Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Putting the Me in Ski
True confession: ever since I can remember, I always envied those skiing families. Shiny freaks with blindingly white teeth, veritably glowing with a smug mixture of fitness and affluence - I knew I should disdain them, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Needless to say, mine was not a skiing type of family. We did not glow.
My dad, who was both European and in possession of at least a theoretical appreciation of leisure pursuits, bought me skis at a yard sale. I had no idea how to ski, and he had no particular inclination to teach me. I did manage to go on a few ski trips in my youth, always with disastrous results. Pulverized and frostbitten (there was no waterproof clothing to go with those skis), I returned home over and over again with my tail between my legs. The actual experience of skiing went a long way towards helping me work up the disdain that I knew those shiny ski people so richly deserved.
Years went by. Snowboarding was invented, and those guys not only managed amazing triumphs over gravity - they also had awesome clothes. Needless to say, this was the snow sport for me. It had edge, attitude, style - and big pants! For my 27th birthday, my dear friend Scott bought me a learn to board package at Whitetail, and I was ecstatic! I blew off a day of med school, and we headed to the slopes. After getting geared up, we hit the snow and met up with the rest of our class - a flock of 11 year old boys who mocked us loudly and relentlessly. Why the hell weren't they in school, anyway? Of course, they had plenty to mock. Neither of us managed more than six consecutive seconds in an upright position, and the only air we caught was when we were tumbling down the mountain flailing helplessly. If there was ever an occasion for bailing, this was it.
My tail firmly back between my legs where apparently nature intended it to be, I stumped back to the lodge, ready to turn my back on the snow forever. Until Scott - the bastard - asked if I wanted to ski instead. Of COURSE I didn't want to ski - skiing is for stupid shiny people, and all my bones were already broken, thank you very much. But this is not what you say when your dear friend has bailed on his job, driven you two hours to Whitetail, and spent a load of money so you can have fun. Damn it, you have fun - even if it kills you.
This is the amazing part. Where dozens had failed before him, Scott somehow managed to succeed in getting me down the mountain upright and intact. Maybe I needed to kill the snowboarding neurons in my brain to make room for the skiing neurons to fully develop. Maybe I was just so grateful that no snotfaced tween was calling me a fat loser that I couldn't fail. All I know is that for the first time in my life, I was skiing!
When Scott moved to Maine a few years later, I lost my only real ski buddy. I had never gotten good enough to hang with real ski people (plus I still don't glow), and he was the only person who had ever made skiing fun for me - he was patient and kind no matter how slow and lame I proved to be, and never once betrayed the secret that he could ski circles around me blindfolded. So I stopped skiing, and honestly I didn't miss it.
But when the twins came along, my old awe for shiny ski families returned. Maybe we could BE a shiny ski family! I hauled poor Leslie - who it should be clear never once expressed even the vaguest interest in skiing - off to Roundtop for lessons, and he has truly been a stalwart soldier on the slopes. On Monday, J&Z made their ski debut, and contrary to any rational genetic prediction, they were AWESOME. And it turns out that despite more than ten years later, I still remember how to ski, and I was kind of awesome too - in a slow, plodding way.
So this one's dedicated to my burgeoning shiny ski family. And to Scott, who made it all possible.