Picking the easy targets since 1993
Published in RW#17, 2002
RW: How did your period of not showering come about?
MS: I was in a band called Jesus. We went on tour and I hadn't bathed in a month and I wondered if I could do it for two months, then it became three. If I had started to smell or something—this totally defies convention, but what I'm going to tell you is the God's honest truth. I would, a lot of times, just sweat a lot at shows and I would be totally drenched in sweat but that sweat was totally cleansing.
RW: Can you tell me more about the band, why you chose to blaspheme our Lord, and where you were touring? Were you the only one who was not taking a shower while on tour?
MS: The band Jesus was originally called Jesus Freak or Jesus F*ck, but eventually it became just plain old Jesus. There were a bunch of two word Jesus bands at that time, so we decided just to go with Jesus. And why not? Jesus was a hell of a guy. We weren't blaspheming, we were following in his footsteps, traveling around the country from North Dakota to Seattle to San Diego to NYC and back to North Dakota spreading the good word. Turns out not everyone thought our word was good. That, and we were traveling in a van, but it was an old van—'67 Ford Econoline—so maybe that counts. But, yeah, I think I was the only one who didn't shower the whole trip. Showering was only occasional for the others, but not never.
RW: Did you have people rooting for you?
MS: I can't say that I actually had people keeping tabs but it would be an occasional thing. Like let's say my friends and I go out for coffee one night or something and somebody new came, then it would get mentioned.
RW: So when you were not showering, you were involved in a relationship. How did she feel about you not showering?
MS: She was very supportive. It was a non-issue, except that a relationship thing to do is to take baths together and I guess that was out, but besides that, there really wasn't a conflict or anything.
RW: Describe how you would cleanse yourself without showering.
MS: I guess a washcloth was the tool of choice. I'm not sure how detailed I need to be.
RW: This is the Reglar Wiglar.
MS: I guess there's occasional soap, maybe a towel or two, but for the most part, just a washcloth. And playing shows.
RW: I'd like to clarify that you abstained from stepping into a shower/bath during this period. Did you ever once immerse yourself in water? If so, did you scrub yourself with loofah or anything similar while you were totally engulfed in water.
MS: No loofah, but there was the ocean. The Pacific to be exact. I'm not sure how that figures in, though. Reason being, after we went swimming, I threw my wet clothes in my bag to carry them back to the van. Well, I forgot them in there for a couple of days . . . a couple of days in the hot van and in the hot sun, steaming up all that ocean moisture in that bag . . . and when I opened it up—we were in Denver by that time, I believe—that had become the most foul, eye-watering, godawful stench you ever smelled in your life. We couldn't even keep them in the van. We tied them to the antenna on the front of the van until we could get to a laundry mat. And even then, even once they dried up, we could still smell (them) in the van when we were driving. So I'm not sure if the ocean counts or not.
RW: Describe the shower you took on December 28 of 1995.
MS: In retrospect, I think it had more to do with a girl than I'd care to admit. We just got together a week or so earlier, and things were progressing fast. That and the novelty of the whole thing had kind of worn off. I did have one more mile marker I wanted to pass. That's how this whole thing got started in the first place: "I wonder if I can make it two months without showering?" When the two month mark hit, I thought, "That was easy. I wonder if I could make it six months!" And so on. But yeah, the marker I was looking at? Not showering in NINETEEN NINETY FIVE! But it was all very anticlimactic. December 28, I thought, "Ah, close enough." I think the end of the Truman Show demonstrates what I'm talking about best. When Truman finally escaped the show, the guards who had been wrapped up in the show for who knows how many years just looked at the screen and said, "Well, what else is on?" I wish I could tell you different. That's just the way it was. Just kind of . . . whatever. The whole sensation was unremarkable. The shower was wet, and I came out "clean" and I rejoined conventional society. I guess, kind of, I mean, I just don't really like bathing in general. Kind of like a cat. I just feel really unnatural after hardcore bathing. All those natural oils just stripped away like turpentine on paint. Oh, man, to get into bed, into clean sheets, I mean, with that clean skin . . . it's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. Big, fuzzy blankets I don't mind I guess, but God, those sheets!
RW: Did you feel relieved to wash off one and a half years of funk? Did your skin seem to change back to its original non-funk luster?
MS: Nah, I didn't really feel relieved. I didn't feel a year and a half of filth. It all got washed away in the sweat baths. I never felt greasy or dirty, and I did know what those things felt like, for your information. Even my skin looked the same. I want it all to have been very monumental but it just wasn't. The transition, I mean, not the whole experiment. From that I took away some valuable ideas. Ideas I've incorporated into my general philosophy about bathing. You know, it's all a learning experience. You learn a little bit all the time. Take a class here, not bathe for a year and a half there, you pick things up. They call it wisdom, I guess.
RW: Do you think you could go another year and a half without showering?
MS: Definitely not. No, and not because I wouldn't have the dedication or stamina to do it. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I now have the capacity to stink. It's true. Its beautiful. You know I got a late start. I think I'm still probably on the outskirts of puberty right now. I've still got peach fuzz on my face. I imagine that will change at some point, but who knows when. So, yeah, I think its very likely that in these last several years there has been a continuation of the bio-chemical changes that go along with puberty which has resulted in my capacity to stink.
RW: Your shower occurred around Christmas. Did your parents or family know you had not showered in such a long time? Did they give you a bar of soap or some Bath and Body body wash as a present?
MS: The family never knew. No one knew except those closest to me. I just didn't stink back then like I can now. And the sweat baths, of course, they washed away a bunch of filth.
RW: Were you employed during this time?
MS: Yeah, I worked at a restaurant. I was very clean around the food. I washed my hands and forearms. Messing with people's food is just one line I don't cross. When people would joke around about giving a vegetarian meat, or spitting in someone's sandwich, that would just piss me off. Joking around is one thing, but probing your co-workers to see how they would react to it if you did something, that pisses me off. I can't let other people suffer just because I choose to live my life the way I do. But, yeah, no one there ever knew either.
RW: How often do you shower now? Do you still get that "chemically treated feeling" when you dry off?
MS: Nowadays, I shower maybe every few days or so. It depends. Now I'm so subject to my activity. That's lame. Damn puberty. But, yeah, now sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I just kind of play it by ear, or by nose, I guess. It's kind of like the best of both worlds. I still live beyond convention, maybe, but at the same time I'm not locked into a rigid schedule that I'm imposing upon myself. What I mean is, I'm as free as I want to be, but I know my limits as well. And as far as feeling chemically treated, I know how to do myself up just right. It's all about finding a balance, and that's pretty much what I've done. Although, there is an idea that struck me recently, not just not smelling bad, but actually smelling good. Now that's an avenue I haven't really explored yet. To some degree I have, but there are many paths untaken as of yet. Unless it totally makes me want to puke, I think I might try it out for a while.
After finishing this interview I still felt that Micah could share a bit more of the wisdom he gained. I asked him convey some of that wisdom in a poem:
dirt finds me
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