Part Nineteen: Chapter Ten, Part One: Cheryl Kills a Horse.
Cheryl shows up at Packer Lake Lodge and immediately feels sorry for herself because omg there's food for sale at the restaurant and stupid Cheryl only has sixty cents to her name because she is an idiot. She thinks about quitting again and then waits for people to take pity on her and give her everything she wants because that's how life is supposed to work if you're Cheryl Strayed.
"A menu sat on the counter and I picked it up just to see. 'Do you have anything that costs sixty cents or less?' I asked her in a jesting tone, so quiet my voice barely rose above the din.
"'Seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee. Free refills,' she replied."
HA HA, YOU STUPID ASSHOLE.
Cheryl tells the waitress that she has her own food, so there, stomps outside and goes to pout in front of the lodge. And of course, some dumb lady approaches her to tell her how amazing she is and insists that Cheryl come back to her cabin so she can feed her and let her take a shower and I grow more and more exasperated every single time something like this happens.
Cheryl goes with the lady to her cabin, takes a shower, eats all of her food and says thank you exactly zero times. Then Dumb Lady and her Dumb Husband listen to Cheryl talk about how she loves to read and they do a book exchange because apparently everybody has a whole fucking library with them out in the wilderness. Cheryl trades in her super intellectual copy of Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories for some awful book that's totally beneath her called The Novel by James Michener and then we have to suffer through one of her goddamned flashbacks about her mom. Usually, I'd just sum up the whole flashback with a neat and simple "blah blah blah," but Cheryl says some really stupid shit in this flashback, so let's waste some of our lives by rehashing it together.
After her first whole month at college, Cheryl learns that books the general public find entertaining are just pure garbage and then decides to smear this knowledge right in her mother's face because Cheryl is a huge fucking asshole. Cheryl's mom was reading one of Michener's books and this is how Cheryl reacted to that:
"'You know that isn't a real book,' I'd said disdainfully to my mother when someone had given her Michener's Texas as a Christmas gift later that year.
"'Real?' My mother looked at me, quizzical and amused.
"'I mean serious. Like actual literature worth your time,' I replied."
How no one has bitch-slapped Cheryl to death is beyond me.
Oh, if only we could all be as brilliant as Cheryl. But a few paragraphs later, Cheryl admits that she, too, had loved Michener before she got all super smart and junk. Then there was the time these words actually came out of her mouth as she was talking to her mother:
"'Aren't you amazed to see how much more sophisticated I am at twenty-one than you were?'"
I have no words.
She pretends like she now regrets all of this behavior and of course she doesn't because she's Cheryl Strayed.
HOLY SHIT, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS-- Cheryl then yellow-blazes another 57 miles of the trail by hitching a ride with two clinically brain-dead girls. When Cheryl explains to them that she has no parents (which is a lie, by the way), they respond as such:
"'Wow,' said one of them.
"'Yeah,' said the other.
"'The upside is that I'm free. I get to do whatever I want.'
"'Yeah,' said the one who'd said wow.
"'Wow,' said the one who'd said yeah."
Yeah, wow, go fuck yourself. Never mind that you're 26 and you can do whatever you want because you're an adult.
As they're driving, Cheryl has another stupid flashback that I will skip this time around because life is only so long and I can't keep wasting mine by addressing all of her bullshit.
Anyway, the brain-dead girls drop her off at Whitehorse Campground and since we know that she had just come from Packer Lake Lodge...oh, look:
Uh-oh! More fact-checking!
Hey, would you look at that. Bet you a million dollars she still claims to have hiked those 57 miles even though she clearly didn't. I can't even pretend to be surprised anymore.
Cheryl takes a look around the campground:
"I looked around at the water spigots, the sets of brown outhouses, and the big sign that explained how one should go about paying for a spot for the night by leaving money in an envelope that should then be deposited through a slot in a wooden box."
Cheryl is way too special to have to pay for anything and decides to just make herself at home without putting the fee in the box. Awwww, snap, guess what happens. Two totally mean old people show up, demand that she pay the fee and Cheryl acts like Cheryl.
"'I need to pay?' I said, with false innocence and surprise."
Yeah, you fucking thief, you need to pay, why do you think the goddamned sign was there. She tries to whine her way out of paying and I fucking love these old people. They are having none of it.
"'None of that changes the fact that you have to pay, young lady,' the man bellowed with surprising power, his voice silencing me like a great horn in the fog.
"'If you can't pay, you've got to pack up and leave,' said the woman."
Cheryl can't even believe that she's not going to get her way and still tries to bullshit her way out of paying and again, these two awesome old people are having none of it. Tough shit, Cheryl, I guess the rules apply to you, so pack up your shit and fuck off.
Cheryl is stunned by this, I tell you. Stunned.
"I turned to my tent, stunned. I'd yet to meet a stranger on my trip who'd been anything but kind."
How soon she forgets Front-Desk Lady.
And then, because of course,
"I put on Monster and waved to the couple in the truck, unable to see whether they waved back."
Um, probably not.
She wanders out into the wilderness and god help us all, it's The Horse Flashback.
I should mention now that many of the people who hate this book as much as I do did not make it past Chapter Ten, and we're about to explore why. It's when Cheryl tortures a horse to death.
I imagine that one of the reasons Cheryl took almost two decades to write about this is because what she did is totally illegal and punishable with prison time. She waited until the statute of limitations ran out and then immediately went about making money off of her terrible crime by writing about it in her Oprah Book Club book. She is an awful human being and if she died today, I would go to her funeral dressed as a clown and hand out horse-shaped balloon animals to everybody.
I also want to mention-- before we get into the dirty business of describing how she tortured an animal to death-- that if you type "Cheryl Strayed killed a horse" into the Google search engine, the very first post that pops up is an article from the Huffington Post entitled, "The One Part of 'Wild' That Still Makes Cheryl Strayed Wince," and *SURPRISE* IT IS NOT ABOUT TORTURING A HORSE TO DEATH, she's totally cool with that. The part of "Wild" that makes her wince is from the movie adaptation where the screenwriter has her character having sex with two men in an alley. Straight from the article:
“I never did have sex with two guys in an alley,” Strayed said, laughing. Alluding to the film’s need to get a point across quickly, she continued, “They had to be like ‘Okay, she’s a slut!’”
"It’s the only moment in the movie that pushes her comfort zone, she said."
SO, YEAH. CHERYL CAN TORTURE A HORSE TO DEATH AND BE TOTES COOL ABOUT IT, BUT WHEN THEY PORTRAY HER AS A SLUT IN THE MOVIE, SHE WINCES.
I hate her so much.
Oh, god. Let's get this over with.
Her mom had a horse named Lady, and she loved that horse more than anything (probably more than she loved Cheryl, and for good reason). After her mom died, Cheryl apparently forgot about Lady's existence because she's a selfish bitch.
"When I went home one day to visit Eddie [her stepfather] in early December nearly three years after my mother died, I was shocked by how thin and weak Lady had become."
OH, THREE YEARS LATER? THAT'S HOW MUCH YOU CARED?
Then this happens:
"When I visited that early December, I talked to Eddie about Lady's condition. He was belligerent at first, telling me that he didn't know why the horses were his problem. I didn't have the heart to argue with him about why, as my mother's widower, he was responsible for her horses."
Why IS he responsible? Oh, right, because Cheryl didn't give a shit.
Lady is clearly dying and Cheryl has two options: to have a vet come out and humanely put Lady down, or she could just shoot her.
Since Cheryl was "flat broke," undoubtedly due to her super serious heroin problem that I still don't believe for one minute, she decides to do the latter or, more specifically, she tells Eddie to do the dirty work. Eddie apparently refuses because when Cheryl checks in "a few weeks later" (obviously, Lady's comfort and well-being are incredibly important to her), Lady is still alive and Cheryl has to force someone else to kill her. She then tries to make more excuses and she can't even do that right:
"I didn't have money to pay for the veterinarian to come out and give her an injection, and even if I did, it was Christmas and I doubted he would come."
"...and even if I did?" Wait a minute. This is either just another example of Cheryl not understanding how words work or it's Cheryl accidentally admitting that she did have the money but is going to blame what she's about to do on Christmas. If she genuinely didn't have the money, that sentence should have gone like, "I didn't have money to pay for the veterinarian to come out and give her an injection, and even if I'd HAD the money..." She's either a liar or an idiot, and I have no tolerance for either.
Blah, blah, blah, she describes the temperature and the sky and shut the fuck up, and finally she makes her younger brother shoot Lady in the head. The shot doesn't kill her, so Cheryl demands that he "shoot her again," and he does, three more times. Lady still refuses to die and Cheryl keeps shouting, "Shoot her! Shoot her!" Her brother runs out of bullets and then Lady, with countless bullets pumped into her head, wobbles around, stumbles, topples over onto her side, "where she kicked her legs and flailed and twisted her neck and fought to rise again," and I can totally understand why people stopped reading this piece of shit book at this point.
Lady finally dies-- "Whether it had taken five minutes or an hour, I didn't know." And then, because Cheryl Strayed is Cheryl Strayed, she and her brother have some stupid bullshit conversation about her mom and Lady and it's just as awful and absurd as you might imagine:
"'Mom can go to the other side now,' he said, looking into my eyes as if it were only the two of us in the entire world. 'That's what the Indians believe-- that when a great warrior dies you've got to kill their horse so he can cross over to the other side of the river. It's a way of showing respect. Maybe Mom can ride away now."
FIRST OF ALL, YOU'RE NOT FUCKING "INDIANS." SECOND, YOUR MOM WASN'T A WARRIOR. THIRD, I DOUBT THE NATIVE AMERICANS TORTURED HORSES TO DEATH.
Cheryl then writes this big bag of bullshit sentence fragment that makes no fucking sense whatsoever:
"That the worst thing I'd ever done had been a healing instead of a massacre."
NO, WRONG, IT WAS A MASSACRE.
Cheryl Strayed, if you're reading this, I fucking hate you and I hope you die a slow, painful death by means of a horse stampede. Fuck you.