24 March 2006

Chapter 1. We begin our journey.

What follows is comletely true. Even the names have not been changed as those involved were far from innocent.

Deep in the past century, before some of you lot were even born (it is important to establish that the stature of limitations has long since expired) I embarked on a bicycle trip across the wine country of Oregon accompanied by two other students.

I must say, we were an odd looking group. Franklin “Dark Satanic” Mills was a stocky, olive skinned fellow physics student with the habit of muttering to himself and a predilection for lederhosen (which he insisted was native Australian garb). Arthur-John Tatupu (A.J.) was a powerfully built philosophy student of Samoan ancestry, who decided to minor in physics so that he could get some “easy A’s”. I rounded out the group with my rugged good looks and impressive physique. To be sure, their descriptions might differ, but what else would one expect from a couple of pathalogical liars?

The plan, like most other Brilliant Plans™ was born of a bottle. We would ride from winery to winery, partaking in free samples and bring home a few bottles of plonk to impress the ladies. We would dress up for the trip to aid our credibility and gain access to samples of more expensive vintages.

The exercise would help sweat out the alcohol as we rode, so there would be no way that we could get to drunk. We would camp out under the stars, eat trout, crayfish, filched new potatoes and whatever else we could lay our hands on.

It was a fine plan, and it may have worked had not Franklin brought along a bottle of Southern Comfort, and had A.J. decided not to wear a Hawaiian shirt that looked like Walt Disney had thrown up on it. We looked like two drunken Mormon missionaries accompanied by Don Ho in full pimp regalia; hardly the picture of sophisticated wealth that we had originally intended.

As night approached, we decided to partake in whatever solid food the final winery offered. This turned out to be cheese and crackers.

Now, to my uncultured beak, the sheep’s milk gorgonzola smelled like a chili cheese omelet that had been left outside in a dirty sweat sock for the full span of an Arizona August. Franklin, however, stated that “it had a strong head, pointy feet and a delicate schnauzer” or some such. He insisted that we should buy one of the 40 pound wheels to take back to our apartment. A.J., ever the philosophical epicure, agreed.

I was out-voted. We left the winery with the wheel stuffed in one of Franklin’s panniers.

After a few more unsteady miles, we decided that we were still hungry. We pulled out our supply of fish-paste sandwiches only to find that they had fared none too well in the heat.

You are probably well aware that teen-aged boys will eat almost anything if left to their own devices. This is because the part of the male brain that is used for common sense does not develop until after we are married and have our own children, but by then it’s far too late to do any good.

Call it serendipty then, for this is the only time we made a sensible decision. After one whiff we voted against projectile vomiting and dysentery, even though our alternatives were few.

“We could break open the cheese…”A.J. suggested hopefully. “NO!” Franklin and I shouted, albeit for different reasons.

There was a cow in an adjacent field. We would have milk instead.

It was decided that Franklin would distract the cow, I would do the milking and A.J. would carry the buckets of milk back. Franklin crept towards the animal, proffering a sandwich.

“Here, Bossy, Bossy…” He whispered in a creepy cow-molester tone.

Now, I don’t know very much about cows other than the fact that they make a very acceptable tofu substitute, but I do know that: A). Cows don’t eat rancid fish-paste sandwiches and B). A cow’s udders are located amidships and are equipt with six uddlets. This particular animal had but one massive udd, and that was located well aft.

I started to back away.

“Hurry up with the milking!” Franklin hissed. “She’s starting to lose interest in the sandwich!”

I decided not to educate him on the whole male/female issue as I figured he’d find out soon enough. A.J. and I ran.

Franklin, finally connecting the dots, followed close behind. We vaulted a fence to safety and turned to look at the bull that had since broken off pursuit and was now busy pawing our abandoned gear into the mud.

There was much back slapping. This scrape would make an excellent heroic story with which to regale our girlfriends. Amidst the celebration, Franklin’s face suddenly clouded over. “I smell cheese! Did one of you bastards cut into the wheel?”

“That’s not cheese.” A.J. answered blandly. “We’ve landed in a muck pile.”

It was decided that we would stay at a hotel, just for this one night, mind you, and get cleaned up.

And that's the way I likes it.