Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Sunny Trails

Welcome to Sunny Trails Mobile Living Unit Lot! You’re a little discouraged when the crusty-eyed teen deadpans, “Enjoy Shitty Trails” as he saunters off lot limits, twirling something like a stubby white pencil between his purply fingers. You disregard it. Kids these days—everything sucks or blows or something like that (you then ask yourself if 26 is an acceptable age to start saying “kids these days”). You’re about to embark on an adventure!

Okay, admittedly you aren’t too thrilled about the dubious stains on the shag carpet; you really hope that’s super glue. The kitchen has a lukewarm mini-fridge and a counter conveniently patterned so guests will never tell if it’s dirty or not. You rub your finger over the surface and realize there’s no pattern—it’s just dirty. But you’re optimistic. Even more than optimistic, you’re tenacious. No matter! you think with a confident grin. I’ll spruce this old place up—get a paint job, buy some cacti, even install a nifty Clapper for the lights! This’ll be better than any of my dingy college dorms; I’ll make this the classiest mobile living unit in all of Sunny Trails!

You keep a rag on your night stand—that lopsided crate you kept from 10th grade woodshop—so you can wipe down the floor after waking up. You learn after Night One that while humans don’t usually enjoy living in trailers, hordes of mice do. You learn after Night Two that mouse crap festering for a day in the Arizona heat smells like a corpse’s morning breath. But worry not! You take solace in middle-of-nowhere Arizona’s tranquility: the undeniable calm of the desert nights, the ineffable euphony the wilderness has to offer; the sounds of scurrying cockroaches transcend to a new kind of music. Creepy music that keeps you up at night with a tennis shoe under your pillow, but music nonetheless.

Your efforts to classy up the place haven’t gone according to plan either; since you only rent the trailer, you’re not allowed to paint it that jolly yellow you had your eye on. Mini potted-cacti don’t make great decor when you’re the accident-prone resident of a dinky trailer. To make matters worse, you learn that if you buy your Clapper, you don’t eat for two months.

But you spend time out and about getting to know neighbors. Oh, boy! you think, just imagine all the fun we’ll have! All the clam bakes, the camp fires, the cheese-and-wine tastings. So you spend all of the first week learning the names of the residents—an eclectic bunch with women whose names end in “Sue” or “Mae,” and men with epithets like “Ol’ Man” and “One-eyed.” How do you address your comrades? Is Ol’ Man Flaherty really Mr. Ol’ Man Flaherty? Do the women prefer their full names, like Mary Jean Jessa Mae Lu, or something short and sweet, like MJJML? After an hour of scratching your head, you abandon the notion—it’s much easier to refer to women as “hun” and men as “bud.”

You spend all Saturday on the eVite website looking for a proper font for your block party invitations (Do trailer parks even have “blocks?” you wonder). Only when you knock on doors asking for email addresses do you learn the residents are either too crotchety to put up with those damned computers, or they pawned their laptops to afford that psychedelic lava lamp. Note to self: lava lamps add a blast-from-the-past groove to the place. So instead of eVites, you use word of mouth. You drive your 1990 Chevy to the food mart and—what do you know—it’s fresh out of clams and merlot! You ask the cashier when they’ll be in and he creases his acne-smattered forehead skeptically. You decide to make it a BYOB party.

You aren’t sure exactly where the party went wrong. Perhaps you should have bought classic dip rather than French onion? Caviar and Carpaccio instead of Cheetos and shrimp puffs? You remembered to give a good, firm handshake like your real estate mother always told you (“Avoid the ‘dead fish’”), you were polite and hospitable (“Knocked back a few too many drinks before, Mr. Foster? Well, mi bathroom es su bathroom”), and you even worked the ol’ charm like you did in college (“Why did the chicken cross the road?”). But still, how could you have foreseen that trailer folk don’t actually spit on their palms before going in for a handshake? And you keep replaying that awful moment—when you reached down into a stroller to tickle some teething toddler and she bit clean through the skin of your left pinkie. Well, no matter, you think as you cover your ears with a pillow to block out scratching claws under the tile floor. I can learn from my mistakes. I’ll give brownies every weekend, cakes on every anniversary, and a cup to sugar to anyone who needs! I’ll be the best damned neighbor ever!

You realize it’s hard to be a good neighbor when your comrades keep on the move. At least once a week, someone picks up and leaves; in turn, someone else drops in. Joe, your first neighbor, leaves a few hours after you settle; you’re partially convinced it’s your fault he left. After him is a character named Mungus, who collects pizza boxes; whenever you order in, you have to beat him to the pizza guy. Third is a middle-aged woman whose skin would make a lovely leather handbag, and whose cigarette-fires keep the fire department busy. But by far, your favorite is Pippy, a former stripper-turned-second-grade-teacher. She stays for only a few weeks, but is one of the warmest women you’ve ever met; whenever you have your doubts, she always convinces you not to leave for your parents’ house back east. She also gives great advice, like to always be yourself, treat others the way you wish to be treated, and remember to wash your undies as often as you can. “That way, you won’t get a nasty rash,” she says as she gestures to her inner thigh.

When she leaves, it’s emotional for you; she was the first newcomer who never hocked a loogie in your face. You hug her goodbye. “Aw, sugar, I’m gonna miss you,” she croons. She gives a firm butt-squeeze before departing, her trailer, decked out in Christmas lights, rumbling all the way. Already, another man has shaken hands with the lot supervisor and is ready to move in right now; he’s holding copies of The Book of Mormon, and the gleam in his eye says “Have I got the religion for you!” You’re not sure what’s worse: getting loogied or finding religion.

Congratulations! Today is your one month anniversary of living in Sunny Trails! A weathered half-smile replaces your confident grin, but you’re still standing, having resisted vermin, party fiascos, and Mormonism; you’ve found your niche at last. You spend your mornings wiping down the bedroom and kitchen floors, occasionally fishing mice out of the toilet, and watering the little vegetable box behind your trailer (the produce at the food mart resembles toe jam). You use your afternoons to help out the locals. Sometimes Mr. Ol’ Man Flaherty needs to grab the TV remote from under his couch, or Lil’ Susie needs the head of her doll pinned on again. The evenings you use for your own pleasure. Just out back there’s a plastic kiddie pool that you soak your feet in, and you look online or in the papers for a job (local stripper and second grade teacher are both available, but you’re not neither interested nor qualified). Some nights, you kick back with a beer (the food mart never got that bottle of merlot you wanted) and write to Pippy to see how she’s doing, or fantasize about the day you have the dough for that lava lamp or the Clapper.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback