living furiously or (i think i might smell pretty bad)

by tobias crabtree

sometimes (most of the time) i stink. don’t go and pass heavy judgement on me right yet, i’m not filthy. i just like to play and i play most of the time and so i smell like a human that has been playing. sometimes it’s a little too tart and i know it and i try to get to a shower and knock the smell down a bit with soap and water. i don’t perfume up and get all snazzy afterwards…i just wash and that’s gotta be good enough. i have some friends, mostly guys, that stink as well (hunter, you know who i’m talking about) and i don’t mind their smell. the truth is, i like humans to smell like humans. i know, i know, when it gets too much it’s no good. i mean, i don’t wanna run people off. it’s hard enough for me to gain someone’s interest without handicapping myself with a body odor violation. i just don’t think we humans should be quite so finicky. our temperaments are so damn sensitive. at the very least we should not mind a little sniff of one another.

one christmas i came home from a fairly long foray out of the country. i’d been climbing and living out of a bag for about a year. i went home to see mama and the fam. i hadn’t really thought about it but i knew i’d been wearing the same pair of pants for a long time (yes, i washed them…no, i didn’t have two pairs. hey, i was living cheap, don’t judge!) and i only had a couple shirts. everything kinda smelled like a forest animal, lets say a river otter. my sister, adana, has a very sensitive sniffer and she pulled my kid brother to the side and asked him if he thought i knew that i smelled. i hadn’t quite made the shower for crying out loud! once i had cleaned up my brother, who is my dearest of friends, told me what my sister had said. we had a good laugh and i told her i’d be more careful with my stinkiness in the future.

i’m a little off track here. i’m really not that interested in writing a bunch of stories about myself; besides being a little egocentric it’s kinda boring…like, i’ve already told most of them (my stories) and in order to make them better i’d have to lie and that’s just stupid. also my friends, most of whom are the only ones reading this shit, would call me out.  and they already have enough ammunition without me lying a lick. so, umm, i’ll move on.

what i wanted to talk about was some of my favorite stinky friends. i don’t care that they stink because i know why they are that way. it is because they know how to live. they just plain rip! they don’t burn their days waiting for the big once-in-a-lifetime to come along. they live every day because it is once in a lifetime. they are cave dwellers and tree climbers. they are wave seekers and river walkers. they are lantern jawed blacksmiths who drink coffee that would float a horseshoe. they are dirt diggers and goat breeders. they are tiny sprites that wait for rides from one backcountry hideout to the next. they are squinty-eyed, desert fire keepers. they are seed carriers and flower eaters. they are wild dancers that have the music already built into their hearts. they are barefooted, long-distance runners who would be a draw at any public showing. they are the people on the cusp of what is accepted because what is accepted is, for the most part, a weird pile of words that someone made the status quo. i’m not talking about laws, i’m talking about the way we think we need to look and act. must we really be anything outside of the awesome animals we are? honestly, do we need smell like a chemically enhanced petunia? do we need to be the skinniest waif among the skinny waifs in the beauty magazine?

i’m not trying to be all hard core. if we have bad teeth and they can be fixed in order to make our lives better, then let’s fix ’em. i just don’t think every single tooth needs to be perfect and as white as a supernova. i like gaps in teeth (yes, nick, even your’s) and i like bent noses. i like girls that are happy with their shape, a set of fake boobs is not needed…it’s just not. i’m sure there’s a bunch of frat boys that would call me an idiot. obviously i’m stating an opinion, it’s just me being honest. folks, we’re pretty cool as is! i love the wrinkles around the eyes of a beautiful woman. there is grace in age. the idea that youthfulness is the only form of beauty is absurd. you think i’m wrong? go to the redwoods. go visit the ancient bristlecone pines. go walk in the fall across the appalacians. look into the eyes of an old-timer, look past the red veins and the wrinkles, look into the windows that hold the light of the soul. you’ll see the longest of roads, and personally, i find that extraordinarily wonderful.

when i go visit my friend hunter, i do trade work. i tattoo his big ol’ hairy, stinky carcass and he lets me work in his forge. he’s a blacksmith. his name is Hunter Dahlberg  but i call him heavy d. he’s all long armed and raw-boned with a thick beard and a knack for drinking good whiskey and strong coffee. he lets me crash upstairs in the library and at night i pick and choose books from his iron clad bookshelves. he’s as classic and as smelly and as real as they come here on planet earth. not all that long ago, when i was suffering from a bad case of brokenheartedness, he came to san francisco to see me. lo and behold, old Heavy D was in the same state i was. it seemed as if we were shipwrecked sailors, each from our own separate catastrophes, and we saw one another floating among the flotsam. we got on our bicycles and road from the panhandle down through golden gate park to the sea. it was raining a little and we peddled fast and jumped curbs and swerved in and out and laughed at each other because our hearts needed to be bound up and held together. hunter is a savage. sometimes, when the rest of the world is sleeping, hunter is squinting into a fiery forge and waiting for the metal to glow just right so that he can snatch it up and swing his hammer and make it sing that furious sounding song. and that is just how he lives…furiously.

give me that…just that, and that’d be real good. give me a furious life.