Sunday Scribbling - "Foul" - 2/3/08

When I read the prompt, “foul,” I knew it was something I could really sink my teeth into. Several ideas came to mind but I knew there was one story that needed telling. I think you will agree that the following experience graphically defines the adjective “foul”. I only hope my description adequately paints the picture.

Four of us were heading back to England from Paris. I was the driver with my ex-wife, Dawn, Mitch Voiers, and his wife, Pat, as passengers. We had just had a great lunch in Paris and were driving to Calais to catch an evening hydrofoil to Dover.

Since we had time to spare and Calais is only about a three-hour drive from Paris, we decided to venture off the main highway and take a more rural road that I saw on the map. I did not know that secondary roads in northern France are not of the same quality as secondary roads in developed countries. We suddenly found ourselves on a single lane farm road through fields of stuff growing. My agricultural knowledge allows me to identify corn and cotton. Anything else is just stuff growing. Dawn and Pat were quick to point out that some of the fields were lavender. I still don't know how they knew that. Women and their plants.

It was actually quite pretty driving through endless green, lavender, and gold fields on a bright sunny day, until ……………..

We soon came upon a tractor pulling a trailer with a huge tank on it that appeared to be spraying something onto the crops. We had noticed the sweet notes of lavender were soon replaced by an odd aroma, but at 50 miles an hour it had not become too offensive. Often unknown scents emitted from Mitch, but he was usually quick to claim them. As we found ourselves slowing to a speed that didn’t even move the needle on my speedometer and directly behind the trailer, the stench became much more prevalent. Mitch was the first to identify the trailer as a “honey wagon.” We were trapped behind a machine that was spraying human excrement on the shit growing. At that point, the crop had been reduced in my mind from stuff growing to shit growing.

There was no room to turn around, as there were drainage ditches on both sides of the narrow road. I was willing to sacrifice my car's suspension to get away from this unholy farm implement, but when I looked behind I realized there was a nearly identical “honey wagon” about half a mile behind us closing fast as I had stopped to put space between us and Pepe Le Pu (what I later appropriately named the driver).

To make matters worse, Mitch (who I found out had even a weaker stomach than I do) began to add a spew of vomit to the shit cocktail that was being applied to whatever was being cultivated next to the road. This resulted in an epidemic of hurl. I was next and I can tell you that boudin blanc, Bordeaux, and Brie do not taste nearly as fine exiting. The girls lasted the longest as they had a stronger constitution from changing countless fetid diapers. But not even the most ill fed infant could process anything to compare with the toxic environment we found ourselves trapped in, and they soon joined us in the barf-o-rama.

So we became some sort of sad, three vehicle, body waste ejaculating parade for what seemed like hours. I stayed far enough back from the trailer to avoid the spray, but that was little help. The drivers of the tractors were wearing some sort of gas mask/breathing apparatus, probably left by the Germans from one of the world wars as they marched through France. The Germans had a much easier road than us four Americans on vacation. I would have traded my car straight up for one of those masks. If they worked against mustard gas, there was an outside chance they would help against the fumes we were breathing.

We tried rolling up the windows between throw-ups, but that made it even worse as the tiny breeze that five miles per hour generated felt like an ocean zephyr. Once there was a place I thought large enough to pass but that would mean the jets of fertilizer issuing from the tank trailer would spray the car and they probably would not have let us on the ferry. We finally came upon a crossroad and took a right not caring where this road went. Luckily it did return to the main motorway.

I drove at an incredibly high speed trying unsuccessfully to outrun the stench. Had we gotten pulled over, I don’t think a Gendarmerie would have approached the vehicle. Had they just opened fire on us I think it would have been welcomed by the four of us.

We eventually found our way to Calais and onto the hydrofoil. One thing about our condition was that any seasickness encountered would not have been able to produce a drop of sick from any of us.

I have never returned to France. I also wash all produce thoroughly as I have since learned this is a common practice in North America too.