopted a look of pure delight. All of these things put together was too much for me, and I succumbed to a giggle-fit so intense that I had to curl up into a tiny ball to keep myself from peeing my pants a little bit. 

"I, I'm so sorry," Whistle stammered, wiping coffee dribble off of her own chin and ineffectually reaching forward to try and smudge some of the spit off of Grim's face, "I'm just so used to being in the woods! I forgot what it was like to be in a confined space!!"

It was true, one of the most immediately endearing qualities I first noticed about Whistle was that she laughed very easily. This is an incredibly charming quality, because it makes whoever told the joke feel totally awesome. There is nothing quite as satisfying as delivering a joke and getting your intended audience to laugh. It is even more enormously satisfying if the result is not only a laugh, but such a complete breakdown of bodily function in the face of humor that your intended audience spits liquid all over themselves.

While hiking, the ratio of time of drinking water to not drinking water is a little higher than in regular life, so there's always just better odds of making someone laugh while their mouth is full. The bonus of being in the wilderness is that when you inevitably Spit Take, is that it's completely, 100% fine. Nothing on your person can get any filthier than it already is. The rocks and trees don't mind a little bit of accidental water misting. Heck, maybe the person in front of you might even appreciate the cooling-off effect on the back of their neck if it is a hot day!

It got to the point where Whistle laid down a law that none of us were allowed to speak at all if she was in the midst of drinking anything. She would lift her water bottle to her lips, someone would start to speak, and her eyes would open wide in a plaintiff, pleading sort of look that said, "Please, please have mercy on me. I am thirsty and I want to be able to actually drink without spluttering everywhere."

But be wary, my fellow hiker. Be wary of the spit take when you re-enter society, or have to exist in it for a short period of time during your hike. People don't take as kindly to all the rocket-propelled saliva. But when you're out in those woods, spit away, my friend.

Spit away.

Clever Girl


  1. I don't get the video link part. None of those people look remotely like Whistle.....