The last couple of weeks several people have asked me about the heat cream I use on my legs instead of leg warmers. I tell them the same thing: It’s made by Mad Alchemy, I use the hottest type, “Madness,” but they should start with the mellowest flavor and work their way up.
One of the problems with embrocation is that you have to put it on once you’ve already pulled on your bibs. If you put the cream on first and then pull on your shorts, some residual amount will get spread onto your chamois and from thence onto your parts, resulting in “madness,” but not just to the legs. Once you have the bibs on, the only way to get the cream higher up onto your thighs is by rolling up the shorts.
If you have massive thighs (think Critchamp or King Harold), this ain’t gonna happen without tearing the fabric. If you have tweezly thighs (think Roadchamp), repeatedly rolling up the bottoms of your bibs will stretch them out so that you wind up with the most uncool look in existence: floppy bottom cycling shorts. So there you have the problem–the bulk of your leg un-embro’d, and no obvious solution.
Over time, however, I’ve noticed that my legs acclimate to the heat cream. What was once truly hottening to the point of extreme discomfort is now easily applied to the leg. On very cold mornings I’ll rub in a layer, wait forty minutes, and rub in another. No problem. “Well,” I reasoned, “if the skin on my legs adjusts, maybe the skin on other areas of my body would adjust if it came into repeated contact with the embrocation. Plus, what kind of wuss am I? What’s a little heat to the timber and balls that a real man can’t nut up to and endure?”
All skin isn’t equal
So before yesterday morning’s ride I broke the cardinal rule of “Madness” embro application: thou shalt not spread it if there is any chance at all that it will come into contact with thy balls.” Before putting on my bibs I rubbed in a good old layer of Madness, slathering my thighs, my hams, and my cheeks. These parts, unaccustomed to the Madness, heated up rather quickly. Using a Houdini-like maneuver, lots of stretching and pulling, and carefully navigating my legs through the bibs, I cleverly whipped on the shorts.
Sure enough, a dab of Madness had transferred from thigh to chamois to parts, and within moments I was literally on fire to go ride the bike. “Why are you hopping around so much?” my perceptive wife asked me. The reason is because there are approximately 24,000 nerve endings in an uncircumcised penis, and I can tell you for a fact that there’s not a single one in the bunch that likes Mad Alchemy’s signature product. I daresay that the morning wattage for my intervals up the Switchbacks was higher than normal not simply because of my dedication to hard training, but also because you just go faster when your nuts feel like they’re being held an inch or two over an open flame.
Happily, though, it wasn’t all that bad, and by the time my second interval ended everything was fine. It seems like even the most sensitive skin in the body will eventually acclimatize to embro. Whether repeated application results in impotence, or simply the charring, shriveling, and falling away of the member remains to be seen. For now, however, I can attest that this is a workable, go-to solution for those of you who want a more thorough embro application and who aren’t afraid of a little fire in the shorts.
The day’s adventure in nutjobs, however, was just beginning…
Fast forward to the afternoon…
Every half-decade or so I restock my jeans, just, you know, to make sure I’m in fashion. Last purchase was at Banana Republic in ’06. Someone had pointed out that my Wranglers, which stylishly ended about six inches above my navel, were not as hip in LA as they were in the Texas Panhandle, so it was with resignation that I got the jeans I wear now.
They are something called “relaxed fit.” When I bought them I didn’t know that meant “for fat people.” Rather, I thought, “Sure, I’m a pretty relaxed guy,” so I bought three pairs. The sticker shock alone put me to bed for three days. Sixty-five bucks for a pair of jeans? That would have gotten me three Wranglers in Houston and a can of beef jerky. It wasn’t until I found out that real jeans in LA can cost several hundred dollars that I started to feel less awful about the expense.
When I got home I tried them on. They were pretty baggy, but I reasoned that gangsters and hip-hopsters wore this kind of thing so, like, how bad could they be? Plus, it was kind of cool having a button and zipper below the belly button.
Last weekend at the bowling alley, however, my jeans started relaxing just a bit too much, to the point that they were downright unrelaxed as I struggled to keep them from going into full “Free Willy!” mode. So I said to the wife on Wednesday, “Hey, baby, I need to buy some new jeans.”
How to make your wife happy. Really happy.
She jumped up and clapped her hands with the biggest grin you ever saw, nothing like how she reacts when I say, “Hey, baby, I need to buy some new bike stuff,” or “Let’s bone!”
“It’s going to be your Black Friday debut!” she announced. ” I can’t believe you’re going to take me out on Black Friday!”
“I didn’t say anything about Black Friday,” I protested. “I just said I need some jeans.”
“No, it’s Black Friday, and everything’s going to be on sale. We have to do it tomorrow.” It wasn’t a question.
Feeling pretty much cornered, I threw out the old standby line. “Uh, okay, but after the bike ride.” I figured that would put a damper on things, but it didn’t.
“Great. I’ll be ready when you get back.”
“Del Amo” in Spanish means “batshit crazy shoppers with guns and pepper spray”
We got to Del Amo mall and she vanished, leaving me in the jeans section at Sears. I couldn’t believe my luck. A whole raft filled with jeans for $14.99. Roebuck & Co. brand? Never heard of it, but it looked like the buttons were under the navel, so…good to go.
It then dawned on me that maybe I should try them on. Although this is a major rules violation, and the closest I have ever come to trying on jeans was to hold them against my hip to make sure the cuffs touched the ground, I reasoned that, since I wouldn’t be seeing the wife for another twelve hours, what could it hurt?
Then I noticed that that in addition to fat people jeans they actually had something called “skinny” jeans. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m skinny. Maybe these will fit me.” So I dug through the bin, but couldn’t find anything my size–I’m a 28 x 34, and it seems like most of the Roebuck & Co.’s target market is for waists that start at 40 and go up from there.
At age 47, you’re no longer a teenager
An incoming text message told me to meet wifey at the food court, so I asked the clerk where that was and headed off. I hadn’t gone far before I passed the Vans store. Just inside the front window was a shelf of jeans. “Vans!” I thought. “They’ll have some skinny jeans in my size. Plus, I’m wearing a pair of Vans. How cool is that?”
From the look on the clerk’s face, it wasn’t, apparently, all that cool. Sure enough, they had lots of 28 x 34’s, only they were called “super skinny.” “Shit,” I thought, “I’m super skinny. Especially compared to Fussy.”
They let me into the fitting room, and it was at that point I realized all the other customers were teenagers. Never mind. I was going to be styling in about 4.2 seconds. In the fitting room I took the jeans and put a leg in. “Holy fuck,” I thought. “Is this what it’s like for a girl with a big ass when she puts on tight jeans?” I wrestled and pushed and jerked and hauled and yanked and even did a fancy little hip wiggle to get the button just above the unruly shock of curlies peeking out from the waistband of my jockey shorts. “If I don’t buy these, I feel sorry for the next fucker tries them on,” was all I could think.
Up came the zipper, and bang! I realized that this is EXACTLY how a woman feels in a tight pair of jeans, minus, I guess, the viceclamp on the balls when the fabric gets pulled together by the zipper. I hadn’t known that the diaphragm and vocal cords are connected to the testicles, but I now know they are because as soon as that zipper closed on my nuts all the air was pushed out of my lungs and I made a little whimper.
“You okay in there?” the kid clerk asked, probably afraid I was shoplifting, or worse, as it had been ten minutes.
“Yes,” I whimpered back. Pretty soon the air came back and I tried to take a step. Nut crunch, air lock, whimper. I turned to look at my legs and butt from the back, which resulted in Major Chick Empathy Moment Number Two. “These goddamn things make my butt look flat as a pancake. And what’s up with the fucking chicken legs? I can’t wear these.” A mighty wrestling match ensued and I got the jeans off. When I left the fitting room I kind of hung my head and didn’t look the clerk in the eye. I think she was laughing, at least until the little shower of curlies fell out of the empty leg.
Time flies when you’re clueless
My next stop was the GAP. I remembered the GAP from my childhood. That was the place my mom went to buy my t-shirts and jeans. Ah, Levi’s! I’d surely get what I was looking for at the GAP. I sauntered in and walked up to the clerk, a high school student. “Where are the Levis’s?” I asked.
“We don’t carry Levi’s,” she said.
“What, are you kidding me?”
“Uh, no. But our GAP jeans are right behind you.”
The store manager had been listening to our conversation. He was about my age, maybe a little older. He kind of smiled. “Sir,” he said. “we used to carry Levi’s. But we don’t any more.”
The clerk looked at him quizzically. “We did? I’ve never seen Levi’s at a GAP.”
“Yes,” he said. “We carried them until 1991. That was about five years before you were born.”
They both looked at me and the scarlet color slowly boiling up from my cheeks to my forehead. “Uh, I’m looking for some skinny jeans, 28 x 34.”
“Right this way,” the girl said. I was now so meek and docile that the sale was done. She handed me the pair. “Fitting room’s over there.”
These pulled on pretty easily, and were much looser on the balls than the Vans torturepants. I paid and left.
A model’s model
Back home the wife asked me to model my purchase. This was the first time in twenty-five years that she’d seen me wear a pair of jeans that didn’t look like denim potato sacks. “They look great!” she said. “Perfect for your long legs! How do they fit?”
I shifted a little to the right, and then a little to the left, until my body was angled just so, with my nuts positioned to keep the fabric from squeezing them. I wasn’t used to being told that something looks great. I wasn’t used to wearing pants that hurt my nuts. But she had a happy, post-shopping glow to her as she gave me the once-over. I was on the verge of saying, “They really hurt my balls,” and ruining the moment. Then I thought about the Madness and the fire I’d willingly endured just to be able to ride without leg warmers.
“They fit great,” I said. “Just great.”