THE TEDDY BEAR CHRONICLES
Good friend David "DBreezy" Thompson and I departed the buzzing bingo halls of Yuma for the Kofa Mountains with high hopes of a desert bloom of beautiful wildflowers. Inspired by wonderful garden images of this special time by Marc Adamus, Ian Plant, George Stocking, and Ted Gore, it slowly dawned on me as our Kia Sorrento rocked and rolled across the bumpy road that this was the year of the most biblical drought the southwest USA has experienced in a lifetime, and that the flowers would be scarce or indeed nonexistent. Duh. Way to put it together Einstein. Would have been good to think about THAT a couple of weeks ago when we put the trip together. Without the flowers, I figured the images would be lacking the punch of those mentioned above, but the area is gorgeous anyway, and this was my first experience with a full blown cholla cactus garden. They are called the Teddy Bear cactus because they look so soft and catch the light so beautifully. F You to whoever came up with that name.
When we reached the end of the road, I stepped out of the car still in my shorts and sneakers, and walked about 10 feet off the road to just take a look around before getting changed into my boots and long pants. My first footstep in the desert produced a searing pain as the cholla needle I stepped on went through the sole, lining, and pad of my shoe and up in to the bottom of my foot. After a few choice words, I looked at Breezy and said "Shit just got real".
I won't bore you with the hours we spent carefully wandering the desert looking for some sort of organization of the chaotic world of various types of cactus. I won't regale you with the story of trying not to snicker as a cactus jumped up and bit Breezy in the calf. Those snickers turned to somber fear as I watched the blood flow from the holes left after tweezing the needles out with his tweezers. I'll go straight to the heart of it.
Day two. An interesting moonset with a pleasant sunrise produced the image you see here. The high whispy leftover contrails created some interesting patterns in the sky, and the very first hint of dawn did a nice job of evening out the moon's harsher shadows and giving the Teddys their signature glow. After shooting, we regrouped and went back to scouting for our evening session. Carefully picking our way through not only the Teddys, but the Teddy balls that get dropped onto the desert floor, we ended up a distance apart when the morning silence was pierced by a shrieking howl that could only be made by a WAYYYY too close mountain lion.... or a Breezy with a cactus stuck in him. The next lines flowed over me like ominous storm clouds preceding a tornado.
"Son.... you gotta come help me, man"
I hastily went over to discover the extent of the problem. A huge cactus ball was stuck to the tail of his shirt, and embedded uncomfortably in his right cheek. Not the one on his face. The solution was simple, I would pull the shirt straight back, and then we would carefully pull it over his head, and all would be well. With a 3 count, I yanked the shirt back off his rear and wondered if the decibel level of his shriek would cause permanent hearing damage.
"Ship shape!" I said hopefully.
But all was not well. Buried in his thick cargo pants were at least 30 quills. Destination? Breezy's ass. He couldn't reach around to effectively pull them himself. Wordlessly, he handed me the tweezers.
"What do you want me to do with these?" I asked, eyes growing wide.
"Son, you've got to get them out. I'm dying here". This was the reply I was dreading.
Steeling myself, I crouched down closer to any man's ass than I had ever been before. It's distracting, I tell you. As quickly as I could, I pulled the offending quills from the pants, ignoring the pain (mine, not Breezy's) until the job was complete.
He stood up and said simply "Thanks son", and ran his hand over the area in question..... and screamed. Clearly there were still some quills remaining. Trouble was, they were not visible on the pants anymore. We had to go deeper.
"Son, I've got to go down to the underwear".
"NO" I begged. But there was no other way.
David in less stressful and painful times
"I feel like Thelma and Louise right now", which made no sense but my mind was racing frantically so nothing was making sense. I considered whether I would rather be Thelma or Louise. Clearly, my mind was trying to distract itself.
Back to the task, there were 6 or 7 sharp quills protruding from Breezy's undergarments, and I was struck by his fashionable choice of threads. They were sort of an eggplant color, and the fabric was some of that new space age lycra material which probably was supportive, yet freely moving. I should invest in some of these, I thought.....
I set about the task, moving as quickly as I dared. Again, each pull punctuated by shouts and yells of various volume. Clearly, neither of us was enjoying this very much. Finally finished, I leaned back to admire my handiwork. I respected Breezy's choice of panties even more as the eggplant color hid the blood well.
As before, accompanied by a sigh of relief, he ran his hand over his backside. And then......
There was simply no other way. In a panic, I searched the outside of his undies to see if I had missed one. Please god let it be sticking through here so I can grab it. It wasn't to be. There comes a time in a man's life when he must step up to help a friend. Breezy has been a good and loyal friend to me for quite awhile now. He has always been funny, helpful, generous, grateful, pleasant, congenial, and enthusiastic. It was time to pay it forward.
The pants came down. The desert sun beat down on my brow, and I could feel each bead of sweat as it progressed down my temple and plashed into the sand, making interesting little abstract puddles. I observed the situation with a clinical calm gleaned from years of training as an airline pilot. This was my Sully Sullenberger moment. I could not let his down. Carefully I moved my hand forward. There were 4 quills sticking straight out, taunting me; daring me to come try to extract the little microscopic hooks that were so enjoying their new home in Breezy's bottom. As I approached I was reminded of the old board game "Operation", where the buzzer goes off if you hit the sides. My hands were shaking, and when I accidentally bumped one of the quills, the resulting scream let me know that this was some serious shit we were dealing with (pardon the pun).
I gave him a 3 count.
Except the last one was a bit of an oops. I haven't confessed to this one until just now, so when you read this Breezy, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. On the third pull, my hand slipped a little bit and I missed the quill, instead getting a tweezer full of hair.... I didn't have the heart to tell you. I figure I needed to confess my sins in case I get hit by a bus later today.
Finally, it was over. Little streams of blood tricked down Breezy's cheek. We were both covered in sweat, two men alone in the desert.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times......