Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Time Skiing? You're Going to Love It!

An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners' names. I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought.
Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

First Time Skiing? You're Going to Love It!
By Kelley Williams

This is your first time skiing? You're going to hate it.

Sorry. I don't mean to dampen your spirits, but it's true.

Why? Because everyone's first time skiing goes something like this:

Someone who cares about you - known from this point forward as your boyfriend - says, "Skiing is so much fun! We should go on a ski trip."

You say, "Okay!" Sounds like a great idea to you. You've seen snow before - on TV. It looks so pretty and fluffy. You think, I may fall, but it will be like falling on a cloud.

As you arrive at the lodge, dressed in padded overalls on marshmallow steroids - a.k.a. a ski bib - (Hello. I'm an adult. I don't want to wear a bib. Bibs are for babies, you think. But later you will wish you were also wearing a diaper), you begin to feel nervous. You express this to your boyfriend and he replies, "It's going to be so much fun. Trust me. You'll love it!"

"But I don't know how to ski," you say. You foolishly believe that knowing how to ski is a requirement for actual skiing.

"Don't worry, it's easy. You'll love it," your boyfriend reiterates.

You say, "Okay," and stand in line to wait for boots and skis, but before you receive them you must sign your life away on a slip of paper relieving the resort of all culpability in the event of your death. (Really? You must sign this? Shouldn't it be signed by your boyfriend? Cuz I'm pretty sure once you're dead, you won't be holding anyone responsible for anything.) This provides you with much comfort and confidence as you cram your foot into a forty ton boot and stand up so your boyfriend can cut off your circulation, I mean tighten your boots.

You walk heal-toe, heal-toe through the lodge convinced everyone is snickering and staring at you for walking like such a loser. But the reality is, your terror is rising to such a level that you do not notice everyone around you is also stomping around, knees perpetually bent, looking like a cross between the Michelin Man and a Transformer about to take a dump.

You go outside and your boyfriend drops your Blades of Death, I mean skis, in the snow, which no longer resembles a fluffy cloud, but hard ice-covered concrete. He shows you how to stomp your Transformers boots into the Blades of Death to make them catch, and you cling to him for dear life as you do so. Once your skis are on and he steps away, you begin to fly down a black diamond* at break-neck speed, your life flashing before your eyes.

Okay, you're actually on a flat surface and you've moved maybe two inches. But with the wild-out-of-control feeling accompanying that small movement, it hits you, like an unexpected snowball to the face, that you have absolutely no idea how to slow down, stop, turn, etc. In other words, you have no idea what you're doing.

"I...I... Stop...turn," you sputter. "Practice...teach...learn."

"You don't need lessons," your boyfriend says. "It's easy. You're going to love it."

You are about to demand he teach you how to ski before you go any further, but something catches your eye and you, along with a horde of other apprehensive looking people accompanied by over-enthusiastic loved ones, make the unfortunate mistake of gazing up the mountain to see flailing limbs and hear horror-inducing cries as people come flying wildly out of control straight at you. They can't stop! They're going to hit me! They're going to crash right into me and break my legs in half! You turn to your boyfriend to voice your terror, but the words are stuck in your throat. He is oblivious to your impending danger, but is thankfully dragging you away to the ski lift line.

Your panic grows as you wait in line. "Are you sure this is the easy one?"

"Yes," your boyfriend replies.

"But how do you know?"

"That sign right there has a green dot and says 'beginner.'"

You look at the sign, see the green dot, see the words 'beginner' and say, "Are sure that means beginner?"

"Yes. That's what it says."

You do not believe this. You want to ask more questions, but the line begins to move, and suddenly you begin to slide. You are once again moving a thousand miles an hour, about to crash into the woman in front of you, but fortunately instinct takes over and you pizza.** It doesn't seem to matter where you've grown up - Aspen, Florida, the Equator - it is somehow innate in you, or maybe it's from that South Park episode - that when skiing, pizza is your best friend, while French fries*** can be your worst nightmare.

You manage to stop yourself in time, and your boyfriend praises you like a puppy taking its first crap on the lawn.

"See, you know how to stop," he says.

You want to argue this point, wax poetic on the sheer terror that is coursing through your veins. But then you see it - Evil On A Swivel. It is quite possibly the scariest thing you've ever seen. It's...The Ski Lift.

Your panic is no longer contained. "I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do! What do I do?" Somewhere in the distance dogs howl at the ear-splitting sound.

"You're going to stand there," your boyfriend points, "and when the chair comes around, you're going to sit down."

Stand there, sit down. Stand there, sit down. The mantra repeats in your head like a broken record. Stand there, sit down. I can do this. Stand there, sit down.

The moment of truth comes.

You and your boyfriend stand there.

Your boyfriend sits down.

And you are knocked in the side of the head. You fall to the ground and land in the mud. Why is there mud on a snow covered mountain? Everyone in the line points and laughs and calls you a failure. The good news is, you won't notice them doing this because your panic glasses blind you to everything else around you except the Evil On A Swivel and the impending Mountain of Doom. But trust me. There is much pointing, laughing and using of the word failure.

You are picked up by the Evil On A Swivel attendant - no, that's not humiliating at all - and watch your boyfriend float away into the sky.

You stand there. The Swivel swings another one of its evil spawn, I mean chairs, around, presenting it to your marshmallow padded bottom, and you manage to sit down.

Congratulations are in order here, because you are now riding the lift ALONE. And, you have absolutely no idea what to do when you get to the top. Kudos! Way to Go! Good Job!

Your boyfriend turns around in his chair. "All you have to do is stand up," he says.

"Fall down?"

He smiles. "You'll be fine."

Fine? Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha ha! Hahahahahahaha! Your maniacal laughter can be heard throughout the mountain.

You get to the top. Your boyfriend, his sister and his father are waiting for you with eager hopeful expressions.

You stand up. Hey, that was easy. Your skis are moving. They turn down the hill. They keep going. The French fries have gotten you. You are doomed.

It is no longer just your imagination that you are flying out of control at a hundred thousand miles an hour down a concrete covered death ramp.

"Fall!" you hear your boyfriend's father shout. "Fall!"

You don't know exactly what you do to make it happen, but the next thing you know, you are laying on the cold ground. Only you can't feel the cold cuz you are dead. Okay, you're not really dead, but if you knew what was about to happen over the next four hours, you'd wish you were. And so would your boyfriend and his sister.

In the flash of a crazy out of control skier, they are by your side, and they help you up.

You decide you'd rather go the rest of the way down the Mountain of Doom backwards with your Blades of Death facing uphill, even though your boyfriend insists that downhill-facing skis are better.

Yeah. Right. The last time you listened to him, you got knocked in the head by a chair and went flying like a spazzoid down the side of a mountain. Things will be done your way from here on out.

So your boyfriend stands in front of you, and you hold on to his forearms, while his sister goes behind you and braces her hands on your back.

Your boyfriend says it will be okay, gives you reassuring smiles, offers a treat, a pat on the head, and the words, "good dog, I mean girlfriend" if you make it down. You give him dirty looks, mutter every bad word you can think of, making up a few of your own, and want to smack him in the head with your skis and toss him over a cliff. But you don't do this because you know one day he is going to be your husband and this might not make the best impression on your future sister-in-law.

So the three of you tarry down the mountain like a dysfunctional caravan, but every time you move faster than point zero zero zero zero zero two miles an hour, you scream like a lunatic and make everyone stop. After thirty minutes you've moved three feet, and this is when you realize a diaper would have come in handy. You already lost control of your bladder on your way down the Mountain of Doom, and while you don't mind the dampness of your bib - you've got other things on your mind - you don't anticipate going anywhere for the next 8-10 days, and it might be nice not to pee all over yourself again.

You slide a foot.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! I'm sliding! I'm falling! Help me!"

"You're fine," your boyfriend says and grips you tighter.

You slide two feet. "I'm going to fall! I'm going to break my leg! What if I fall?!"

"If you fall, your skis will pop off. You won't break your leg."

You slide three feet. "AAAAAHHHHH! I'm going to fall and hit my head! I'll get a concussion! I'm going to die!"

"If you fall, you'll fall forward. You won't hit your head."

"Oh, really? Just like I didn't hit my head on the ski lift?"

Four hours later, the three of you are still on the mountain. Your boyfriend's father has skied by twenty times, and you wonder if it has occurred to him yet that he spent $200 for his daughter, son and his son's lunatic girlfriend to spend an entire day going down a run that should take only 30 seconds to complete, a minute if you pizza.

Finally, you get to the bottom of the Mountain of Doom and relief washes over you. You thank you boyfriend's sister profusely for her help. She is sweet and says, "No problem," but you know she is sending your boyfriend telepathic messages to ditch the lunatic.

You punch down on the back of your skis with your poles - hmm, these would make great eye gougers - and detach yourself from the Blades of Death. You throw your eye gougers to the ground, giving yourself a cookie for not making good use of them on your boyfriend, leave everything where it is for him to deal with, and declare, "I'm done!"

Your boyfriend leaves you with his mother, and before heading back up the mountain for his fun-filled, lunatic-free day of skiing - what's left of it, anyway - he promises he'll come back later and take you to the bunny slope to teach you how to ski.

Teach me how to ski? Now there's an idea. Perhaps we should have started at the bunny slope, no? Maybe get a little crazy, be a little obscene, make parents cover the eyes of their children while we engage in socially unacceptable behaviors like you teaching me how to slow down, stop, turn, and me learning how to do this.

Wait. Silly me. What am I thinking? Our way was much more fun.

Now I know some of you are probably reading this and feeling pretty good because you are a single chick, or a straight dude, or a lesbian. You are all boyfriend-less and therefore safe from the horror I have described. Right?


I have personally witnessed friends and girlfriends trick the person they claim to care about into donning a Michelin costume, cutting of their circulation with Transformer boots, strapping on Blades of Death, getting knocked out by Evil On A Swivel and taking a not-so-lovely jaunt down the Mountain of Doom, under the guise of this seemingly fun recreational activity called skiing.

Now that all of you: gals with boyfriends, single chicks, straight dudes, and lesbians, have been properly forewarned, you're wondering how to get out of the ski trip your boyfriend/friend/girlfriend has just planned for the both of you? Well, you can't. Or rather, you won't. Because your boyfriend/friend/girlfriend cares about you and you trust him/her.

So you will sign the death waiver, don the Michelin suit, have your circulation cut off, walk like you're crapping your pants, strap on the Blades of Death, allow Evil on a Swivel to humiliate you, spastically fly half-way down the Mountain of Doom, pee your pants, and spend the rest of your life, and that of said boyfriend/friend/girlfriend's life and any of his/her relatives' (unfortunate enough to get caught in your tornado of terror) lives trekking down the mountain.

Afterward, when you've changed into dry urine-free clothes, chased a few Prozac with a bottle of wine, and contemplated appropriate methods of torture for your boyfriend/friend/girlfriend, you will wish you had taken my tale to heart. But hindsight is twenty-twenty; and you've always been a gotta-find-out-for-myself kinda person; and telling you all this has been one colossal waste of time. But still, I hold out hope that you will heed just one piece of advice - it's for your benefit, I promise.

When you are flying like an out-of-control lunatic down the Mountain of Doom and you hear your boyfriend/friend/girlfriend's father shouting, "Fall! Fall!" Don't do it. Just keep going. Straight to the bottom.

Don't worry about all those people congregating there. Yes, I know half of them look terrified and attempt to get out of the way, while the other half stands still and looks overly enthusiastic. But don't let them stop you. They are there for a reason. They are your crash pad...

Or maybe they're first time skiers in the process of being convinced by their boyfriend/friend/girlfriend that they're going to just LOVE participating in a socially acceptable form of suicide...I mean skiing.


Dictionary of Ski Terms

*Black Diamond - the steepest, scariest, you-will-die hill

**Pizza - attempting to make yourself slow down by bringing the tips of your skis together in the shape of a V while applying pressure to the outside of your legs. It helps to do this while dragging your eye gougers in the snow and screaming your head off.

***French Fries - pointing your Blades of Death straight down the mountain to go as fast you possibly can because suicide is on today's To Do list.

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