2004-10-22 / On Second Thought

SCPA Award Winning Columnist Mike Maddock Thirty–something speaks Bad hair and bad breath... a sure sign of life on the road

Mike Maddock
Mike Maddock I could never be a politician simply because I am the world’s worst traveler. This was confirmed for me on a recent business trip to Atlanta. Even politicians on the most local levels have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the road living from hotel to hotel. I admire them and all other people in professions where travel is a requirement of the job because I can’t do it. I’ve got enough skeletons in my closet to scare Stephen King, so a political career probably isn’t in my future. But it would seem that someone in my position wouldn’t mind getting out of the house once in a while.

I live with three women (actually a wife and two young daughters), a 22–month–old son who believes the hours between 2 and 4am are a perfect time to practice screaming, one slightly odiferous and very old cocker spaniel, and a television with rabbit ears (for those born after 1980, that means no cable and no satellite dish). There isn’t much down time in our house. Someone is always crying, breaking something, defaming the living room carpet, or adjusting the rabbit ears on the television set.

I’ll be the first to admit this is the life I have chosen, and I am blessed to have my children and a dog with no sense of decorum, but even Mike Brady enjoyed a little time to himself. I can’t seem to do that.

So I struggle mightily with trips away from my family even to cities as close as Atlanta. First of all, I always seem to forget some essential element on the grooming supply list. I don’t know if some cosmic force out there will not allow me to be properly kempt, or if I am subconsciously giving myself an excuse to come home quicker. Most likely I’m just an absent minded oaf. The last time I hit the road I forgot my hairbrush, and on this most recent trip, I left my toothpaste at home.

In the first instance, the hotel I was staying at was nice enough to provide me a complimentary comb. But I haven’t used a comb since the mid–80s when I was trying to obtain that perfect part down the middle of my scalp, and attempting some beauty school technique called feathering, but beggars can’t be choosers...right? I’m sure my business associates knew I didn’t usually look like Chachi. I can only hope they didn’t suddenly feel the urge to slip on a pair of parachute pants and dance to Dexy’s Midnight Runners every time I entered the room with my combed out hairdo.

After my trip to Atlanta though, I know my feathered hair wouldn’t have been near as offensive as the horrific case of morning breath my business compatriots suffered through and my tube of Crest was sitting comfortably on my bathroom counter back home in Columbia. I could have downed a jar of Tic Tacs and chewed Trident all day, but because that initial layer of burritos and Buffalo wings was not dealt with, my mouth was as fresh as a week– old wet towel.

Popping Tic Tacs and chewing gum was like spraying air freshener in a truck stop bathroom... highly ineffective.

The next trip I may forget my razor and end up looking like some Miami Vice reject the whole time. Or maybe I’ll leave the deodorant at home on a summer excursion and smell like a chili dog with onions for my next appointment. I could just leave all my grooming supplies behind and pretend I’m Rupert from Survivor . I’m sure the business community would understand.

I know most hotels supply many of the essentials necessary to keep absentminded and lonely business travelers like me from looking and smelling like mountain men. I guess I just haven’t been fortunate enough to stay in one that provided anything more than a tiny plastic comb dug out of the lost and found box. Maybe hotels could provide a homier environment for travelers like me: lose the distraction of cable TV, let an old dog with a licking problem roam the hallways, have someone on the cleaning staff let out a blood curdling scream in the middle of the night, and scatter some toys across the floor. I may end up looking like a homeless guy, but at least I’ll feel at home.

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