Part Twenty-Three: Chapter Eleven, Part Two: The Dialogue Goes Full Cheryl
We left off with Cheryl "Too-Oppressed-To-Be-A-Hobo" Strayed standing by the side of the road after having been refused a ride from that reporter from The Hobo Times who never existed. Apparently Cheryl is feeling sorry for herself because,
"I stood there for a while, letting cars pass without even trying to get them to give me a ride. I felt more alone than anyone in the whole wide world."
Anyone in the whole wide world? You are too self-absorbed to continue living. Please die.
She wonders where Stacy and Trina are even though she should know that they're, you know, in a car right now getting a ride because that just happened. She then forgets what she wrote four pages earlier due to being a complete fucking idiot and says, "The man who'd picked them up was only going to take them about twelve miles east," and, ummmmmm, it wasn't "a man" who picked them up. Wait, let's remember together:
"...when a couple in a Honda Civic had stopped, announcing that they only had room for two of us."
You couldn't even bullshit-check your own bullshit.
Are you for real, Cheryl? You can't remember what you wrote four pages ago? Whatever, sure. I'm over it. All I can do is roll my eyes at this point because I exhausted my capacity for exasperation while writing the last part of this review. She says that she's going to meet up with Stacy, Trina and the dog at Old Station, and pffffft.
She finally pauses her pity-party long enough to stick her thumb out and after a car approaches and keeps going, she concludes that the reason this one whole car didn't stop for her is because she's holding a can of beer (something Jimmy had given her in addition to the Hobo-Care-Package), and of course that must be the reason, because why else would someone not stop for The Great Cheryl Strayed. She can justify anything in order to protect her giant ego.
Even though she's been holding a beer in her goddamned hand for however long, BEER! occurs to her for the first time ever and she "suddenly had the urge to drink it," and I take it back, my capacity for exasperation is apparently limitless, and I really should start recording a video of myself trying to write this so you can see exactly how much time I spend rolling my eyes, slamming my face into my hands and moaning non-words through my fingers in a pathetic display of agony.
The beer was a Budweiser, and here we go:
"In fact, that Budweiser was the first whole beer I'd ever drunk in my life-- but it tasted good to me, like beer tastes, I imagine, to those who love it: cold and sharp and crisp and right."
Budweiser tastes like piss.
She drinks this beer while she explores the contents of the Hobo Care Package that she was in no way entitled to (but took anyway because she's Cheryl and she's entitled to everything):
"...a pack of peppermint gum, three individually wrapped wet wipes, a paper packet containing two aspirin, six butterscotch candies in translucent gold wrappers, a book of matches that said Thank You Steinbeck Drug, a Slim Jim sausage in its plastic vacuum world, a single cigarette in a cylindrical faux-glass case, a disposable razor, and a short, fat can of baked beans."
Cheryl immediately devours everything edible and leaves the can of baked beans for last:
"I pried it open in tiny increments with the impossible can-opening device of my Swiss army knife, and then, too lazy to rummage through my pack for a spoon, I scooped them out with the knife itself and ate them-- hobo style-- from the blade."
"I HATE YOU." -- Jaime
I hate her, too, Jaime. We all do.
Cheryl returns to the road, "feeling slightly hazy from the beer," and please stop. One can of Budweiser isn't going to make you... oh, fuck it. I just can't. But don't worry, she's chewing two pieces of the peppermint gum "to sober up," and that's not how sobering up works, but all I can do here is throw my hands up in surrender and hope that one day, Cheryl gets drunk somewhere, attempts to drive home, gets pulled over and tries to explain, "But Officer, I'm chewing gum. That means I'm fine."
After a few minutes of waiting on the side of the road, Cheryl "Automotive-Expert" Strayed tells us that an old white Maverick pulls over and-- brace yourself, this is about to go Full Cheryl in about 2.5 seconds.
Whatever, let's do this.
Whatever, let's do this.
"A woman sat in the driver's seat with a man beside her and another man and a dog in the back seat."
Apparently they're all white because Cheryl doesn't point out any of the non-whiteness going on.
They're heading the same way Cheryl wants to go, so she accepts the ride. She feels the need to point out what an unattractive, poorly-dressed lady the driver is:
"She looked to be about forty. Her hair was frizzy and bleached blonde, her face puffy and pocked with old acne scars. She wore cutoffs and gold earrings in the shape of butterflies and a grayish halter top that seemed to have been made with the strings of a mop."
Cheryl always needs to be the most beautiful person present.
You know what, you stupid bitch? This lady stopped for your dumb ass, and the first thing you do is essentially call her ugly and then criticize her clothes. I HAVE NO WORDS. ALL I CAN DO IS VIOLENTLY SHAKE MY HEAD AND CONVULSE IN MY CHAIR. You selfish, selfish, asshole. I hope you get one of those flesh-eating parasites and die a slow, agonizing death.
Ugly Lady helps Cheryl get her pack into the trunk and makes a big deal out of how heavy it is because Cheryl needs to remind us of this in case we've forgotten. She climbs into the back seat of the car with the dog and "the man," and then we have to deal with this:
"The man was lean and about the same age as the woman, his dark hair woven into a thin braid. He wore a black leather vest without a shirt underneath and a red bandana tied biker-style over the top of his head."
Uh-oh, Cheryl has heard of bikers before and she's gonna make the dialogue go the way she thinks bikers talk, never mind that NO ONE IS A BIKER AND EVERYONE IS CLEARLY RIDING IN A CAR.
Cheryl struggles to find a seatbelt, takes a super-judgmental inventory of "the man's" tattoos and when she gives up trying to locate her seatbelt, the dog comes over and licks her knee.
"'That dog's got some motherfucking good taste in women,' said the man."
The man tells her that the dog's name is Stevie Ray, his name is Spider, the ugly woman's name is Louise-- but goes by Lou-- and the man in the front seat is Spider's brother, Dave.
Spider asks if Cheryl has a name and Cheryl is feeling apprehensive. She introduces herself:
"'Oh yeah-- sorry. I'm Cheryl.' I smiled, though I felt a blurry uncertainty about having accepted this particular ride. There was nothing to do about it now. We were already on our way, the hot wind blowing my hair. I petted Stevie Ray while assessing Spider in my peripheral vision. 'Thanks for picking me up,' I said to conceal my unease."
Oh, get over it. You're about 0.5 seconds away from banging Spider, just stop.
Spider repeatedly says one version or another of the word "motherfucker" in ways that make no sense whatsoever because apparently that's how bikers talk, and he finally asks what Cheryl was doing out there on the road. Cheryl explains "about the trail and the record snowpack" and blah, blah, blah, and then Spider decides to tell this story and no he doesn't, but sure he does because he doesn't really exist.
"'I've got a story for you, Cheryl. I think it's along the lines of what you're talking about. I was reading about animals a while back and there was this motherfucking scientist in France back in the thirties or forties or whenever the motherfuck it was and he was trying to get apes to draw these pictures, to make art pictures like the kinds of pictures in serious motherfucking paintings that you see in museums and shit. So the scientist keeps showing the apes these paintings and giving them charcoal pencils to draw with and then one day one of the apes finally draws something but it's not the art pictures that it draws. What it draws is the bars of its own motherfucking cage. Its own motherfucking cage! Man, that's the truth, ain't it? I can relate to that and I bet you can too, sister."
Maybe I'm a big asshole for saying this, but I doubt a man named "Spider" who uses "motherfucking" as an adjective as liberally as he does is secretly a big scientific research fanatic who would recount this fascinating tale, never mind that none of what he has just said has anything to do with what Cheryl just told them all about hiking the PCT. This story sounds like something Cheryl half-way paid attention to in one of her college classes and wanted to bring it up really badly to illustrate her own feeling of being imprisoned in life but didn't quite know how to go about doing it, so she made imaginary Spider say it. Crazy, I know. How dare I.
Bllllaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh, Lou tells Cheryl that she and Dave are going to get married in a week and that's when this happens:
"'You wanna marry me, sweetheart?' Spider asked me, momentarily grazing my bare thigh with the back of his hand, his turquoise ring hard against me."
Cheryl responds the way you'd think:
"The place on my leg where Spider had touched me seemed to pulse. I wished he'd do it again, though I knew that was ludicrous."
My head is smothered in my hands at this point and I am tearlessly sobbing and wishing this would stop.
Lou tells Cheryl a very sad story about how her eight-year-old son had died when he was hit by a truck, and of course Spider chimes in to say, "He was a tough little motherfucker," because that's touching. Since Cheryl can't have the attention away from herself for more than a paragraph, Lou tells Cheryl that's she so pretty, and then sadly says that all she has going for herself is that she's good-hearted, and that's when big asshole Cheryl almost transforms into a decent human being-- ALMOST:
"'That's not true,' I said. 'I think you're pretty.'
"'You do?' she asked.
"'Yeah,' I said, though pretty wasn't precisely how I would have described her."
YOU ARE SUCH AN ASSHOLE.
I can't even finish this chapter today, and there are only three pages left. Yeah. I'm done.