*This post originally appeared on theday.com on July 17th, 2007
As I mentioned in an earlier entry, in Arkansas we recently picked up one of Will’s friends, known as “Pimp” (which can be ironic or literal depending on the situation). Adding a third person changed the dynamic of the trip—big time.
For the first week and a half Will and I slept only when we couldn’t keep our eyes open, we ate only when devoured by hunger. I’ve survived a few days on nothing but oatmeal and V-8, and some beer. We had no schedule. When presented with food, we feasted. We thought this was the only truly nomadic way to travel.
Pimp is a different species. He is consumed with three necessities: eating, health, and fitness. He is, as you might expect, a specimen of health. He’s jacked. He has run a 4:01 mile.
Now, any fit person needs all of the above things. They work together. They are important to me, and important to Will. We both consider ourselves athletes. We do sets of pushups and pull-ups when we stop for gas.
But Pimp’s day revolves around these things. His obsession with them is comical, and maybe tragic.
He will disappear around a corner and we will find him sneaking pull-ups on a tree branch. Or he will run back across the street munching on a McDonald’s chicken and bacon sandwich, some chicken nuggets, a burger, and a side salad. Most of his travel-bag’s weight comes from supplements: Myoplex, Cell-something-or-other, and various protein powders.
I’m not sure if this is the healthiest addiction possible or just as unhealthy as any addiction.
When confronted with this problem, Pimp answered, “I don’t see how I’ve demonstrated that I’m addicted to any of those things so far.”
More than anything else this showed Will and I how deep-seeded the problem might be.
For a while Pimp’s habits determined the course of our journey. We stopped when he wanted to. We slept at a motel instead of camping. We made room for exercise and “caloric-intake.”
But I think we are slowly breaking him, as is life on the road.
He doesn’t ask to eat as often. He has now spent a sleepless night at a campsite in Arkansas, where it was too hot and buggy to relax, and raccoons scurried over our bodies.
Will and I have enjoyed breaking Pimp. We joke about his domestication. We joke that his stomach, “the furnace,” controls him like a schizophrenic personality. He fires back, with jokes about “going with the flow,” and “chilling out.”
But I also fear that breaking him could be tragic. The things that drive him are the things that make him a force to be reckoned with. He is always on-point: sharp witted, energetic, and probing. He makes fun of people without them knowing it. He’s sarcastic and hilarious. He’s an amazing specimen.
Will and I get tired. We get hungry. We get mad at Pimp.
This isn’t to say that he and I are kindred spirits either. In tight quarters, little things get under our skin.
I get mad when he turns the music down to talk.
I think he gets mad when I turn the music up over his talking.[i]
I guess I can best explain our differences through our eating habits.
I like pretty much everything. I consider this a blessing. To me, it’s all delicious. I don’t eat bugs, but if was more socially acceptable I’m sure I would. They’re not that bad.
Although Will is also incredibly optimistic, when it comes down to it he likes familiarity. He has his foods that he won’t touch. He like crackers and cheese, but not cheese by itself.
For Pimp, it all depends. He wants to maximize healthy caloric intake so he likes to eat a lot, of what and how much can get complicated.
Things haven’t exploded yet, but if they do then maybe this will give everyone some kind of contextual basis for why.
[i] I love to listen to music and Will loves to talk. Incidentally, one of the most crushing aspects of the trip so far has been that the speaker’s on Will’s Volvo don’t work on the right side. I had planned to spin a musical mosaic through much of the country: bluegrass through West Virginia, Dylan through the Midwest, Tab Benoit through the bayous of Louisiana. But I’ve almost given up. None of us can agree. Both Pimp and Will are song people. I’m an album person.