There comes a time when the dirt under your fingernails becomes as much a part of you as the nail itself, and when you notice that’s become the case, it’s time for a shower.

The bus’ engine rumbles beneath them as they hurtle down the nighttime highway in search of another destination, another sold-out arena, another truck-tip, another load-in, another day in the life of a roadie.  Some of the guys drink beer.  One drinks red wine, one white.  Two and a half men is on the flat-screen, playing in a marathon from someone’s collection, now moved to the PS3.  There’s a huge bouquet of flowers that one of the girls rescued from a dressing room after the band had left; the eucalyptus makes the bus smell a little fresher.

Two days, two shows, two cities then a half a day to rest and recover, then two more days and two more shows in two more cities.  As that cycle draws to a close, a roadie can’t doubt what he does for a living, can’t delude himself into thinking that it’s glamorous or exciting or really anything but exhausting and repetitive.  And dirty.  The cases, the cables, they get so dirty and gleefully transfer their soot, their grime to hands, shoulders, forearms, which do their best to spread the love to pants legs, faces and necks.  Repeated washings are part of the ritual, and the showers in the various locker rooms seem inviting until you start to wonder how you’ll hang up the towel or where your toiletries will go, or why you left your shower shoes in the bus.  Then you wonder what the hell a grown man is doing owning shower shoes in the first place.

The night stretches on and the inside of the coffin-like bunk is a haven away from all men and all halves, from flowers quickly wilting, from beer bottles and snack temptations.  Before you drift off, you hope that somehow this 150-mile ride will take 12 hours and that you’ll sleep through all of it, and that when you arrive, you’ll somehow be clean.