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You discover the best things when you’re takin a leak in the country. I’m heading out of Fort Bragg, going to the off track betting parlor in Santa Rosa. By the time I get over the top of Highway 20, just before Willits, I gotta leak, so I pull over to a huge wide spot, hike down the hill a bit, hang on to a tan oak tree and let fly, so to speak.

I am standing on a rather steep hillside, sliding slowly downwards, not a new position for me, reminds me of the old days on the farm, holding on to a tough old limb and looking around.

Fog on the coast, I can see that. This means the river will be flat cause there’s no wind. Across a bit, there’s a steep meadow with some cows and they got a good lean goin, and so do I, so I figure, amen, brother.

I hear the cars shootin by up above. Every noise, I hope it’s not somebody pullin in, a truckload of fishermen guys from Yuba City way. They’ll all have to pee, and there’s going to be a crowd of us shortly, all of us dangling from a tan oak branch talking about the fog on the coast. Talk about strange fruit and an acknowledgement to Billie Holiday in this Black History Month. There’s a saying amongst the wild ones in the hills; “There’s a person in every nook and cranny in the state.” To prove it, pull over somewhere, make it difficult, say the Branscomb Road, not much traffic, vast empty spaces. Pull over, at the top where the locals from Laytonville have scribbled I LOVE OR HATE YOU NORMA in colorful chalk swirls, rural graffitists telling you that Boyd has cooties.

Pull over there, listen for anyone, cause you know they’re out there, some homeless person asleep in the brush. Nobody is all alone, so you step forward and what the hell is that, it’s a car coming right up the hill, oh, Christ they see me. So the saying is. If you’re caught leaking by the roadside, and someone comes, you point up and pretend you are pointing to a hawk to someone sitting in the car. I’ve tried this and it works, but don’t count on nobody coming.

Shit I can hear them, they’ve shifted into second gear to get up the hill, where an old guy is trying to relieve himself.

I hesitate to enter into the lady approach to this problem, other than to say the ladies are a lot closer to the roadside shrubbery and so poison oak would be a consideration, or between open car doors on the ditch side, staring straight at a frog.


  1. Jim Updegraff May 20, 2016

    Before you take a leak make sure there is no poison oak around. If there is, your equipment can get very sore.

  2. Alice Chouteau May 23, 2016

    Especially hazardous in spring, when poison oak,bane of my youth,mis still green and innocent.
    Thanks Bill for amlryical take on a necessity backroad driving..

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