i am a city girl. this is not news to anyone that knows me or has spent two to five minutes with me. even if i try to pretend to be a country girl, my bangs, aversion to all bugs and need to have a purse and hair straightener with me at all times will give me away. however, the city can even get to a person like me–esp. baltimore and esp. when it’s suddenly nice out–and make you pine for fresh air.
by “pining” i guess i actually mean “get stupid.” case in point: monday morning. we were in pee-ay for a long weekend, and i was demented enough in my imminent need for “fresh country air” to decide that yes, i would ask holly’s 6’5″ brother-in-law if i could ride his quad, you know, by myself around a wooded path thru his huge-o property.
“are you sure you don’t want to ride with me first so i can show you the path?” holly asked.
“no,” i told her, suddenly feeling very independent even tho i didn’t know, oh, how to start the thing or where the gas or break was. “i want to go by myself. we’ve gone on the path before together.”
once. like five years ago. like i said: demented.
“o-kaaay,” she said slowly, sounding concerned but ultimately–surprisingly–resigned to my sudden bout of strong country will.
then shawn, the aforementioned huge country brother-in-law, started the thing for me (the “thing” is a quad, also known as a “four-wheeler” or an “atv,” i.e. all terrain vehicle) and showed me where the gas and break were. that is, after i managed to climb up on the damn seat b/c it’s made for a 6’5″ man. but these are details.
“be careful,” he said. “the gas is…”
then i zoomed off into the country distance. his last word must’ve been “sensitive” b/c hot damn, i was really flying.
wooohooo! i thought in my mind, as holly’s four and two-year-old nephews peered wide-eyed at me from the bottom of the yard. if this episode was a movie or cartoon, one of them would have dropped his sippy cup. while they couldn’t put words to it, i see now that i think they sensed danger. they must’ve known that a girl like me shouldn’t be riding a quad by herself in western pee-ay. or anywhere for that matter. they knew this and yet, they couldn’t tell me.
i went around and around this big horseshoe-shaped clearing. i knew it wasn’t the trail but it was fun. then i saw shawn running up the hill.
“that’s my neighbor’s yard!” he shouted over the booming, smelly exhaust. “trail’s over there!” he pointed.
oh the crazy old lady neighbor. the one you were talking about inside about 10 minutes ago. that’s watching me drag an atv thru her perfectly manicured horseshoe-shaped yard. oops.
“k! sorry! thanks!” i yelled as i entered the path.
i zoomed past tall grass and trees and flowers. the air smelled great. this was really what i needed. then i passed a big powerline shawn had mentioned. i was on the right track. until, that is, i got to a spot where it looked like there were two paths. and both of them went straight into the woods. ummmm….
i entered one and immediately panicked b/c it suddenly didn’t feel like a path anymore. it felt like…the woods. i stopped and decided maybe i would turn around and go back. except for i was stuck in between trees and couldn’t turn around. i twisted the handlebars around in a sad attempt to do a 180 and stopped midway b/c i was about to get my eyeballs poked out by branches and, you know, hit a tree.
this was bad and i was starting to panic.
i sat there with the motor running (b/c if i turned it off i was sure i wouldn’t get it started again) and looked down for a gearshift. this thing has got to have a reverse or something, i thought. yeah, this from the girl who learned how to drive on a highway, like, two years ago. that’s just learning how to parallel park. that mixes up her windshield wipers with her blinker. yeah. me.
so i find shift-type thing and move it back to the letter R and try backing up but it seems like i’m in neutral b/c i’m not moving. i play around with it some more and finally go backwards a little. then i can’t go forward. i’m stuck between trees and there are branches that are obviously going to scratch my retinas and i’m going to asphyxiate from the diesel or gas fumes coming out of this machine and i’m going to collapse. right here in the woods.
i sat there for what felt like a really long time deciding what to do. i felt holly worrying about me. why did i think i could drive around an atv in the woods w/out holly? i wondered, panic-stricken, mad at myself for my unusually rash behavior. what was i thinking? i am usually so level-headed. oh my gosh i think i just heard a bear. i’m going to die out here. a quarter mile from her twin sister’s house.
“i told her not to go by herself,” i could hear holly saying, crying, when they found me hours later, half-conscious and dehydrated, mauled by a pennsylvania black bear (do those even exist? they probably do) lured by the fruity smell of my garnier fructis-flavored hair and the shiny studs on my flip-flops.
i could get off of this thing right now and walk back, i thought. just leave the motor running and go back. but who the hell knows how long it’d take me to walk back and holly’s probably already wondering where i am.
what i really wanted to do was cry. but i resisted and instead decided to do a k-turn right there in the woods between the trees. i backed up, i went forward. i got stuck in neutral. i backed up and turned and went forward and backwards and forward again until, omg, i actually did a 180 and made it out of the goshdarned woods.
i zoomed out and started back the way i came, cursing myself the whole time. fresh country air my a**. jersey girl in the woods. what a joke. i’d had had enough of the damn country. drop me off in the friggin city. i was ready for an overly complicated coffee drink and some wifi.
i came down the big hill that is shawn and heidi’s yard. the boys peered out at me. holly and shawn looked up. i would pretend nothing happened. that’s what i’d do.
i slowed down and shut the motor off next to the house.
“well?” holly said.
“i…i got stuck in the woods,” i whispered. “there was a fork in the road and i couldn’t figure out where the path was! i…got scared. i panicked. i had to do a k-turn in the woods except for i was stuck and almost scratched my retinas and,” i held my breath, trying not to cry. “i think i heard a bear.”
“you see? i told you we should have gone together. you could have gone yourself after that.”
i was very grateful to see her smiling instead of crying over my mauled, famished and dehydrated body. this relieved me and i was able to contain my emotions. she convinced me to go on a ride with her on the actual path even tho i didn’t want to anymore b/c i was sick of the country. i hopped on and put my arms around her and suddenly felt kind of excited again. until i told her not to go too fast at which point i felt like a wuss.
moral of the story: jersey girls don’t belong in the woods and they certainly don’t belong alone in the woods on quads. from here on out, it’s my rav-4 only and i’m going to pay more attention b/c i’m tired of the damn windshield wipers scaring the hell out of me every time i make a turn.