Save Yourself for a Better Man
by Deena Dion
If youāre a
Burning Man virgin planning to go all the way to Black Rock City this summer,
you might want to read this. If I can help just one other girl from feeling as
dirty and used as I did, Iāll feel better.
a couple of my sorority sisters and some Sigma Chis from back in my Chico days
thought it would be a blast to go to this new Labor Day festival in Nevada weād
read about. I figured I had the right crew to get crazy with. Once we all went
to Cabo over spring break and almost everyone hooked up, except for Kevin,
whose taste for Bacardi and beer bong chasers ensured an early crash-and-burn.
The rest of us were all at least semi-pro in the partying division, and I saw
some freaky stuff at a Grateful Dead show once, but nothing prepared me for
main thing about Burning Man is that youāre supposed to do these wacky ćtheme
camps.ä We were totally into it and had this cool idea to do a Hawaiian one
where we all wore super loud shirts and leis. Kristi even brought some zinc
oxide for our noses.
there late on Friday night, and the problems started right away. First off,
they wouldnāt let us drive around to find a spot to park and camp. How about
hiking around in the dark and setting up a new tent for the first time? No
thanks. It was almost 11:00 anyway, so we just crashed in our Cherokees. The
next day I awoke to a virtual hell on Earth. The temperature was like 150
degrees, the monotony of which was broken up by the occasional blinding dust
storm. When we did leave the shelter of our Jeeps, en route to the gnarliest
bathrooms this side of Trainspotting, we got the full Burning Man experience:
nudists, druggies, and artists, all trying so hard to be different that they
all seemed the same. One dusty Day-Glo hippie blended into the next. Some of
these wannabe Picassos should spend a little less time in the studio and a
little more time in the gym. I mean, I work hard to look as good as I do, but
these people donāt seem to have any self respect, much less shame. They should
realize not everyone wants to see their wrinkly, wagging willie, even if it is
painted red with plastic google-eyes glued on each side. Thereās a reason
theyāre called privates.
At last the
sun began to go down, so we were finally able to start setting up our camp. We
had brought tiki torches for ambience, and no sooner had we lit them than this
rent-a-ranger came up and told us they werenāt permitted, nor was the campfire
the guys were making. His reasoning was that fires leave marks on the ground.
Duh. Why I can have a huge bonfire on a beautiful beach in SoCal and not here
in the godforsaken desert is something he should think about. And why he didnāt
bust Camp Loser next door for burning so much weed, I donāt know. Apparently,
at this festival there is no concern for other peopleās space or property, as a
parade of freaks traipsed through our campsite at will. They were so annoying.
Within hours, my personal 12-pack stash of Bud Light was sacked by freeloaders.
I only got seven of them, and just as I was ready to break out the Cuervo for
shooters, it was time to see the big guy get burned.
we could stop and get some beers on the way, but I swear we couldnāt find a
booth anywhere. What kind of self-respecting festival doesnāt have plenty of
grub and T-shirt stands? I could have really gone for a gyro, too. But the
supposed highlight was upon us, so we all went out to get a look at the man
before he went hasta la bye-bye.
I guess we
didnāt realize how hella far away it was. We had been walking for at least 10
minutes deep into the desert aiming for this stick figure on the horizon. You
would think that someone would have brought a boombox or something, but instead
of jamminā tunes we got incessant drumming. We were about 50 yards away (felt
like a half-mile) when the thing went up with fireworks and white-hot flames.
Iāll admit that this part was pretty cool ÷ the bonfire was even bigger than
homecoming my sophomore year. Everyone was going nuts, screaming and running
around. I felt like I had finally found a little piece of Mexico outside of
Reno, and if there had been a bar around, I wouldāve danced on it. But it
didnāt last long. Fifteen minutes later and it was back to the
separated from my friends and tried to find our campsite in the dark, with no
success. Damn that ranger and his no-tiki policy! And just my luck, I couldnāt
get a signal on my cell. So there I was, lost and alone amongst the skanky
masses. Then, like an oasis of good taste, I heard a Dave Matthews CD pumping
out of an RV. Inside were four of the coolest (and hottest) guys Iād met in
quite a while, or maybe it just seemed that way in contrast to all the geeks
and scuzzoids there. In any case, they salvaged my weekend from total
disasterdom by giving me cold Coronas and shelter from the techno music. They
even had a VCR and a tape of Austin Powers.
I found my
friends the next day; they had stayed up until two a.m. at some stupid rave
thing like three campsites over. On the ride home the weary silence was broken
by complaints of hunger, hair condition, and clean-toilet envy. In truth I
think they were all a little jealous that I was the only one who hooked up.
after all this, you still want to break your Burning Man cherry, at least now
you know ÷ Black Rock City wonāt be gentle, and it wonāt respect you in the
÷ Deena Dion has a BA in Liberal Studies from Chico State
University and works for a well-known advertising agency. She lives in the
Marina District of San Francisco. Reprinted without any permission from the SF