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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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A Bum Skier

The missus informed me today that we’re going skiing soon.

She’ll often let me in on these little things, in sort of an ‘oh-by-the-way’ manner, to try to lessen the impact they’ll have on my psyche. Usually, she’ll wait as long as possible, to also give me less time to grouse or worry. Or bother her with any objections.

So I’ll get a ‘Just to let you know, it’s time to give the dog a bath this weekend‘ or ‘Hey, I almost forgot, we have a big formal-dress party for work on Friday night‘ or ‘Oh, by the way, we’re getting his-and-hers root canals tomorrow; don’t forget to floss.

In a way, I appreciate her efforts. I’m not sure how I’d function with some unspeakable horror hanging over my head for weeks, like some wet-furred suit-and-tied deep-drilling sword of Damocles. On the other hand, now I get nervous every time my wife opens her mouth. Is she going to coo sweet nothings, or tell me I’ve got a colonoscopy scheduled? Are we going to chat about our days, or about how I’m driving to Rhode Island in the morning to pick someone up at the airport? Is she asking what I want for dinner, or did she sign me up in the Marines and I’m shipping out to Fallujah in ten minutes?

“I’ve got no balance. My feet are slow. And I tend to be more, rather than less, awkward when you strap five-foot-long slats of wood to me.”

Maybe we should just stop talking altogether. Like a normal married couple.

Meanwhile, I deal with the occasional bombshell, including this upcoming ski trip. As these things go, it’s certainly not the most unpleasant news she’s ever laid on me. And we’re going with a nice couple we know, so it should be a good time. There’s just one teensy little thing.

I don’t ski.

I mean, I have skied. Sort of. If you call inching down the bunny run with the four year olds ‘skiing’. Which I do, because that’s just about the pinnacle of my snowsport career. A slow motion slalom down a three-percent grade that was ninety percent pizza slice and ten percent French fries. Because I didn’t want to have a bad time.

The problem came when I ‘graduated’ to an actual ski run, one of those where you actually take a lift to get to the top. Me, I’m really more comfortable with the T-bar crowd. But seeing as how all of them in the ski class that day were under the age of five, I started to look a little creepy hanging out with a bunch of small children. I think some of the parents expected me to try to lure the kids away with tales of Sno-Cones in the back of my van.

(Which is ludicrous, of course. If I had Sno-Cones, and a nice warm van to sit in, do you think I’d be freezing my testcicles out there falling down every ten minutes in the snow and getting giggled at by a gaggle of frozen-snot-nosed ski brats? You’re out of your fricking top hat, there, Frosty.)

Actually, I remember doing okay on the top part of the run. It still wasn’t too steep a grade, and I swerved a lot — I mean, a lot — to keep my speed down to a nice, manageable crawl. Slow and steady keeps your fat old ass out of a snowbank, I believe the saying goes.

But eventually, the bit of flattened-out mountain I was on dumped into a common hill used by a bunch of the other trails. Harder trails. They were, like, black diamonds and orange stars and green clovers, or something. When you’re struggling to shush on the trails that are ‘downhill’ in name only, you really don’t pay much attention to how the big-boy ski runs are rated.

Anyway, I made it just to the edge of the common trail, promptly fell where my path was dumping into the larger run, and found myself lying sideways on a diagonal downhill. They never taught us how to stand up on a diagonal. The dude teaching the class said to put your skis parallel to downhill when you fall, then push off behind you to stand up. That much I’d practiced. I practiced that until my ass was frozen and my poles were warped, whether I liked it or not. But a diagonal lie? There is no ‘parallel to downhill’. Every time I tried standing up, my skis drifted this way or that, forward or back, and I ended up on my butt again. Or my face. Once, I think I landed on my pancreas. It was a nightmare out there.

Eventually, I unsnapped my skis, gathered them up, and walked my booted ass down the rest of the mountain. And directly into the ski lodge, do not pass go but do collect a hot toddy and as many beers as you can down while your still-upright wife and friends are enjoying their time in the snow. And I haven’t been downhill skiing since.

Until now. Or ‘soon’, so I’m told. My poor ass is shivering, just at the thought.

See, there are certain things I’m just not good at. I’ve got no balance. My feet are slow. And I tend to be more, rather than less, awkward when you strap five-foot-long slats of wood to me. So I’m clearly just not cut out for skiing. And I’m okay with that. I’m not cut out for riding a unicycle or doing calculus or being a wet nurse, either, and that doesn’t keep me at night. Not in the slightest. We all have our limitations in life.

My wife understands this. She’s sympathetic to my plight, and generally agrees with the premise that some things just aren’t meant to be for some people.

(She has to agree with that. Otherwise, I’ll try to recruit her for our softball team. And she’s not having any of that.)

She is, however, quite a fine skier. Which, from time to time, trumps all that other crap, and we go skiing.

(If it seems contradictory that ‘I haven’t been downhill skiing since’ and ‘from time to time’, we ski, it’s sadly not.

The story I related above was from our last ski outing. Which was probably my fourth, or perhaps fifth. That’s how far I’ve progressed — to creep along the bunniest of bunny hills, fall down halfway, drop my skis and get shitfaced in the lodge at eleven thirty in the morning.

Oh, you laugh. But it used to be much worse. The shitfacing would start around nine. Sometimes while I was still riding the T-bar with the kiddies. And whaddaya think the parents thought of that?)

So apparently, I have another full day of dumping my buns in fresh powder upcoming, at least until I give up and start downing Irish coffees at the bar. It’s been quite a while since the last debacle, so I’m guessing I’ll only make it until ten. Ten thirty, max. The missus and our friends will probably tucker out and ski in around four or five, so I’ll have a nice long window to get really slushy and try to forget all the undignified crashing and bruised ass parts.

That’s not so bad. All I’m saying is, why not cut out the middle man and rental fees and forgo the whole ‘skiing thing’ to begin with? We live in New England. It’s fricking four degrees in May here half the time. Do we really need an excuse to sit around a fire and booze it up after breakfast? I don’t think so.

Now somebody break the news to my wife, before she sends me off to Baghdad or schedules that root canal / colonoscopy combo. I’ve had about enough of these little surprises for a while.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “A Bum Skier”

  1. Karen says:

    I also spent my last skiing adventure hoofing it down the mountain. My brother kept flying past me, spraying snow in my face, and enjoying this proof of my total lack of coordination. Delicious booze helped me (briefly) forget.

  2. Charlie says:

    Next time, I say we just get it over with up front, Karen. I plan to strap on the skis, dive face-first into a snowbank, shovel a little down my pants, toss one glove away and hit the bar.

    I’ll be in the same boat as after three hours of ‘skiing’, and I’ll save a helluva lot of time. That’s a few extra beers, too. Much better.

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