I know what you're thinking. "What on earth prompted you to sleep in a ditch?" Let's not delve into the petty details. Suffice it to say that for one thing, there was booze involved, lots of it, and that secondly, there's not much napping room in a Volkswagen van with 7 people passed out inside. Besides that, my friend Mary had previously found herself on the floor of said van for a period of time, and the mysterious yellow, cakey stains had never completely come out of her shirt.
It was not my idea to go to sleep, by the way. But the driver (if what he had been doing could be called "driving") simply pulled over and announced he was too tired to continue, and I was thinking the exact same thing everyone else in the van was thinking--"No way in hell am I going to get a DUI driving this stupid van." The situation called for some quick thinking, and my brainstorming session concluded with me sacked out in the tall grass of the roadside ditch. As you might assume, it turned out to be a very bad idea--but not for the reasons you might think. You might be thinking you'd never even consider sleeping in a ditch because you might get rained on, or because a car might careen off the highway and plow into you, or even because a prison escapee might happen along and rape and rob you, then dismember your body and mail the various parts off to ex-girlfriends and/or local politicians. All valid concerns for the safety-conscious. But no, none of those are the reasons I am now an aggressive proponent of non-ditch napping. It's all about the chiggers.
Every once in awhile I run across someone who doesn't know what a chigger is. ("Humpf," I think to myself. "Smug little hoity-toity prick is clearly too good to sleep in a ditch, I see.") If you're unfamiliar, it's a little insect that a person might think has bitten them--people often say they "got bitten by chiggers" after spending the day at a picnic or some other grassy festivity. Turns out that's the fantasy explanation for what's happened to them. Here's what I found on one website about chiggers:
What a Chigger Is
Chiggers are tiny (most can only be seen with a magnifying glass) and red, and they are a type of mite. Mites aren't insects - they are arachnids and part of the same family as spiders, scorpions, and ticks. Chiggers are found all over the place, including in grassy fields, along lakes and streams, and in forests. There are adult chiggers and baby chiggers (called larvae), but only the baby chiggers bother people and animals.
Chiggers have tiny claws that allow them to attach tightly onto people and animals. Once attached, they are able to pierce the skin and inject their saliva, which contains digestive juices that liquefy skin cells. The chigger then slurps up the liquefied skin cells. To the chigger, this is a tasty meal! Having a chigger do this is very irritating to your skin. After a few days, the chigger will be done feeding and fall off a person's skin, leaving behind a red welt where it had once been.
GAK! This sounds like something out of a bad B movie! More horrifying than the thought of one teensy little chigger doing this to you is what happened in my case--hundreds of these monsters feasted on me. I was covered, head to foot, with red welts. The ensuing itchiness went on for a week or two. Incredibly demoralizing and irritating--and as it turns out, being covered in little red welts is not hot, even when you're young and can afford a blemish or two. Also not hot: Constant, frantic scratching, accomplished while wearing a look of blind desperation.
So let's review: Driving across the highways of Missouri in a Volkswagen van with 7 drunks and no less than 6 cases of Milwaukee's Best Light, 3 bottles of booze and a beer bong (for the booze, not the beer, stupid), is perfectly fine. Reaching a point in such an evening when you have a yen for a little nap is also perfectly fine. In fact, clearly, in such a situation it might be fair to assume that just about anything goes--but beware the parasite-filled ditch that looks so deceptively inviting. Sleep on the top, or at least near the top, of the pile of idiots passed out hither and yon throughout the van. But not, not, NOT in the ditch.
(Oh, and thanks to Undercover Celebrity for reminding me to mention that this didn't just happen yesterday. It was years ago, before I outgrew my "riding around in cars stuffed with drunk people" phase.)