Part Thirty-Six, Chapter Seventeen, Part Two: Cheryl is Everyone's Hero (excluding the guy at the café)
Cheryl hikes into the Three Sisters Wilderness and of course she has to share all sorts of information she copied right out of her guidebook or off of Wikipedia or wherever. Yet again, I refuse to dignify this nonsense.
Cheryl "I-Have-Six-Dollars-And-Twelve-Cents-To-My-Name" Strayed decides to take an unplanned detour to the Elk Lake Resort, a place mentioned in her guidebook, because her "endless hunger won out" and holy shit, the resort "had a café that served burgers." Really? That was in the guidebook? Did they post the whole menu or something?
She arrives just before eleven in the morning and is the only customer in the place. She says,
"I scanned the menu, did the math, and ordered a cheeseburger and fries and a small Coke,"
and we already know that Cheryl sucks at math so I wonder how this is going to turn out except oh wait, no, I don't. She "sat eating them in a rapture" because of course she did. Uh-oh! Time to pay the bill!
"My bill was six dollars and ten cents."
Nice math skills, dumbass. In America, there's this thing called "tipping."
Cheryl says that for the first time in her life, she couldn't leave a tip. Given that she has, without exception, immediately blown nearly every fucking cent she's ever received within minutes of laying her grubby little hands on some money, I doubt this claim. She doesn't feel right about leaving her last two pennies as a tip, so instead of leaving an actual tip, she leaves stamps. STAMPS. Postage stamps. Are you fucking kidding me. Cheryl, who supposedly used to work as a waitress, leaves STAMPS as a tip. Bull. Fucking. Shit. As she's leaving, she tells the man who served her that she couldn't give a tip, but says that she left him "something else," and,
"The man only shook his head and murmured something I couldn't make out."
I bet the words "fucking" and "asshole" were involved, and I also I don't believe that you "couldn't make that out."
She leaves in what I imagine was a hurry, heads down to the beach along Elk Lake and contemplates tossing the two pennies she has left into the lake to "make a wish" and I once again want to throttle her.
"I decided against it and put them in my shorts pocket, just in case I needed two cents between now and the Olallie Lake ranger station, which was still a sobering hundred miles away."
What the fuck are you going to do with two pennies in the middle of the wilderness. What would you do with two pennies in civilization, for that matter? I mean, thanks for not polluting the lake, but still. Also, throwing money into water does not make wishes come true, you stupid asshole. What the fuck is wrong with you. Oh, wait, I forgot that you're an idiot. My bad.
She then spends an entire paragraph talking about how her parents were poor and tries to compare herself to them and fuck you, Cheryl. I'm positive that your mom and your step-father (and eventually your step-mother) did their absolute best to use every last penny they had to take care of you and your siblings instead of blowing everything on whatever shiny shit caught their attention like you do. You're such an asshole. I don't feel sorry for you. Knowing that you got a $400,000 advance on the first fifty pages of this book also makes me not feel sorry for you, you fucking awful writer/asshole. FUCK YOU.
She says that since she was "officially among the Three Sisters," she didn't have the trail to herself anymore and "passed day hikers and short-term backpackers"-- and also, oh, fuck me right in the face-- she encounters "a Boy Scout troop out for an overnight." She then claims that the Boy Scout troop all apparently gathered 'round to listen to her bullshit because apparently there's a Heroin-Addict-Whore badge I'm unaware of.
"Do you have a gun? Are you afraid? they asked in an echo of what I'd been hearing all summer."
[Goddamnit, Robin Desser. That's not how dialogue works. I'm so tired of this. Cheryl clearly doesn't understand punctuation and apparently you don't, either. Cheryl has an excuse because she's an idiot, but you are supposed to be a professional editor, so what the fuck. Italicizing something does not equal dialogue, nor does it equal a book title, and that's been driving me up a wall for 17 chapters now. You both suck at everything. Also, while I'm at it, Cheryl and Robin clearly have differing opinions than I on the ongoing debate about the Oxford comma and, as it's a heated debate, I feel very passionately about the fact that they are wrong.]
So, yeah, Cheryl apparently gives an informative lecture to a whole goddamned Boy Scout troop about hiking in the wilderness and let's hope she told them how many condoms they need to pack and also how honey+sand= super good sex. Always be prepared, kids!
Just when you think her ego can't get any bigger, BLAM, you're wrong. She supposedly encounters a pair of men "who'd served in Iraq during Desert Storm and were still in the army," and pardon me all over the place for saying that she should have capitalized "army." It isn't necessarily mandatory, but show some respect, you stupid asshole. Try not capitalizing "Marines" and see how many minutes it takes before someone shows up at your house and shoots you in the head (Army people are not quite so crazy, but don't fuck with Marines... you better capitalize that shit). Anyway, these two Army gentlemen ("both of them captains"), who were "clean-cut, strapping, and handsome," apparently just gush over how amazing she is--
"They insisted on lifting my pack and were stupefied to find that it was heavier than either of theirs."
Goddamnit. You know what? First, this is all bullshit that never happened, so I really shouldn't be getting as angry as I'm getting. Let's pretend, though, just for giggles, that she did actually encounter two Army gentlemen. Let's also pretend that they "insisted" on lifting her pack, which they didn't. I'm an Army veteran and if I stumbled upon you in the wilderness, my immediate reaction would not be, "OMG, LEMME SEE HOW MUCH YOUR PACK WEIGHS, CAN I PICK IT UP?" That's just stupid. Then again, this is Special Snowflake Cheryl, so of course we're supposed to believe this bullshit because in Cheryl's mind, encountering her in the wilderness is pretty much the same as finding Jesus in your lint filter, or Muhammad in your dishwasher, or Xenu in your glove compartment and you should immediately fall to your knees and start worshiping because of course you fucking should. Second, since we're pretending that this all happened because hey, why not, everyone else believes this shit and maybe the Kool-Aid is delicious, let's go ahead and suspend reality for a moment to indulge in Cheryl's fantasies except let's not. The fact that they were "stupefied to find that it was heavier than either of theirs" in reality-speak translates into, "They thought I was a fucking idiot carrying far too much useless crap." THAT'S WHY THEY WERE STUPEFIED, CHERYL, NOT BECAUSE YOU'RE SO AMAZING.
A friend of mine told me once that she had a secret fantasy about being out in a club or at a wedding or basically just in some public place where music was being played and the fantasy went something like this: she would start dancing and her dance moves would be so incredible that everyone else would stop dancing and form the inevitable Circle of Admirers that you see in the movies, watch in amazement as she danced and then applaud insanely upon the end of her routine. This friend, while I love her so much, can't really dance and when she attempts to do so, there's a lot of stumbling and running into walls and falling down. Anyway, it was a secret fantasy that I'm pretty sure she was embarrassed to admit. With all that said, Cheryl doesn't seem to understand that her secret fantasies should stay secret and that she should be embarrassed about them instead of trying to make them into a reality. Everyone gathered around her outside the store in Ashland to marvel over her awesomeness. Some random Swiss lady insisted on massaging her feet. Everyone is super impressed with her. The Boy Scout troop apparently sat in a circle to learn from her. Firefighters couldn't even believe she was doing what she was doing. Two Army gentlemen were astounded with her... it goes on and on and on and all she's doing is writing out all of her fantasies as if they actually happened AND PEOPLE ARE BELIEVING THIS SHIT.
The two Army gentlemen, who had "hauled" two cans of beer for five whole days to drink in celebration of hiking five whole days, leave a gift for Cheryl.
"'Hey, Cheryl,' one of them turned to holler once he was almost out of sight on the trail. 'We left one of our beers for you in the creek. We did it this way so you can't say no. We want you to have it 'cause you're tougher than us.'"
No, wrong. No soldiers would ever say this unless they either 1) were just trying to encourage a random dumbass or 2) were the make-believe soldiers in Cheryl's fucked up mind. Unfuckingbelievable.
She goes down to the creek to drink the one beer and I'm sure she gets totally wasted of off it.
She keeps hiking the next day--
"I walked over McKenzie Pass into the Mount Washington Wilderness, and the trail became rockier still as I crossed the basalt flows of Belknap Crater and Little Belknap."
--and she makes a big deal out of describing the rocks because she wants all of this to sound legitimate. I could Google the shit out of the PCT and probably come up with more believable lies than Cheryl.
Blah, blah, blah, she hikes some more, describes the weather and I don't care at this point. She finally finds a place to camp for the night and,
"In the time it took to pitch my tent and filter a bottle of water with my insufferably slow water purifier, the wind started up again in great violent gasps, whipping the branches of the trees overhead."
Oh, for Christ's sake, she says that she's "never been in a mountain storm," reminds herself to not be afraid and I can't even anymore.
Nothing happens because Cheryl has never been in a mountain storm in her fantasy world and therefore doesn't know how to describe one. Because of this, the storm just disappears. She hears "coyotes yipping in the distance, as if they were celebrating the fact that the coast was clear," and I didn't realize that you were the Coyote Whisperer, just shut the fuck up.
She goes outside to pee and "two bright pairs of eyes gazed back" at her and whatever, sure, I bet it was Bigfoot.
"I never found out whose they were. An instant later they were gone."
So am I.