Part Twenty-nine, Chapter Fourteen: Cheryl is Too Wrecked to Masturbate
Chapter Fourteen is called "Wild" because Cheryl is a terrible writer. The book is called "Wild;" Part Four is called "Wild;" Chapter Fourteen is called "Wild." All I can do is sigh heavily and roll my eyes. For someone who abuses a thesaurus so often, she sure missed an opportunity here.
This chapter starts out with expert-hiker Cheryl once again not understanding how hiking works and-- I know. Shocking. She wastes a couple paragraphs going Full Cheryl with her complaining-- "at times I almost wept with the relentlessness of it"-- and tries to explain how going uphill and then going downhill was super frustrating, "as if everything gained was inevitably lost," and no, you're just covering terrain and that's how that works, you stupid asshole.
She brings up Bigfoot again and she will continue to do so throughout the chapter because this fucking idiot sincerely believes in Bigfoot and we'll get back to this.
Okay, brace yourselves, something super OMG happens and you'll never believe what it is--
"Lost in a spiral of bitter thoughts on my second day out of Castle Crags, I nearly stepped on two rattlesnakes that sat coiled up on the trail within a few miles of each other."
How many times are we going to be subjected to this lie. How. Many. Times. YOU SAW A RATTLESNAKE, CHERYL. YOU DID NOT ALMOST STEP ON ONE, LET ALONE TWO, OR FIVE, OR HOWEVER MANY MILLION YOU'RE UP TO NOW.
Cheryl stops to have lunch and falls asleep "without meaning to" and oh, for fuck's sake. She has some stupid dream about Bigfoot kidnapping her and then claims that she'd had the exact same Bigfoot dream the night before, so obviously this means something and Cheryl starts shitting her pants because,
"now that I'd had the dream twice, it seemed to carry more weight, as if the dream weren't really a dream but a foreboding sign--"
and please just shut the fuck up.
She meets up with Stacy and Rex that evening because of course she does and immediately starts her infantile "look-at-my-boo-boo" shit with her feet because she is constantly in need of attention and pity. It's at this point when Rex brings up something called The Rainbow Gathering and how it's supposed to be happening just nine miles away and it's exactly the type of thing Cheryl loves. So much, in fact,
"I clapped my hands in glee."
Stacy has never heard of The Rainbow Gathering and Cheryl has to explain it to her. It will be quicker if I explain it: it's a bunch of hippies in the forest, the end. Cheryl is super excited to go to the gathering and she immediately takes a quick condom inventory-- yep, still there-- and then this happens:
"In the six weeks I'd been on the trail, I hadn't even masturbated, too wrecked by the end of each day to do anything but read and too repulsed by my own sweaty stench for my mind to move in any direction but sleep."
The three of them head out in the morning to go to The Rainbow Gathering and when they get to the place where the gathering is supposed to be taking place, there's no gathering. "Rage and regret" well up in Cheryl.
"My disappointment felt tremendous and infantile, like I might have the sort of tantrum I hadn't had since I was three."
Or since you were at that water tower, or since Leif ruined the special table, or since you lost your boot, or since...
Boo-hoo, Cheryl's swamp-ass isn't gonna get laid, life is so unfair. Suddenly, they hear a noise and it's not Bigfoot. It's a truck with seven people in it. The people were "ragtag and grubby, dressed in high hippy regalia," and looking for the gathering. I'm not going to bother with the asinine dialogue that happens; just know that the guys all talk like assholes and the girls whine and complain because they're not hikers and non-hiking women are all a bunch of helpless, whiny bitches in Cheryl's mind.
All the non-hikers leave and Cheryl, Stacy and Rex meet up with some other hikers Cheryl barely bothered to mention in the past and they all hang out. One of the hikers, Sam, comes up with a trail name for Cheryl and Cheryl is having none of it because she doesn't understand how trail names work. You don't get to pick your own.
"Sam had joked that my trail name should be the Hapless Hiker... but I didn't want to be that hiker. I wanted to be the hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen."
Cheryl gets up super-duper early the next morning, way earlier than everybody else, and says that she had her stupid Bigfoot dream yet again because no she didn't and then leaves before anyone else is awake and pffffffffft, okay.
An hour later, she hears "an enormous crashing in the bushes" and OMG, BIGFOOT, except not. It was a bear and sure it was, so Cheryl starts singing dumb songs again because apparently bears are afraid of songs. So is Bigfoot.
"It worked. I didn't run into the bear again. Or Bigfoot."
Cheryl has to cross some snow and you can imagine what a big dramatic to-do that was, but she totally survives and she finally stops for lunch. The other hikers all catch up with her and she lets them hike ahead of her because she never actually hikes with anyone and isn't that convenient. Later that afternoon, a white llama covered in jingle-bells comes "bounding" out of the wilderness straight for Cheryl and what the fuck.
A woman named Vera and a little kid named Kyle emerge from nowhere to come get Shooting Star (the llama) and blah, blah, blah, they all have a conversation that never happened and then, get a load of this nonsense, Kyle wants to sing Cheryl a song and you have to be fucking kidding me.
"...and without a moment's hesitation he sang every last lyric and verse of 'Red River Valley' in a voice so pure that I felt gutted. 'Thank you,' I said, half-demolished by the time he finished."
If only someone would gut and demolish you.
This bullshit finally ends and Cheryl keeps hiking until she finds a picnic table. As she's lounging around, a deer approaches and,
"I sat still, watching her, not feeling even a little bit afraid,"
and good for you, Cheryl, way to not be afraid of a fucking deer, you're such a hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen.
Cheryl apparently is getting tired of writing about her pretend hike because she sums up who knows how many miles with, "I hiked alone the next few days," as if this is somehow different than what she's been doing, and now we have no idea where exactly she supposedly is on the trail other than she says she'd "passed the midpoint" and what the fuck does that mean. This lack of detail makes fact-checking very difficult and that's likely the point. Luckily, we're beyond the need for fact-checking. She's full of shit and we all know it.
She watches the sunset one night even though she "could've been reading Dubliners" because remember, she's super smart. As she's watching the sunset, she keeps using the word 'wild' in ways that make no sense while also managing to have a daddy-meltdown:
"Of all the wild things, his failure to love me the way he should have had always been the wildest thing of all."
I don't even.
Cheryl starts crying and because she's an amazing writer, she describes it as such:
"I cried and I cried and I cried."
It's like when she walked and walked and walked. She's really good at this writing thing. She really knows how to end a chapter.