Part Twenty-Six: Chapter Twelve, Part Two: Cheryl Says More Things That Make Me Want to Punch Her in the Throat
Cheryl wakes up at 8:30 in the morning and makes a big stink about how this is so uncharacteristic of her. "Eight thirty was late for me, like noon in my former life," and let's be honest, she's only gotten up early exactly one time so far on the trail, which happened the day before. She's such an amazing expert-hiker, I can barely contain my awe.
She leaves camp and seven sentences later,
"Within an hour, I almost stepped on another rattlesnake, though it too warned me off politely with its rattle."
JUST STOP IT. YOU ARE NOT ALMOST STEPPING ON RATTLESNAKES AND HOW MANY GODDAMNED TIMES ARE WE GOING TO BE FORCED TO READ YOUR OVERLY DRAMATIC BULLSHIT ABOUT (not) ALMOST STEPPING ON RATTLESNAKES. I've covered this so many times now. There's nothing else I can say unless I just try to come up with new and exciting ways to call her an idiot and this is getting old, even for me. Also, "though it too warned me off?" In addition to what? Nothing else happened in that paragraph. I've been mentally junk-punching her editor for the past 197 pages and I think it's finally time to give our first official shout-out to Cheryl's editor, Robin Desser. Way to go, Robin. This is a real masterpiece.
By late afternoon, she decides that there's no way she's going to make it to her next destination because of her "late start," her "throbbing and blistered feet" and "the staggering heat." She leaves the trail to head to Cassel, where there's a general store, and I don't know what she hopes to accomplish by doing this seeing as she only has seventy-six cents to her name and won't be able to buy anything. Then again, this is Cheryl, so she likely assumes that upon her arrival, people will shower her with money and food because that's how the world is supposed to work if you're Cheryl Strayed.
As soon as she gets to the store, Cheryl has a complete meltdown.
"I counted my money, on the verge of tears, knowing that no matter how much I had, it wouldn't be enough for a Snapple lemonade."
First of all, that doesn't make any sense. You have exactly seventy-six cents, so I don't understand what this whole "no matter how much I had" nonsense is all about (Cheryl probably doesn't understand prices because they're not listed in "bits"). Also, really? You're going to cry over this?
I feel bad for you this much.
She goes into the store just to torture herself by looking at all the bottles of Snapple lemonade:
"They were like diamonds or pornography. I could look, but I couldn't touch."
Cheryl doesn't understand how diamonds and pornography work.
What the hell.
Anyway, of course this happens: the lady at the counter feels sorry for Cheryl because she saw her pathetically "counting her pennies" before she entered the store and sells her a Snapple lemonade for exactly seventy-six cents. After Cheryl makes sweet, sweet love to her Snapple lemonade, she goes full Cheryl again while watching people walk in and out of the store:
"I watched them for an hour in a post-Snapple bliss that felt more like a drugged-up haze,"
and this is when we know beyond a doubt that Cheryl has been completely lying about her hard-core heroin problem because Snapple doesn't work li-- OH, LIKE I EVEN NEED TO FINISH THIS SENTENCE. Goddamnit. I wonder how many of her idiot fans immediately went to the store after reading this and tried to get Snapple-wasted.
A PCT hiker named Rex shows up and we can only assume that he's white because we don't get much of a description other than, "he struck me as the kind of person who gave a lot of bear hugs," and oh, jesus. Cheryl says that "he lived in Phoenix and held a corporate job he couldn't properly make me understand" because Cheryl can't understand anything.
Like a toddler with a boo-boo, Cheryl immediately shows Rex her feet and that's when Rex explains how REI works-- that they will replace her boots-- and I don't understand how she was unaware of their Satisfaction Guarantee if she had been shopping there for a million years in preparation for her pretend hike.
Even though Cheryl has tried to convince us that her feet are pretty much bloated, seeping bags of awful just barely hanging onto her legs by threads at this point, she "raced faster than ever" the next day over the twelve miles of the trail to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, where her next resupply box is waiting for her. She picks up her box and calls REI. I will spare you the boring conversation she has with the REI woman and blam, they're going to overnight her a new, slightly larger pair of boots to the Park.
"...now it was official: I loved REI more than I loved the people behind Snapple lemonade."
She will probably go try to freebase her boots to get REI-wasted.
Rex shows up because apparently we're supposed to believe that she beat him there, and then Stacy, Trina and the dog show up because of course they do. Trina has decided to quit the trail and suggests that Cheryl should join Stacy for the rest of the trail and Cheryl has a super-legit excuse for declining the invitation-- she's waiting for her boots and can't leave and isn't that convenient. The four of them go blow a bunch of money on "hot dogs and jalapeno poppers and nachos with fluorescent orange cheese" and I wonder how much money Cheryl has left now.
She wakes up the next morning and she's all alone because everyone else has moved on. She reads "half of A Summer Bird-Cage in one sitting" and I'm so impressed, except I'm not. Her boots haven't arrived yet and she throws herself a pity-party while she's walking over to see Burney Falls. This happens:
"I sat on a bench and watched a couple feed an entire pack of Breathsavers to a gaggle of overly familiar squirrels who darted around a sign that said DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE. It enraged me to see them do that, but my fury was not only about how they were perpetuating the habituation of the squirrels, I realized. It was also that they were a couple. To witness the way they leaned into each other and laced their fingers together and tugged each other tenderly down the paved path was almost unbearable. I was simultaneously sickened by it and envious of what they had. Their existence seemed proof that I would never succeed at romantic love."
OH MY FUCKING GOD, SO MANY THINGS... I... OH MY GOD.
Okay. First of all, it's a dray or a scurry of squirrels, not a gaggle, you stupid asshole. Second, I know that you like to use three-dollar words, but "perpetuating the habituation of the squirrels" does not quite make complete sense, but good try. Finally, no one feeds Breathsavers to wildlife, but I love how you make that claim in order to make these people seem terrible because what you were really upset about was how two people were seemingly in love and you once again have to make everything about yourself. Please die.
She goes back to camp to examine her feet and goes full Jeff-Goldblum-in-The-Fly by easily ripping two of her toenails off because that's how that doesn't work. She now has six toenails left. Sure. Whatever.
The next morning she goes back to the store to see if her boots have arrived and they have not. She spends hours loitering outside the store and reading Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita because she's super smart, and this supposedly happens:
"People came and went in waves, sometimes gathering in little circles around me to ask questions about the PCT when they noticed my pack. As I spoke, the doubts I had about myself on the trail fell away for whole minutes at a time... Basking in the attention of the people who gathered around me, I didn't just feel like a backpacking expert. I felt like a hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen."
WHAT THE FUCK JUST CAME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
Get ready to hear about her being a "hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen" repeatedly for the remainder of the book, never mind that she clearly has no knowledge whatsoever of the mythical Amazons because she is quite possibly the farthest thing in existence from an "Amazonian queen." I really was planning to give a brief, yet insightful history lesson about the Amazons, but I'm spent. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow. Or maybe you could Google it. I've had enough for today.