When you’re fifteen years old and drinking all day with your best friend, you need a toilet of some sort.
I was in that situation at Botanie Valley, near the village of Lytton, BC. (It’s pronounced “bo-TAN-ny”, by the way. It shouldn’t be confused with botany, the word for the study of plant biology.)
We had been riding dirt bikes all over the valley that afternoon. Beer bottles were a bit tricky to open in 1983 before twist-tops were popular, but thirst forced us to figure out ways on the metal parts of the bikes. Some spillage happened as the bottles had to be upside-down in order to make it work, but we were young and didn’t require as much to get our minds bent, so it was no huge loss.
We managed to avoid being gored by a big black bull somehow, even though when we came face to face with him around a bunch of trees he was snorting in an annoyed way and wasn’t backing off. In my panic, I stalled my bike. With surprising speed, my foot kicked that bike back into power mode and we hauled butt out of there.
Shakira and I were laughing and screaming our way down a hill at full throttle, rejoicing in the hot, hot sun over our escape from the bull, when a chain-link fence appeared in front of us that hadn’t been closed last time we passed through. Our non-lightning reflexes while under the influence of alcohol amazed us both and neither of us hit the wire mesh, but it was only by inches.
Darkness and mosquitoes eventually shut down our riding. Earlier in the daylight, the old wooden outhouse there on her parents’ friends’ remote mountainside property got plenty of use. It was as unappealing as all outhouses were, but not as intimidating as it was in the dark. We were sitting in her parents’ motorhome, drinking and listening to tunes. Tequila sunrises. Slurringly singing the Eagles song by that name, between sips, I said to Shakira, “I need the toilet.”
She said, “Go use the outhouse.”
I said, “Ew, though. It stinks in there.”
She said, “Well, just breathe through your mouth.”
I said, “No, that won’t work. I’ll get brown teeth.”
We laughed till we couldn’t breathe, and eventually I did weave my drunken way through the heaving ground to the outhouse.
And that started what would become an iconic joke between us for the next four decades. Brown teeth! Really, though, picture yourself in an outhouse and breathing through your mouth. It’s like the stink in the air gets trapped in the spaces between your teeth, leaving brown lines in your shallowly breathing grin. That’s what I meant. Not full-on brown TEETH – just the spaces between them.
Well, it was a long time ago, in my wild(er), silly(er), young(er) days.
“Brown teeth of Botanie keep on shinin’…”
(You might say my blogging has gone down the terlit lately…)