A Ninja Turtle At Coachella


Comments Off on A Ninja Turtle At Coachella Humor

It was just after midnight on Sunday night, which meant it was all over. The iconic Ferris wheel was still spinning in the air, illuminating the desert with its array of bright-colored lights, but its cabins were empty.


The people, all 90,000 of them, were stretched out across the dusty festival pathway, walking away from the stages and the vendors and the three days of druggy fun they had just lived through. Everybody was exhausted and a little sad. This was the end of Coachella. Now it was back to the massive 20-acre campsite for a lousy night of sleep before returning to the real world the next morning.


So there we were, shoegazing out of the festival like a herd of sad Charlie Browns, wishing it didn’t have to end. But in the entire crowd, I imagined nobody was more miserable than me. Because while the rest of the crowd was sad it was over, I was sad because it had never begun. I had blown it. I had blown it big time and I knew it was too late to do anything about it.


I didn’t come to Coachella just for the music; I came for the adventure. I had planned on returning to LA with an arsenal of hilarious stories to feed my friends. What was I suppose to tell everyone now? Was I supposed to explain that I had made the personal discovery of realizing that when I’m surrounded by tens of thousands of people I turn into a huge introvert? A gutless one at that, who spends three days quietly navigating through the crowds, pretending to listen to the music, before heading back to sleep in my tent? How could I tell people that? My head hung in shame.


The campgrounds were practically silent upon my return. The exhausted masses were hiding away in their tents, content with the good times they had. I envied them.


And then I came upon one campsite that was still going strong. There were boys and girls conversing loudly and happily as they drank beers and enjoyed a post-Coachella party. I wanted nothing more than to join them.


But I couldn’t. Even then, when I realized I was facing a return to home with no real stories of adventure or mischief, I still couldn’t fight this deep-seated feeling of discomfort. I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me; I didn’t belong.


As I passed up this last chance of excitement, I was at the height of my despair. And that’s when an image flashed in my mind. It was the image of green and tan polyester, an orange mask, and a turtle shell. I knew what I had to do. I hightailed it back to my campsite.


“Andy, where is my ninja turtle costume?”


Andy rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he shuffled inside our tent. Andy and I had come here together, but we had very different experiences. Where I had turned into a mouse, he had turned into a lion, taking full advantage of Coachella, pushing himself at every moment to gain new experience.


“I think it’s still in the backseat of the car. Why?”


I couldn’t answer. There was no time to lose.


I grabbed the costume out of my car. I had originally brought my old Halloween outfit in hopes of wearing it during the Coachella craziness, but that was before I had lost my nerve.


But there was still time.


Two minutes later, I was zipping up the back of the costume. There was some slight discomfort, as the fabric of the polyester pulled tightly around my thighs and shoulders, as well as giving me a decent wedgie.  None of that mattered. Just having it on made me feel better than I had these last three days.


If I was feeling better when I put the costume on, then I was close to euphoric when I returned to the post-party campsite. To say I was embraced would be an understatement. I have never felt such strong love in such short amount of time. Maybe it was because it was the last night and the people wanted any excuse to celebrate, or maybe people just love seeing their childhood heroes in the flesh, but when those partiers got a load of me as a ninja turtle, they treated me like royalty. Drinks were thrown my way, laughter greeted every joke I made, people lined up to have their pictures taken with me.


That was just in the first thirty minutes. After that, the real fun started.


Now I don’t want to give myself too much credit here, but I do believe I was the one who first suggested we break away from our stationary campsite and venture into the larger abyss. Surely there were other people like us — people who weren’t ready to call it a night; people who spent way too much money on this trip and wanted to make sure it was worth every penny. Once I suggested it, everybody got on board.


Because I was a ninja turtle, god dammit, and everyone knew they were gonna be just fine as long as they were with me.


In the beginning, our mission was clear: We would travel the grounds, look out for others like us who were still out and about, and recruit them. But of course, once our numbers swelled, things got unruly.


This became obvious to me when I noticed that a pair of marching band drummers had suddenly joined our walking caravan, setting the beat for our march which, in turn, began a chant from the rest of the group.


“Ain’t no party like a Coachella party, cause a Coachella party don’t stop! What!”


At this point, part of me felt bad for those tired souls in their tents who just wanted to sleep before the drive home in the morning; but another part of me was a ninja turtle searching for personal glory during the last gasp of Coachella. Sacrifices had to be made.


And then things became even more unruly. Our group grew bored of calling out to those hiding in their campsites to come join us, and began to circle random tents, shaking them, demanding the folks inside come out and live in the moment. If we had been breaching the code of campground etiquette before, we were damn near dropping the A-bomb on it now.


Our wild rumpus went on for hours. We marched up and down the endless campground aisles, recruiting more and more people along the way.  At our peak, there were probably 150 of us, and that’s a conservative guess.


Our mecca hit a speedbump as we were just about halfway through the campgrounds. A group of white golf carts with the words Coachella Security painted on them was right in front of us, blocking our path. In these carts were men in jackets carrying megaphones.


“It is past quiet hours! You must disperse immediately and return to your tents!”


We all looked at each other. Was this the end? Should we give up while we were ahead?


“March forward!” I cried to my troops. “They can’t stop us!” The crowd cheered on in response.


You could argue that at this point the power of being a ninja turtle had officially gone to my head. But maybe you’ll be glad to learn that no violence was committed that night. We simply marched around the security carts while they protested our actions verbally, but not physically. Then they would follow us in their carts and try to stop us again by cutting off our course. This game of cat and mouse went on for hours. The cat never getting better of the mouse.


“Ain’t no party like a Coachella party, cause a Coachella party don’t stop! What!”


The last mental image I have of this night is of all of us in a giant drum circle in a dirt field past the far end of the campgrounds, dancing and laughing and drumming together as the sun began to light up the eastern horizon.


I remember staring at that lit up horizon and laughing to myself. Regardless of what the rest of Coachella had wrought, I was a ninja turtle hero to a group of strangers. I had a story.  Life was good.

Randy Walker is a humor writer in New Orleans. His favorite holiday is Halloween, and wishes it would replace all the other annual holidays. He is also an improviser and a lover of dogs.

Comments are closed.