Smells Like Teen Furnace


Hey—what’s that smell? It smells kinda like, I don’t know, burning toenails. Let’s see…I just turned the heat on for the first time since last spring…that’s it! I know what that stench is: it’s the change of seasons.

The Wire compound is heated with hot-water gas heat, which is kind of like electric baseboard heaters crossed with radiators. Combined with the hardwood floors, it makes for a very pleasant, evenly-distributed warmth in the winter.

But gawd, that funk when you first push the thermostat past 70°! I don’t know how or when all the debris gets into those things during the warm months, but it’s a potent mixture of dog hair, Go-Gurt wrappers, scabs, band-aids, popsicle sticks, flicked boogers, Red Hook caps, dust bunnies, and mouse skeletons. It’s what I imagine the inside of Monte the bear’s costume smells like after a Griz football game. Rankulous.

(Speaking of Monte, I am just thoroughly impressed every time I see him turning handsprings and pulling off other amazing gymnastic stunts during the football games. The guy is in incredible shape, especially when you consider he must be at least in his mid-fifties by now!)

This olfactory onslaught isn’t the only sign of our transition from summer to fall. I look out over the valley at daybreak, and the choking cloak of fire smoke has been replaced by, well, a choking cloak of wood stove smoke blended with fog. But at least it burns off by mid-morning. Sometimes the conditions are just right, and the whole valley looks like a big cereal bowl of milk, ready to be dumped into the sink with an admonishment to the kids to quit being so wasteful.

When I cross the front yard in the frosty morning air to retrieve the paper, the quiet is broken only by the crunch of frozen dog shit underfoot. The grass has pretty much quit growing, and we’re in that post-mower, pre-snow phase where I can’t rake the leaves up because they’re frozen to the lawn.

Missoula winter soup.

See all that stuff pouring into the Missoula Valley? That’s winter, baby.

I walk with the kids to the bus stop in the dark at 7:30, and we can see our breath. “Hey, Rusty, check this out,” I say, and bend over. I fire off a blast from my butt trumpet, and a plume of pungent steam is momentarily visible near the seat of my sweatpants.

“COOL!” he says, genuinely impressed. His sister Speaker rolls her eyes and walks up the street to the next bus stop. Oh, how I treasure these precious moments of fatherhood.

There are many chores that need to be done before the snow flies. Patio furniture must be carried into the shed. Hoses must be rolled up and put away. The sprinkler system must be blown out (I’m wondering if my butt trumpet can be useful somehow). Plants need to be ripped out of the garden, and hanging flower baskets need to be taken down.

The transition seems to happen within about a week, as all the leaves begin to color up, and the Missoula valley takes on that classic look of autumn. The bleakness of winter is still a ways off, so I really do enjoy this time of year.

Football season is underway. I put all my cargo shorts in the closet and start wearing long-sleeve pants. The kids break out their hoodies and jackets so they can start leaving them at school and at friends’ houses. and Barb starts reading soup recipes. I make the switch from Tanqueray to Canadian Club.

If you look around, the signs of fall are everywhere. No Left Turn, they say. Abortion Is Murder. Road Work Ahead. No Credit Check—You Keep Car.

Halloween is over, so now we’ll be seeing Christmas merchandise and, within a couple of weeks, Easter candy. (Don’t you think Peeps In November is a great name for a Kanye West CD?)

Good films are starting to arrive in theaters, pushing aside Adam Sandler flicks, movies based on comic books, and Will Ferrell vehicles.

New shows debut on TV. They will closely hew to any shows that didn’t get axed last season, or will be remakes of lightweight crap from 1970’s television. There will be no originality, thought-provocation, or sophisticated humor. Except for the commercials.

Instead of picnics and barbecues, we’ll be hosting and going to potlucks and living room hootenannies. Just like every year, I will play one outdoor gig too many, and I’ll freeze my huevos off while I sing “Summertime Blues” through chattering teeth.

Pretty soon I’ll have to crank on the heater in the truck (which has its very own objectionable stank), and in a month or so I’ll put it in 4WD and leave it there ‘til April. Sometime in the next few weeks we’ll put snow tires on the Subaru Grocery Getter™, but likely won’t see more than a couple inches of snow again this year, thanks to global warming, which is caused by the military-industrial complex.

So bundle up, my pretties. Bundle up and go vote.


   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Bob Wire is medicated and ready to rock.

Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.