A review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Chery Strayed
Part Sixteen: Chapter Condoms, Part Condoms: Condoms.
Cheryl just received another stupid book to carry from the resupply package she had sent to herself and she's all excited to point out how brilliant she's become after having learned something from her PCT guidebook, which was the handy tip to burn the pages of books you no longer have use for in order to keep your pack as light as possible (the PCT guidebook had been trying to help any dumbasses who had thought to pack the guidebook itself on their hike and to burn the pages having to do with parts of the trail already traversed, because its authors never thought that someone as dumb as Cheryl would be out there hiking with a goddamned library on her back). Cheryl makes a big fuss over how much it "hurt" her to burn a book because she doesn't understand how books work and seems to think that she's burning the only copy of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying in existence and it makes her feel like a dirty Nazi, but it also makes her feel like an expert backpacker so she gets over it pretty quickly. She goes out of her way to tell us how much she's been reading on the trail and then this long, rambling bullshit happens which I will now subject you to, and pay attention because there will be a quiz at the end. Regarding books while on the trail:
"They were the world I could lose myself in when the one I was actually in became too lonely or harsh or difficult to bear. When I made camp in the evenings, I rushed through the tasks of pitching my tent and filtering water and cooking dinner so I could sit afterwards inside the shelter of my tent in my chair with my pot of hot food gripped between my knees. I ate with a spoon in one hand and a book in the other, reading by the light of my headlamp when the sky darkened. In the first week of my hike, I was often too exhausted to read more than a page or two before I fell asleep, but as I grew stronger I was reading more, eager to escape the tedium of my days."
If Cheryl spends every free minute of her day either hiking or reading, WHEN IS SHE WRITING IN THE JOURNAL she used to record her epic journey (you know, the one she supposedly went back and used as a reference when she wrote this awful book 20 years later)?
Also, what the fuck is Cheryl escaping? SHE IS ALREADY ESCAPING EVERYTHING JUST BY HIKING THE TRAIL, AND NOW SHE'S ESCAPING FROM HER ESCAPE, I DON'T EVEN.
Here comes another example of a total stranger going out of his way to help Cheryl and Cheryl responding by being a pissy, ungrateful bitch. Albert offers to help Cheryl lighten her ridiculous pack and tells her to unpack and then repack as if she would only be going for a short hike. Cheryl does her version of this and you're not going to believe it, she doesn't do a very good job because she only gets rid of "the foldable saw and miniature binoculars and the megawatt flash for the camera [she] had yet to use." Albert comes over to check her progress and then condoms.
"'Do you really need these?' Albert asked, holding the condoms. Albert the Georgia Daddy Eagle Scout, whose wedding band glinted in the sun, who cut off the handle of his own toothbrush [something ultra-light backpackers do to carry the absolute least amount of weight], but no doubt carried a pocket-sized Bible in his pack. He looked at me stone-faced as a soldier, while the white plastic wrappers of a dozen ultrathin non-lubricated Trojan condoms made a clickety-clack sound as they unfurled like a party streamer from his hand."
I smell daddy issues.
You know what? Go fuck yourself, Cheryl. This nice man is trying to help you and you're being an ungrateful, judgmental whore. So what, if he might have a pocket-sized Bible with him? First of all, you have a goddamned bookmobile in your pack, so you have no place to talk, and fuck you if his hypothetical Bible is making you uncomfortable.
"'No,' I said, feeling as if I was going to die of shame."
If only that were a possibility.
Cheryl then pretends to come to some sort of realization that sex on the trail was an absurd idea, but this epiphany only lasts about 2.5 seconds because as Albert continues to empty a crap ton more of useless junk out of her pack,
"when Albert wasn't looking, I tore one condom off the end of the fat roll of condoms he'd tossed aside and slid it discreetly into the back pocket of my shorts."
Because of course she did.
Albert finally finishes doing what Cheryl should have done months ago in preparation and she puts Monster on her back. It is noticeably lighter and I hope you're sitting down-- Cheryl actually says thank you for the very first time.
Now that Monster is so much lighter, Cheryl decides to go skipping through the daisies while wearing Him and please just shoot me in the face right now, she discovers another man. It's Doug of Doug & Tom, and he's just so excited to finally meet her.
"'And here I am,' I stammered, taken aback by his enthusiasm and good looks."
Thank goodness you kept that condom.
Cheryl then spends a whole paragraph creaming her filthy panties about how Doug is just the dreamiest and I shit you not, actually writes this:
"As I stood next to him, I had the feeling that any moment he'd reach for my hand and together we'd parachute off a cliff, laughing as we wafted gently down."
WHAT. THE FUCK. WAS THAT.
Tom finally shows up and he's nowhere near as dreamy as Doug. "I could tell even from a distance that Tom was Doug's physical and spiritual opposite-- bony, pale, bespectacled," so I'm sure she's relieved by this because she only saved the one condom.
Tom's feet are a mess and Cheryl, for the first and only time in this book, offers some help, but I'm sure she's only doing this to impress Doug, and she can't even do this one simple thing without sounding like the whore that she is. She offers Tom some of the 2nd Skin patches, and of course:
"Seeing them in their translucent blue wrappers brought to mind the condom in my back pocket. I wondered if Tom had packed any; if Doug had any; if my bringing them had been such a dumb idea after all. Being in Tom and Doug's presence made it seem slightly less so."
Keep it in your pants, Cheryl.
After everyone settles in, they decide to go get something to eat at a nearby restaurant and Feminist Cheryl realizes that she "was going out to a restaurant with six men, and [she] had nothing to wear." She says something that makes no sense whatsoever-- "By necessity, out here on the trail, I felt I had to sexually neutralize the men I met by being, to the extent that was possible, one of them." What was that, condom lady?
Cheryl feels the need to tell us how amazingly beautiful she is and how all men are and have always been enchanted by her with this load of pap:
"It was a version of myself I'd first tasted way back when I was a child of eleven and I'd felt that prickly rush of power when grown men would turn their heads to look at me or whistle or say Hey pretty baby just loudly enough that I could hear."
She seems to enjoy attention from pedophiles.
"The one I'd banked on all through high school, starving myself thin, playing cute and dumb so I'd be popular and loved."
It's not 'playing dumb' if you're actually an idiot.
Doug comes to fetch her from her tent and goddamnit, "When I sat up, the condom made a crinkling sound in my back pocket," just shut the fuck up already. WE'RE AWARE OF YOUR CONDOM.
They go sit by the water with Greg and Tom and Doug gives her a present: "It was a shiny feather, about a foot long, so black it shone blue in the sun." He tells her it's "for luck" and Cheryl just about orgasms as he hands it to her because omg he touched her arm.
They start talking about that weird white stuff that falls from the sky up in the mountains and Cheryl eventually confesses that she doesn't know how to use an ice ax.
The next morning, Greg attempts to give Cheryl a tutorial on how to use the ice ax and upon simply naming the parts of the ice ax-- the shaft, the spike, the head-- Cheryl acts like Cheryl.
"The shaft? The head? The spike? I tried not to crack up like an eighth grader in sex ed class, but I couldn't help myself."
Good luck trying to use your dildo in a mountain emergency, you stupid asshole.
Greg doesn't understand why she's giggling because he's a hiker and not a 12-year-old girl like Cheryl, and he tries his best to explain how to use the ice ax which was undoubtedly a waste of time because I'm sure Cheryl isn't paying attention one bit.
Cheryl then clumsily tries to fake use the ice ax on "a muddy slope" while Greg watches and tries to coach her, and because Cheryl is People's Most Beautiful Woman Alive, she says this: "Doug and Tom sat nearby pretending they weren't paying attention," and go fuck yourself.
Blah, blah, blah, Cheryl finally decides to get back to hiking, says her goodbyes and goes back to the General Store to mail her foldable saw, miniature binoculars and megawatt flash to her friend back in Portland because while she feels free to take things from the Hiker Free Box, she does not feel the need to put anything in it. The chapter ends with this because of course it does:
"As I sealed my box shut with a roll of tape Ed had loaned me, I kept having the feeling that something was missing.
"Later, as I walked the road back to the campground, I realized what it was: the fat roll of condoms.
"Every last one was gone."