It is Friday night and I’m already in the zone, stretching in preparation for tomorrow’s Shayboarder Arbor snowboard hunt, as the texts begin. Like instructed, I followed Shayboarder on Twitter and subscribed to her text updates. This feature texts you people’s Twitter thoughts the moment they post them. I hadn’t experimented with this technological tool yet, since it sounded horrific. But I am now.
I stop stretching at the sound of a text message. She’s at the Red Bull Art of Flight premiere. Easy, I think. I’ll just find her now. I’ll hug her and start snapping photos and ask for my snowboard. It’ll be amazing. I don’t really like games anyway. But then I realize, I have no idea what Shayboarder looks like. She was wearing snowboard gear and goggles and holding a snowboard in the photo I saw. And that was what I mentally prepared myself for visually. This Red Bull idea sounds far too complicated. So instead I pass out in my sweatband and wristbands with my phone resting an inch away from my head. And voila, it’s morning.
I am going to win the snowboard, I think, as I pour myself my third cup of decaf coffee. I have visions of myself posing for a photo with Shayboarder and my phone ringing moments later. It is Pat Bridges calling, in my head. He is offering me a job at Snowboarder. A really well paying job, he explains. I accept. I am walking into the Snowboarder office with a board bag carrying my new Arbor snowboard and everyone is getting out of their chairs to wave and say hello to me. My brain does a really great Pat Bridges voice, I think, then the sound of an incoming text interrupts my fantasies. It’s Shayboarder. She is just making sure we are ready. Oh I am ready, Shayboarder, I think, stretching one last time. Then cracking my knuckles, for emphasis.
I exit the house at 11:55am. I take both the trash and recycling out simultaneously. I am in the running car by 11:56am. NPR is on. And I am ready. No word from Shayboarder. I make the assumption she’ll be in the more LA-obvious West side of town and depart Echo Park heading that direction. I have also heard the Shayboarder hunt will probably involve finding her in a public park, from the previous giveaways. I try to avoid city parks since they tend to be full of homeless people and people exercising for fun, two tiers of people I fear becoming. I am sitting in traffic when the first clue arrives.
You can find me east of I 5, south of 101, west of 110 and north of 10. Get ready, GO!
I am stopped in traffic looking at maps trying to make sense of this one. I get off the freeway downtown to stare closer at the freeway maps. She’s in Pasadena or Inglewood? I’m so confused. I don’t think there is a place east of the 5, south of the 101, west of the 110 and north of the 10, says my brain and the map. I decide to give up completely at this point. Then I realize she’s downtown and simultaneously another text comes in.
@shayboarder 12:26pm Clue! Hmmm financial district? Jewelry district? Toy? Civic? Bunker? Where am I?
I’m already downtown, I have to keep going. Plus I can’t be the one who gave up on the first clue. Just think, job at Snowboarder. Twitpic of me with Shayboarder. So she is downtown in a bunker or something. A bunker in the jewelry district? A bunker in the Civic Center? I drive through the fashion district and towards the Civic Center. I deduce by now that she is probably not in a bunker and instead in Bunker Hill. I am sitting in my car, parked by the Civic Center, waiting for more, when another text comes in.
@shayboarder 12:43pm Clue! You might find me near an avenue that is “large and impressive in size, scope or extent.”
This one annoys me to the point I want to give up again. Since I hate downtown Los Angeles and as a result my knowledge of its geography is limited. And I find none of its streets nor avenues to be large and impressive is size, scope, or extent. So I continue to sit in the parked car, until a less ridiculous clue arrives. A depressing 9/11 themed This American Life has begun by now and I have decided it will be more entertaining then running around desolate and strange downtown Los Angeles. Then another text comes in. I snap off the radio. Sorry Ira Glass and 9/11, I am trying to win a snowboard.
@shayboarder 12:59pm Extra bonus photo clue from where I’m hanging out during the giveaway. http://yfrog.com/gy
I drive up to Grand where the US Bank building is, since that is clearly in the photo. I park when I can see all three buildings somewhere with an hour meter. And off I go. There is a park here. But she seems to be closer. Plus avoiding the park would be ideal. So I take the sidewalk instead towards the US Bank building. At this point, I circle the US bank building, backing up and away from it, trying to find a similar view to the photo. Then another text stops me.
@shayboarder 1:20pm Clue! High rises surround this location but I’m comfortably lounging lower than them in a spot known for live music!
This throws me off completely, since we are in downtown Los Angeles the land of nothingness. I decide to scrap the photo thing. Maybe she is moving. Maybe that photo wasn’t actually where she was? What were the rules to this game? My brain and feet hurt. And I have to pee really badly, I realize, on my walk up to the Disney Concert Hall. At this point, Brooke reminds me Shayboarder doesn’t actually know Los Angeles. So I should stop following the live music leads geographically and stick to parks. It is recommended I head to Grand Hope Park, which is past Olympic and close to a mile walk. I stop at a Quiznos to pee on the walk back down the hill.
I realize the skyline looks even more wrong than that at the Disney Concert Hall when I arrive at the creepy public park, sweating and out of breath. Obese adults ride mechanical playground animals. Homeless people lie not on comfortable grass, but on walkways, where you are forced to step over them. Women in sports bras jog in between them both. But no Shayboarder, no snowboard. I decide to head back up the hill and back towards the US Bank building and other buildings in the photo. I am fast-walking, almost-running for fear the last clue is near for half a mile or so, when it arrives.
@shayboarder 2:04pm Last clue! You can find me at watercourt at california plaza, relaxing and waiting with a 11-12 arbor formula snowboard! Hurry up to win!
Through my adrenaline and sweat, I somehow deduce this says California Pizza Kitchen. My trip to Grand Hope Park has me more than half a mile from the completely logical California Pizza Kitchen that would absolutely result in that view of those buildings, I realize, picking up the pace to basically running uphill. My shoes hurt. People are really staring now. I wave as I stumble by Quiznos for the third time, completely out of breath.
I run through the desolate food court. And around by outside seating. She is not in or at this oddly placed California Pizza Kitchen at all. I stop, defeated, ready to give up again. When I see a sign for Watercourt, a word I vaguely remembered from my California Pizza Kitchen text that never actually said Pizza or Kitchen. It is some other office building food court place across the street. I run across the street. Past more desolate stores, thinking about how confused I am as to why these places exist at all, when, there she is.
The snowboard is being handed over to two girls in actual winter hats, on top of the escalator. Shayboarder isn’t in goggles or snowboard pants. How confusing. And all three of them are hugging. This is definitely not a park, I think. My staring up at them longingly is interrupted by the sound of another text.
@shayboarder: 2:18pm Just got found! Congrats to Erica!
My heart sinks. I look up again at the three girls. They are hugging more and posing for Twitpics with Shayboarder now. Then I look down at my phone again, as the Twitpic comes through. I can’t bare to look at it. Shayboarder seems to look down at me for a second, which makes me start running back towards California Pizza Kitchen across the street, then past Quinzos for the third time. I bring it back down to walking as I head back down the hill, defeated. I should have gotten something at California Pizza Kitchen, I regret, hungry, tired and out of breath.
I stumble on to my last less exciting challenge, finding the car. I paid absolutely no attention to this detail while excitedly parking. After only a few incorrect turns, I arrive back at the car at 2:34pm. 2 hours and 34 minutes of Shayboarder searching and 30 some odd minutes past the meter expiring. No parking ticket, which is almost like winning. Plus my car, which I had parked solely based on views of buildings matching Shayboarder’s Twitpic, was .2 miles away from Shayboarder and the weird desolate mall across the street from the weird desolate mall with the California Pizza Kitchen. Which is also like almost winning.
Shayboarder was neither in a public park nor near any avenues that were impressive in size, scope or extent. Nor was she anywhere known for live music. But she was exactly where she said she was in the last text. So if you find yourself on your own Shayboarder snowboard hunt, I recommend not exerting too much effort, nor running anywhere, so you are able to read the final text carefully. And don’t hunt for Shayboarder on an empty stomach. You’ll just end up at a California Pizza Kitchen.