This is one of my favorite stories Shaun told me while talking with him for my B/R Mag story that just dropped. (Go check that out, please!) For a little while, this was the lead to that story, but felt too random, and it felt out of place at this length elsewhere in the story, so we cut it for the sake of keeping the story flowing.
Loved it, though:
At his beach house on Birdview Lane in Malibu’s Point Dune neighborhood, Shaun White and a few friends are hanging out: Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel, who is his girlfriend, and the folks from the band The Flaming Lips, and Miley Cyrus, among others. Miley is rocking out on Shaun’s Steinway grand piano, covering this song and that. Everyone else sings along, one big happy karaoke.
The sun starts to set, so Shaun scrambles around, gathering chairs and special blankets he keeps for just such occasions. He takes them to a stretch of grass outside near the edge of a cliff—his backyard stops there, and looks over the ocean. Everyone settles in and watches the sun fall behind the calm sea as it reflects the sky’s shifting splashes of color, all pink and red and orange.
Night falls. Shaun builds a fire and brings out marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars, and passes out unfurled coat hangers.
A surprise guest arrives: Mike Will, the hip-hop producer of such hit singles as Kendrick’s “Humble,” Beyonce’s “Formation,” Rihanna’s “Pour It Up,” and Miley’s “We Can’t Stop.
Miley invited him, apparently. He and his entourage walk through the backdoor to join them on the cliff.
“Hey!” Shaun shouts. He cheerfully waves a coat hanger bearing a marshmallow aflame. “You guys want some sh’mores?”
“No doubt,” Mike Will replies, nodding. “Hell yeah, I want a s’more.”
Shaun told me that his favorite thing about that wasn’t that he was hanging out with all these famous people or that they were all getting so crazy. It was the opposite.
“I’m sure people would picture it as, they were doing this, and so-and-so was wasted,” he said. “But no, we were all roasting marshmallows at fireside.”
That was his favorite thing in general about the summer of 2015—which, if you’ve read the story, you know is when he suddenly found himself with all this free time he never had, and realized how lonely he truly was. So he started inviting everyone over.
“It was all about just moments like that, to just hang and have people over,” he said. “I’m never even home to have people over and enjoy it all. That was really fun.”
And that scene with the s’mores sticks out a little extra in his memory because of the people who were there—these famous, ridiculous people—and that they were all doing this delightfully ordinary thing.
“Like, it just felt common,” Shaun said. “It was super funny. I was like this is ridiculous. You know what I mean? You forget, Mike WiLL’s just a dude that’s probably like, I haven’t had a s’more in forever.”
Deeper than the surreal nature of the moment, Shaun also loved how it highlighted a simple fact: “In the end, they’re just people,” he said. “You forget that, like, Miley’s a really talented musician, and that she can just sit and riff on the piano.”