February 4, 2009

Roughin' It: Faux Fo-20

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Nature. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. My friend and fellow columnist, senior editor Katie Engelhart ’09, asked me if I thought it would be fun to go camping sometime soon. Yes! It would! But I think you should know a little something about me first, young Katie. Longwinded as I am, I am going tell you publicly and ramble on about my retardation (and how it relates to my parents messing me up) for as long as my editor will allow.
My best friend Sarah, an evolutionary ecology major at UC-Davis, has told me that I “like the idea of nature,” but the reality of it: not so much. I’ve known this girl since we were tots, when we were in Girl Scouts together. My mother dutifully put me in Girl Scouts when I was six (the brownie level), but she never quite let me get as into it as the other girls. First, she made me wear a skirt to my first “camporee”, the training one, which was incidentally held in Sarah’s backyard. After that moment of intense six-year-old ridicule, I vowed never to wear a skirt in front of any of my peers again. Secondly, she found out that my troop leader was a hardcore Mormon. My mom was concerned. I ended up leaving girl scouts about three years later to start sweatshop laboring on Bat Mitzvah training. This Mormon woman would go on to try to convert my friend Pardis (who is Persian) by inviting her to “family celebrations” — which were really attempts by Brigham Young to “save heathens.”
My dad did his part to dissuade me from enjoying the outdoors as well. He ran over my brother’s toe with his station wagon on the way back from a Boy Scouts meeting, so I always associated getting run over with scouting and adventures. Further, he encouraged my brother to regale us with tales of boy scout camping trips to Catalina Island, whereupon a young hooligan named Garrett, the first year, threw a stinkbomb into my brothers tent, and the second year, lit the tent on fire from the outside.
Regardless, at the commencement of summer 2007 (woo hoo!!!), Sarah convinced me that there would be no tents to be set aflame and no Mormons allowed! We were going camping to celebrate my return back to the Yay Area, by living amongst the aminals (sic).
In fact, our departure date was May 20, a holiday we in NorCal observe as Faux 20, or, its official name “Faux Fo Two Oh.” To celebrate, we set off for Bolinas, a beach in Marin County with close proximity to a hilly nature reserve, in Hillary’s “boat,” a minivan with no suspension. In Northern California, no matter if you’re in the Peninsula (south of San Francisco Bay) or the North Bay (the aptly named area north of San Francisco Bay), you must traverse treacherous mountains in order to arrive at the beach. Our diplomatic envoy into nature started out with some turbulence, and listening to “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground was not helping me get my sea legs in the “boat.” So we listened to “Sea Legs” by the Shins. That didn’t help either.
We got to the campsite and parked, taking out our rations and accoutrements out of the “boat.” This was the first time anyone noticed I was wearing a sundress.
“Are you retarded?” Blank stares all around.
“It’s summer?” was all I put forth. I took out my giant monogrammed L.L. Bean bag and started walking, in my sandals. Damnation! I can’t believe I’d gone and done it again. I vowed to burn my sundresses.
After several grunts and whimpers, we stopped ascending the jungle by the beach, mostly because there were fallen trees blocking our way. I took out several 40s, a roll of toilet paper, a corkscrew I stole from the house of a kid I don’t really like and plenty of bottles of Two Buck Chuck from my bag and sat down. Hillary, Kyle (who now refers to himself as Kyel … a story for another day) and Sarah started unfurling their sleeping bags. What type of apparatus were those?
“ARE YOU KIDDING? How have I known you all these years and not realized you should have been demoted to special education?” was all Sarah had to offer. I decided we should take the remaining three sleeping bags and fashion a giant sleeping bag device, and use body heat to live through the night. All for one and one for all. Hillary muttered something about having a congenital not-sharing condition and a head cold, and moved all of her belongings slightly away from the rest of us. Sarah and Kyle didn’t think of excuses fast enough, and dutifully zipped their sleeping bags together.
Over the course of the night, the overactive bladders of a number of my companions were prominently revealed by the ever decreasing size of my toilet paper. For all the shit they gave me about forgetting my sleeping bag, they sure were pleased I brought them booze and booze-related hygiene items. By the time I actually had to use the facilities (i.e. the space behind the log separating our shady meadow on the hill from the steeper and higher elevated meadows) all I had were leaves. The next day I awoke to find that I had quit Girl Scouts right before they taught them about leaves of three.
After many drunken conversations about life, how messed up illegalization of marijuana is, how sweet “music” is, gossiping about our friends and frenemies, we all passed out. I heard a lot of giggling in and out of my consciousness. But it was sort of muffled under the clattering of my teeth and the jerky shivering. The next day, I woke up down the hill from where I had been. Curious.
Defeated and hungover, I went to take a medicinal swig of my Charles Shaw white wine. Apparently five of us got drunk last night, but only four of us lived to tell. A banana slug I posthumously named Benito climbed (slugged?) into the bottle that night and drowned, or maybe got alcohol poisoning, but we couldn’t resuscitate him. It was really that, beyond all other things, that has made me too scared to venture back into nature. I can’t bear to lose another friend that I meet posthumously to death! Sarah and Hillary kept him on their porch in Davis until he dried out and putrefied.