Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Winter Ow-lympics Part I

My kids have been wanting to learn to ski. It looks simple to them. A board or a couple of sticks, some snow, gravity, what could go wrong?

I used to ski but that was back before my weight warped my velocity and would now cause me to propel down the hill at Mach 1. Since I was never into speed skiing, I view that as a negative.

And not being people of means, I hate to start what I know cannot be supported. Lift tickets, equipment (ever changing), clothing (ever changing), food (never ending), transportation, emergency room visits. It's not a sport for the faint-of-heart or faint-of-wallet.

Nevertheless, we have had a banner year of snow here in the Sierras and I've begun to wonder if the kids shouldn't experience it at least once while they're still able to heal. If they love it then they can get three jobs to support it.

I didn't learn to ski until I was in my early twenties. And I learned about snow and skiing like I had learned everything else in my life. The hard way. My mother exposed us to some poetry and music and the occasional book, but our exposure to common sense was learned on the street. Consequently, life had a propensity for biting us in the rear-end and leaving big parts of our posteriors missing. (If you saw my rear-end now, you would avidly dispute this declaration.) When we ended up burnt, bleeding, broken, or ill we would (sometimes) have epiphanies. I watched and mimicked everything, for good and ill. It was my primary mode of learning. I wasn't a chameleon; I was Silly Putty.

Remember Silly Putty? We loved that stuff when we were kids and would flatten it out like a pancake and press it onto the colored comics in the Sunday paper. When you pulled it off, you could see an exact picture, colors and all, of what it had just touched. That's how I applied myself to everything. Why not to skiing? Seemed good to me.
I had planned to rent my equipment, watch my friend, and ski. Some benevolent soul told me that, at the least, I should take a half-day of ski school. Never one to cast off good advice as worthless, I signed up.

We were informed a rope tow would tug us up to the top of the hill. All you did was sidle up, point your skis forward, grab the rope, go. Let go when you're done. Easy. However, never having six foot tree limbs nailed on to the bottom of my shoes, I had no idea that my legs would follow them and not the other way around. When you split eagle and face plant in the snow, the rope tow stops. And you look around sheepishly as everyone huffs and shifts and waits for you to stop being a dork. (I was able to right myself but I've never been able to stop being a dork.)

Now, skiing seemed like a great idea until I got to the top of the hill and looked down. I wondered what in the world would stop me from propelling straight down the hill, crashing through the restaurant glass, and ending up splayed out like a frozen Thanksgiving turkey on someone's table? I grew petrified with the thought. I was already shaky and my muscles were sore. I had been skiing five minutes.

The instructor put us through our paces and taught us, first and foremost, how to fall. He said falling was a guarantee so learning to fall well was essential. Thank you Mr. Walking Metaphor. I learned to snowplow, traverse, lean to the left or right and plant my rear end smack into the hill to stop acceleration. I gained a little confidence and by the time the lessons were over, I was relaxing. I was ready. I was good.

No one had told me not to wear jeans in the snow, however, and I was soaked. And I had never heard you needed sunscreen in the snow. I never used sunscreen anyway. I just thought faces and bodies always burned into huge blisters, your skin rolled off like wallpaper, you moaned in cold baths, and moved on. And with any luck you turned a darker shade of pale. My face felt tight and swollen. I figured it was cold.

I met up with my girlfriend for lunch. I did my best to look cool and alluring as I walked to the food deck in Frankenstein boots that slipped out from under me on the icy stairs. My skis fell off the rack when I went to grab them and knocked down a few others for good measure. I snapped my goggles over my eyes to disguise myself, locked into my bindings, and skated and hobbled my way to the lift.

A chair lift is an interesting thing. It's supposed to keep things moving and stay in motion. I never knew it could be any different having never been on one before. I didn't know it could stop or that you could let a chair go by if you were having trouble. It completely intimidated me so I determined I would be ready. Not so my friend. She was one of those blissfully, and maddeningly, unaware people who never give a thought to how their existence in the world impacts anyone else. She frequently dawdled, put on make up at red lights, pulled her car into the fast lane and drove 30, etc. She was no different in the lift line.

She considered her skis, fixed her hair, adjusted her goggles, applied chapstick, repositioned her pole straps, unzipped and rezipped her jacket, straightened her hat, blew her nose, talked endlessly, and noticed nothing. Flirting with the guy behind us was her main objective when our chair arrived. I had been moving forward with pressure butterflies hatching in my stomach. As soon as my turn arrived I moved out quickly, got into position, and sat down. Alone. And away I went. Alone. My ditz of a girlfriend was clueless and only just managed to catch the next chair.

I jetted into the air and became weightless. It was exhilarating. It was breathtaking. I could see the tops of the trees, the next mountain range, a frozen lake. And just as suddenly, I could see my traction device and bedpan as I realized I knew how to get on the lift but was utterly clueless about how to get off. What was I supposed to do? Stand up? Jump? I yelled back to my girlfriend for instructions. We were too far apart and it was too windy to do me much good. I was on my own and scanning my brain wildly for ideas. Then it hit me.

To be continued........

Copyright 2009


  1. That's IT? You leave us hanging right in the middle of the good stuff?
    Need I remind you that I go to the dentist this afternoon and I may not survive to READ the next part?

    This is soooooo good, so hurry up and share the rest, okay? ;-)

  2. Ah, yes, I remember it well ...skiing..."Try, try, flub again," they called me. Good luck getting down :-) I'll catch you in the lodge for some hot chocolate!

  3. I've been wondering if you were crazy...I'm not wondering any more. I know that you're out of your mind!

  4. Hee hee! I used to snowboard. I never mastered the getting off the lift part--can't wait to hear how yours goes. I love looking at snow through a window. I love playing in snow. For about a 1/2 hour. I love to drive in Rovey in snow. I DO NOT like to pay obscene amounts of money to feel that I must be cold ALL DAY LONG in order to get my money's worth out of the lift ticket, not to mention the atrociously expensive gear. My hubby can teach my kids, and I will sit in the lodge with a cup of coffee and a novel. I'm slowly getting comfortable with the idea of being a party pooper. I would love to snowmobile tho. Anything with an engine, and I am THERE!

  5. Ha! This was a great looking forward to part 2!! You have a wonderful way with words, Robynn! So glad to be following you. :)

  6. Yipeeee! 103 followers!!! Good for you! Love the skiing post. It reminded me of the time my family took ski lessons together and my dad ran right over the instructer and knocked her down!

  7. Oh goodness! This is hilarious. I can TOTALLY relate to hopefully turning into a darker shade of pale :-D though for me it's just a darker shade of snow white. :-p

    And the ski lift?!?! YES! Exactly!

    I had an episode a few weeks ago, where I was coming down the hill behind dad and realized that I didn't have time to stop or turn and so I yelled "Dad, we're goin' down! We're goin' down!".....and did we ever. We ended up so tangled that i couldn't tell which legs belonged to me. We looked like squished bugs on the bottom of somebody's shoe. It was rather awkward. I'm just glad is wasn't a complete stranger. I mighta just died then and there. :-p

    Can't wait for your next episode.......*dun dun duuuuuun*

  8. Oh I remember it well. That scary feeling of what to do when the chair reaches the next piece of land. Can't wait to hear the rest, or is it read the rest??

  9. Oh, I love your writing! I can't wait for chapter two! You kinda remind me of myself and all my mis-adventures! Yours,of course, being much funnier than I thought mine are.!!

  10. Tore the ligaments in my thumb the first time I went, it's never been the same, my thumb that is. But Kevin grew up skiing. His dad once jumped off the ski lift because Kevin got off at the wrong spot! Good job Dad!

    My word is jountus. I'm sure that's what happened to my thumb!

  11. I've never snow skied, but this is exactly how I envisioned it if I had had the chance to try it. I water skied when I was way younger, but I was told that snow skiing is just the opposite of water skiing.

    Waiting anxiously for "the rest of the story"... (in honor of Paul Harvey).


  12. Hmmm.. skiing... tried it. But the reward/payoff ratio did not turn over quick enough for me ...well, the improper boots certainly did no good with my patience factor, as my feet wereFREEZING. Maybe I'll try again someday.
    Love the descriptors.

  13. Hi. I am the only person I know in Colorado who has never skiied! I have good intentions, bit never sen so make it a priority to learn! Maybe next year.

    Ready for part 2!

  14. I love reading about your ski experience, but have never felt inclined to learn myself. I love looking at the mountains, but not skiing in them! :-)

  15. LOL! Oh - this brings back all those bad memories of trying to ski... I never did get the hang of it.. and hated the chair lifts... usually ended up throwing myself off at the top...

  16. Loving this! The chairlift is a device of torture! Then again, I am not too fond of escalators either.

    This could be my first day except there is no mention of starting your period unexpectedly. ;)

  17. you can't leave us hanging like that! Btw, you're describing one of my worst nightmares. That is exactly why I have never been (and probably will never go) skiing. And I lived in Utah for 10 years! ha!

  18. Hey Miss Robynn:

    Thanks for visiting my BLOG today. Thought I'd return the Bloggy Love and headed right on over here.

    I am Laughing out loud and people I work with a wondering "what is going on over there".

    I'm the dork skier in my family. Always on the bunny slope. Always needing to dig out the wedgie caused by my last fall. Always saying "I'll meet you at the lodge" and then having to explain why I was late because it took me four hours to make it down the mountain.

    (giggle - snark) You're killing me - and I can't wait for the rest of the story.

  19. LOL! Great post...

    and thanks for sharing your friends post w/ the jars!!! totally love it and right up my alley!! thanks!

  20. I got stuck on the get off ramp also. It was my first and last time to ski. Going downhill on the really to hard hill, because I couldn't get off was terrible!