The Scatman Story

The Scatman Story

The story begins with me taking my first shower at the Blue Patch, the first hostel on the Appalachian Trail. I had now been on the trail for eight days. My thighs were already red and raw from wearing my rain pants for days on end. Also like Austin Power’s said I needed a little “How’s your Husband.” To say the least the shower was great.

I stayed the night there with Dust or Waterboy. This guy carried a collapsible 5 gallon jug that had dirty brown water in it. I found out that it was water mix with wheat germ or something. He said that way it was like eating and drinking in one. His pack was old school and over filled. Stuff was hanging out all over. He seemed like a nice enough person (later he would talk shit about me). I hit the trail in the early AM. I was passed by a bunch of weekenders as I got my pack ready at the trailhead. Not far down the trail I passed the five of them. They were a cheery group, good old Southern boys. Once more I stopped to remove a jacket and they passed me again. Then once more I passed them, thinking I’d never see them again. Much further down the trail I came up on another thru-hiker. I walked behind him for a while without him knowing I was there. I finally made a throat clearing noise to let him know I was there. I basically scared the shit out of him. This guy had a mustache and dark wire framed Ray Bans on. He said his name was Mr. Pat and offered me a bite sized Snickers. Now, I didn’t trust this guy as far as I could throw him. If he wanted to take my daughter out I would have stuck the door in his face. I took the candy and said something about just eating and stuck it in my feed bag. My feed bag was a small pouch I had on my hip belt that held my daily snacks and camera.

I put distance between Mr. Pat and myself. I caught Waterboy and he looked visually pissed that someone passed him. I would learn from many hikers he had a thing about people passing him. I ended up at Muskrat Creek Shelter. Waterboy moved on because it was going to be cold and his bag wasn’t good. Mr. Pat and another thru-hiker named Citrus showed up followed by two of the weekender from before. They turn out to be Skipper and Steve. Citrus ate and then moved on too.

To understand the story and it’s comically side you must know a little about Skipper and Steve. Both are in there early 40’s, married, teenage kids, and total practical jokers. The had inspected there packs to find that their three buddies who I saw had put 5 bricks in one of their packs and the other had a 15lb barbell. Steve and Skipper each had a two man tent, stove, pot, candle lantern, and enough food for an army. They didn’t share a single piece of equipment. At one point they had their candle lanterns and my map was lied on the table. They were inspecting it like a couple of war generals planning the next days march. They even had mugs of bourbon! They joked throughout the night and the next morning.

While Mr. Pat was in the pooh shed, Skipper yelled to him “Where did that come from? I shit in the woods last night. I couldn’t find the privy!” He then went on about having Mr. Pat bring him back some “red eye-sausages”. Mr. Pat or any of us weren’t sure what Skipper meant by red-eye sausage but we knew it wasn’t good. Mr. Pat played his game and asked if he wanted eggs and toast with the red-eye sausages. It was a fun morning.

At some point in the course of his time with Skipper and Steve Mr. Pat must have told them my ass was irritated. We were the only ones in the shelter so Mr. Pat was the only one to tell them. Skipper and Steve tented. I was the first one out of camp so I thought I might see Mr. Pat again since he was through hiking plus his schedule seemed about the same as mine for a while. I never expected to see Skipper or Steve. Mr. Pat and I pushed on from Carter Gap Shelter to do another 4 miles to Betty Creek Gap. This made it a 16-mile day. We got water at the creek and I was looking for the best place to make camp when I hear singing. I couldn’t believe my ears, it was Skipper and Steve. They had done the whole 16-miles on their second day out. I yelled “Look what cat dragged in!”

We all tented in a rhododendron patch. While I was collecting wood for a fire Skipper says to me “Mr. Pat says you have an irritated scathole.   What seems to be the problem with your scathole, Scatman?” I responded by yelling “Thanks Mr. Pat.” “No problem Craig!” came back.

I tell Skipper that it’s all irritated and burning. Everyone is laughing their asses off by now. Skipper proceeds to take the joke further. He asks what I plan to do. I say I’m going to try some GoldBond Powder. He says “Your going to put some Gol’bon’ Powda on your scathole!” When he said Gol’bon’ Powda it was all fast and Southern like. It was a riot. I do a few things and he starts asking me when I’m going to powder up. I tell him when I put my pants on. Just to play along with the joke I tell him I have a mirror for my contacts and I’m going to use it to look at my scathole. This puts him into a fit of laughter. No more than a few seconds after getting into my tent Skipper asks “Are you looking at your Scathole, Scatman?” I’m like “Geez, give me a second, I don’t even have my shorts off!” Skipper then asks me if I would like my water bottle with the duct tape on it so I can tape my privates up out of the way. We are all dying of laughter now. The visual of it frightens all of us. I tell him I’m all set I have two hands and a head lamp. I tell them it doesn’t look good, all red and irritated. I powder up and finish changing.

After a bit Skipper asks how the Gol’bon’ Powda is working. I tell him it kind of tingles. During my desert which they gave to me Skipper says “Ya know Scatman, if that Gol’bon’ Powda doesn’t work I bet Mr. Steve has some ointment in his big old boy scout first aid kit. We’ll put some on that log there and you’ll tape up those privates and just slide on down the log!” I get up from the log, look at it and then to him and say “I don’t know about you Skipper but I don’t think I can spread my cheeks that wide!” The log was about 3 feet tall and probably 9ft round. He says “Your right. I bet Mr. Steve has some surgical gloves in that first aid kit too.” Steve yells out “I’m out!” Skipper turns to Mr. Pat and says, “You’re up Mr. Pat.”   Mr. Pat clearly doesn’t want to know what Skipper is thinking.

Skipper proceeds to tell him anyway. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Mr. Pat you put on those gloves. Scatman you tape those privates up and Mr. Pat will put a little ointment on one of those sticks there. You bend over and spread’em and Mr. Pat will dab a little ointment on your scathole. If anyone was within ear-shot they would have been totally sickened by now. Skipper was kidding how it wasn’t right for a 40 something year old man with kids to be talking about someone’s scathole like he was. But then he would keep it up. We all had a good laugh about it. The rest of the night went by without much more to do.

The first thing I hear out of Skipper’s mouth in the morning is “Shazam, its cold!” Now I never heard anyone use “shazam” before so I ask “Who says shazam, is that Southern?” Skippers say’s “No, Gomer Pile used to say it. Didn’t you ever watch the show?” Now I’m older than most thru-hikers at 29 but I didn’t watch much Gomer Pile as a kid. In the middle of talking Skipper stops mid sentence and says “How’s your scathole doing Scatman?” I’m just blown away. I’m thinking here we go again. I tell him its doing a lot better. The rest of the morning goes by with only a few ass jokes.

I leave first once again thinking I won’t see either Skipper or Steve again. They catch me at the fire tower on top of Albert Mountain. I hear them down below but I think its Mr. Pat. I then hear Skipper saying “Hey, Scatman, that you up there?” Now I forgot to mention it but Skipper has been teaching me how to speak proper Southern this whole time. I reply with “I reckon it’s me. That you Skipper?” I hear a “Ah huh. I reckon I’m going up.” He gets up and he’s covered with sweat and breathing hard. He manages an “I reckon I made it.” We wait for Steve and Mr. Pat but Mr. Pat doesn’t show. While waiting for Mr. Pat Skipper tells me he’s got a plan if we have to reapply the Gold Bond Powder.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. Ya know how boy scouts bear bag their food over two tree branches instead of one? Well we’re going to cut that 50’ bear bag rope you have in half. We’ll tie on piece to each ankle. You’ll tape up those privates. Mr. Pat will put on those surgical gloves. Mr. Steve and I will pull you up into a BIG OLD Y and Mr. Pat will walk over and sprinkle some Gol’bon’ Powda on your scathole!” Steve and I are floored by this ultimate plan. My question to Skipper is, “Is that what you thought about all last night?”

Now this whole time Scatman hasn’t stuck and Skipper told me that he’d think of a trail name for me since I didn’t have one before the weekend was over. I left poor Steve and Skipper on the side of the road near Rock Gap. Before I left Skipper told me my trail name was Green Mountain since I went to school at Green Mountain College and liked Vermont so much. They were ahead of schedule so their car wasn’t there yet. I hiked on some 4 or so miles and was debating what to do when Shamus came by. Shamus was thru hiking too. We decided to filter water at the stream we were sitting at and hike up to Siler’s Bald. The climbed killed me. It didn’t help that I had about 10lbs of water in my pack. I proceed to tell Shamus the first telling of the Scatman Story. Shamus listens, laughs and has a great time listening to my story. He then asks if I ever heard the Scatman song by the guys who did the Makarainna song. I had never heard it. He proceeds to sing “Bee but-up but-up bop, I’m the Scatman!” and that’s all he could remember. He also pointed out that that was about all the lyrics anyway. He then says “You know Craig I just met you and I don’t want to disrespect you but Green Mountain is a lame trail name! I think you should be the Scatman.” I’m like “You want me to basically call myself the Shitman for the next 4+ months?” Mr. Pat is dying laughing at this. Shamus said, “No, it’s a funny name and story. Plus no ones going to have it as a trail name. So for the next few weeks I reluctantly introduced myself as the Scatman.

I was the only Scatman as far I know for the 2001 season. I would tell this story another few dozen times throughout my trip. I once told it to about 35 people in the old ski lodge on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. in Maine. People would meet me and the first thing they’d ask was to hear me tell the story of the Scatman. I kind of felt like a celebrity. In Damascus Virginia at a King Dairy Mr. Pat found the Scatman song on the jukebox. We played it while we had ice cream.

To this day I’m still known as Scatman to my hiking friends and I still tell this story.

1 Comment

  1. Squiggy says:

    HA!!! I’ve never heard the unabridged version before (or at least I don’t remember hearing it… my memory isn’t what it used to be!) A classic, and by the way, green mountain is a lame trail name.