Fear of dirty

August 6, 2022 Comments Off on Fear of dirty

I am an especially unclean person. There is grime beneath my fingernails. My toenails are nasty. The filth on the soles of my feet is so deeply ground into the skin that it’s permanently there. The last time I had a shower with soap was … I can’t remember when. My hair has dirt and grit in it. Running a comb or brush through my locks is like a mineral expedition. Skin and scalp? They are oily beyond belief. Everything I touch is left with fingerprints clear enough for booking.

The clothes I wear are rarely washed after weeks of profuse sweating, hard labor, and hard exercise. When they do end up in the washer, they get washed on cold with no detergent, so there’s rarely an appreciable difference.

Being dirty has a lot of health benefits. It protects your hair and skin from the sun. The best sunscreen is the one we evolved with, oil. Grit has sun-block characteristics, too. Being dirty also means being cocooned in bacteria of every sort. This keeps my immune system functioning at its highest levels.

Most of all, though, being dirty is fun. It’s fun to have dirt behind your ears, on your palms, swaddled around your ankles. It’s fun to splash through mud and be soaking in sweat. The smell you develop when you are habitually sweaty and dirty is uniquely yours. You develop your own smell and it’s very distinct. I like that. Sometimes I’ll be sitting down and a strong whiff of me will waft up, and you know what? I like me. Your opinion? Not relevant.

When I do clean up it usually means a five minute shower in water, never soap, shampoo, conditioner, or other needless chemical disinfectants. In between the rare shower I’ll hop in the river and scrub some of the grime and dead skin off with river sand and fresh, cool water. It’s awesome how my skin stays oiled and slick like a sharpened axe blade.

Now, then. I recognize that most people don’t like being dirty. But what saddens me more than that is what I consider the real state of modern life, which is dirt-o-phobia. This is different from mysophobia, the clinical fear of dirtiness linked to obsessive-compulsive disorders such as handwashing.

Fear of dirt is basically the revulsion that almost everyone feels at being dirty, smelly, oily, grimy, or in contact with grit. I notice it when I ride my bike along the M99, winding along the Kern River and about fifteen established campgrounds in less than twenty miles. There are innumerable symptoms of fear-of-dirtiness. The most obvious one is tossing trash from your car so the filth will be outside.

The next most obvious one is neatly setting your massive garbage bags NEXT to the dumpster so that you won’t have to touch the dumpster lid. Of course this results in ravens tearing open the bags and strewing trash all over the road and, better yet, the campsite. Surrounding yourself with filth in order to stay clean …

But by far the nuttiest manifestation of fear-of-filth is the rooftop camper, a recent invention that has all of the benefits of a tent (and when I say “all” I mean “none”) at 10-100 times the price. The rooftop camper claims to do the one thing that the lowly camping tent cannot: It keeps you off the ground and away from the dirt. Now you might wonder why anyone who hates dirt would go camping, but you are clearly ignorant.

People do not go camping because they are okay with being dirty. People go camping so that they can sit somewhere different from where they usually sit. And what do people do when sitting? Hint: It involves the elbow and the alcohols.

When I was a kid and we went camping, the purpose was very different. My dad wanted to let us go run around outside so he could run around too, and only after lots of running around would he come back to the camp site, sit on a log or the ground, and get drunk. Mom hated dirt and camping so we didn’t do that as a family often. She was perfectly content to get drunk at home, where it was clean.

As I got older and camping became more complex, dad would take us to Colorado where we would hike up really awful, long trails, laden with huge packs, set up camp, and the next morning go climb some tall-ass, snow-covered peak. Then the next day we’d hike somewhere else and climb another one. The alcohols were carried in little flasks and drunk in small quantities by the menfolk after dinner, whereas the childrenfolk would sneak away and get stoned. After the drinking and smoking everyone collapsed in exhaustion. In a tent.

Every time we got back from one of those trips, we were filthy. There was dirt everywhere and on everything. It always rained, so the grime was baked in. The next year you’d unroll the tent and it still had the smell of dirt and filth from the year before. I would always gather the fabric up to my nose and inhale, deeply. Ah, dirt! Ah, humanity!

But back to the rooftop camper because it is the opposite of being filthy.

To put it simply, if you’re using one of these things, you are not camping. Same if you’re using a “changing tent.” Do you really think anyone is curious about your ugly half-naked self squeezing into a sausage skin? Most of the people who use those dumb things could run buck naked up and down the river for days and never get a single look, much less a kudo.

No, if you are using a changing tent, and especially a rooftop camper you are simply scared of the dirt.

The rooftop camper is so stupid that even the hucksters who shill for them can’t think of a reason to have one other than, “You are stupid.” Which is a good reason, when you think about it. Listen to this list of benefits taken off BestReviews.com, the hack site that pimps for Amazon under the guise of being a credible cousin to Consumer Reports. Here is the total sum reasoning of why you should buy one of these things:

Rooftop tents are an increasingly popular choice for campers. Putting them up each night is quick and easy. You’re off the ground and out of the way of rain and mud, bugs, critters, and snakes.


Did you get that? You should buy one because they are increasingly popular. Wow! I’ll take four!

But if you’re a touch (but not much) more analytical, they are “quick and easy” to put up, and most crucially, you’re “off the ground.” The ground, we learn, is where rain comes from, and its evil sister mud. Bugs also live on the ground, as well as critters and snakes. It’s great to learn that rain is ground based, and when you are out in it the best thing to do is get off the ground.

It’s also helpful to learn that the bugs most anathema to campers, that is mosquitoes, noseeums, gnats, midges, and chupacabras, all live on the ground. Why do they seem to be in the air, equipped with those things that look like wings? I dunno.

Finally, of course, the ground is the home of critters and snakes. Although statistics on critter bites are hard to come by, snakebite statistics are a Google away. Five people die each year from them, almost as many as die from mass shootings. More frighteningly, of the 7-8,000 snakebites each year, 28% involve alcohol, presumably in the system of the bitee as opposed to the biter. I mean, if snakebites had alcohol in them, every trailer park in Texas would have its own rattlesnake den where you’d stop by for little snakebite on the way to work.

Anyway, the point of all this is that somehow the rooftop camper keeps you away from nature, which is crucial if you’re camping.

After this bit of logic, they then explain that yes, the rooftop camper can be put up in a few minutes, but, ah, they have to be permanently attached to the top of your car, they weigh a hundred pounds minimum, it takes two people to bolt them onto the roof, and it’s a quarter of an hour pack them up. Does that sound quick or easy? Maybe.

But when’s the last time you put up a fucking tent? If you can’t put up a tent in ten minutes, especially after having practiced in the living room, you are a functional moron and don’t legally belong more than five feet from the recliner in your living room. Putting up a tent means hammering in four stakes and threading two poles. That’s really more than you can handle? Who zips your pants up for you? Don’t answer that.

But taking the rooftop camper down isn’t quite as simple. Just like it’s harder to put the sperm back in the pipe than to get it out, it’s a lot harder to cram the 180-lb. Falcon Pro by RoofNest (financing available, cuz $5k), back into the hardshell carrying-condom permanently bolted atop your car.

Which brings us to my next point. Your car is now a traveling motel. And since gas is getting cheaper by the month, your new 180-lb. fold-out apartment building for six (comes with a 7.5-foot LADDER) sitting permanently atop your SUV is going to bring your already laughable gas mileage down to something comparable to a traditional junk hauler. And for folks who like their cars to be a statement, from now on your statement, whether driving to the bank, your job, your wedding, or your kid’s t-ball game, is going to be, “I take my apartment building with me wherever I go because I ain’t scared of no eviction notice/foreclosure auction.”

To get an idea of how ridiculous it is to have a pop-up motel room atop your car, and the inconvenience of having to watch every single low clearance for the rest of your life, think for a moment about what it takes to break down a tent. No, wait. You don’t have to think. I’m going to tell you. Yesterday I was pedaling by a campground and this raggedy-ass Andy, raggedy-ass Ann, and raggedy-ass kid were breaking camp. They had a tent and a 1980’s Chevy Luv that looked like it had a billion miles on it as a shuttle vehicle carrying motion-sensitive bombs. In the time it took me to pedal by, less than five seconds, raggedy-ass Andy yanked the whole fucking tent up, stakes and all, tent still filled with the portable meth lab, and threw the entire goddamn thing into the back of the pickup. They were all in the truck and backing out before I’d passed the campground.

Okay. We’ve settled that you look stupid. Your car looks stupid (redundant). You’ve paid $5,000 for something that you can get at Wal-Mart for $50. Surely there has to be a fantastic benefit we’re overlooking? Oh, yeah. As they say, “It’s off the ground.”

Now I’m pretty sensitive to marketing b.s., but this one really had me scratching my balls. “Off the ground?” What does that mean? Isn’t a tent off the ground? Isn’t that the whole point of a tent? So you don’t have to sleep ON THE FUCKING GROUND? Yah … just gets dumber.

You might think that it couldn’t get any dumber. You’d be wrong. BestReviews.com, despite its shameless fluffing for these limp non-camping items, actually delivers one negative to having a rooftop camper. Only one. Not two. One.

But before I tell you, let’s see if you can guess. No? Here’s a scenario that may help.

Tent scenario: It’s 2:00 AM. You’ve been lying awake, profoundly drunk since midnight. You are so uncomfortable that you wish a big wind would come and blow you off into the river. It’s hotter than fuck, minus the fuck. You hate camping. You hate the person who brought you here. You hate that sixth bottle of Fireball. If you had a gun you’d … wait … what’s that … oh, shit … you gotta go take a piss. You rip open the door, step on your partner’s face, and blindly stagger off into the bushes where you relieve yourself on someone’s dog. The dog awakes, bites your foot, you scream, and all hell breaks loose. You never go camping again.

Rooftop camper scenario: It’s 2:00 AM. Same situation as in the tent. Your bladder and/or bowels are about to make the bombing of the USS Arizona look like a kiddie fireworks display. You rip open the zipper, slip on the ladder, and fall 7.5 feet to your death. You never go camping again.

See? Same result, only with the rooftop camper you’re dead. Which is a big negative.

BestReviews.com is more circumspect. They say:

Expert Tip

The disadvantage of a rooftop tent comes when you need a comfort break in the middle of the night.


Talk about understatement. The disadvantage of a rooftop tent is that you have to hold your bladder and bowels until dawn after a night of drinking and chili dogs. Still think they’re worth it?

Well, they are. Because even though tents are technically off the ground, the rooftop camper is way off the ground and you can’t get as much dirt in it. It’s cleaner. Sure, you rupture your bladder every now and again, but that’s a small price to pay for no dirt. Of course there are one or two tiny drawbacks. The big one is that the rooftop tent, like all greenhouses, traps heat and becomes unbearably hot, especially if you are fat.

With a regular tent you simply stumble outside and lie in the dirt until the heatstroke wears off. But with a rooftop camper you are zipped up in your heat sink and the only relief is by having, you guessed it, a generator that will allow you to run air conditioning. I’m trying to think of what this all sounds like. Hardshell structure on wheels. Air conditioning. No rain, dirt, bugs, or critters.

Which is all anyone really wants anyway.

Hmmmm. Sounds to me like, well, being in a car. Which is exactly the point. Camping doesn’t mean driving somewhere, getting filthy, hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, playing, screwing in the woods and cleaning up once you get home. Camping means staying in your car, because for Americans there is no place like home like their car. It’s insular, it’s insulated, and it’s never more than a few hours, tops, from McDonald’s.

Which is all anyone really wants anyway.


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