Earlier today, I came across a question on one of those old facebook surveys that we used to fill out and then post in the notes section or whatever it was called way back in the beginnings of facebook before the Russian bots and racist family members took over and ruined it all. And this question I found has awakened this memory that might as well have been Eternal Sunshine‘d out of me, but now I so vividly remember fondly that it’s today’s Camp Nano: Question of the Day. Day 26.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Once upon a time in my foolish early 20s, I had a friend named Ijah who lived way out in Sylmar, which feels really far away when you live in Studio City and have an old car that doesn’t have a/c in it. Ijah and I were in a band (I know, this is what I do, I make bands with people and then don’t learn how to actually play music) and we would practice in her garage, and by practice, I mean, Ijah playing piano and singing really loud and me writing songs and pretending I could play guitar.
Ijah wasn’t your typical, early 20s, Southern California girl. She was loud. She was brash. She ate the apple all the way through, core, seeds, stem, all of it. She drove like a maniac. She walked around naked. She once got fired from her job and still showed up the next day in uniform and clocked in and started working until they sent her home. She had bright red hair that was completely natural, it just grew from her head that way. And to top it all off, she wore these really not in style, wire-rimmed glasses. Non-ironically. And we didn’t even say that back then.
During our garage band practices, we would practice for about 15 minutes and then we’d usually end up doing other things like drink tea and have her mom read our tarot cards and then we’d go explore Sylmar on foot. Sylmar is actually where the high school scenes of Encino Man were filmed so if you want an excuse to go watch the movie again, here’s your excuse. You’re welcome. Anyway, Ijah and I would just walk around and talk about stuff, people we were crushing on, the band, I don’t even remember, actually.
I remember one day we were at the bottom of the hill that went into her neighborhood and we didn’t want to walk back the whole way, I remember it was really warm that day. An ice cream truck slowly passed us with that music playing, so we ran up to catch it and flagged it down. We bought some ice cream cones, I think mine was strawberry for some reason, and then Ijah bribed the guy to let us hop on the back of the van and take us up the hill.
Okay. You know how they won’t let you do a bunch of adult things when you’re young like, rent a car? Well, this is why. Young adults don’t make good decisions.
The ice cream dude waited for us to hop onto the bumper and grab on to these poles that were on the back of the van and then the music started and we were off. I was on the driver’s side, meaning that my dominant hand, my right hand was holding an ice cream cone while my ridiculously weak arm was trying to wrap itself around the pole and not fall. My left arm was shaking and I could feel my Chuck Taylors sliding off the metal bumper as we started climbing the hill and I kept trying to scooch my feet back closer to the van, but this was a normal sized bumper so standing sideways, one foot in front of the other was as close to scooched as I was going to get anyway.
We were probably only going 15 miles an hour, but it’s uphill. I have ice cream running down my elbow on one arm, the other one is trying to keep it together and not let us fall us, while whimsical, ice cream man, clown music is playing the theme song to my bad choices. And I’m sweating.
It was the longest 2 minutes of my life and I don’t know how I didn’t die that day, but life lessons were learned. One of them is that I am not as cool or carefree as a tardy Marty McFly, and especially when he was that werewolf and got on top of that van to surf.