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........