Was going through some old pictures yesterday that I thought were lost. I hadn’t seen them since we moved into our new digs. I came across a picture of me at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Someone captured me coming down the mountain on film, and if I do say so myself, the photographer caught a pretty rakishly appealing, chic, and graceful image coming down that ski slope. But that portrayal of me is for my brag blog, which I can’t get into at this point. (It is too long.)
This was my first time skiing in the Colorada Rockies – The plaster cast state. I had endured 2 full days of skiing at about 12,000 feet. It was a was testosterone laden decision which placed me in a class with other beer soaked individuals whose only excuse is that the altitude has killed too many of their brain cells.
I was trying to talk my good friend Mookie into accompanying me on this trip. All he did was laugh uncontrollably and when he paused for breath, he said: “You want me to put on boots so stiff that they were fashioned by the KGB as a torture device, and bind them to two slippery sticks, put two pointed poles in each hand, and then go up a mountain on a chair that is dangling from a steel cable. If you make it, you get to point those two slippery sticks down the mountain hope you can stay between the trees where there are ambulances waiting in the parking lot. Do I have this right?”
I said quietly: “Well if you are going to put it like that!”
So, there I am trying to ski at an altitude where I can scarcely operate the TV remote control or butter my bagel without gasping for breath. I am skiing with a slender, tall, athletic expert skier about my age and two youngsters of about 22. They are all in great shape. I, on the other hand, looked like my trainer was George Burns.
The ski runs are named and label with color codes so you don’t get in over your head with your skill set. The green circles are the easy ones and they have names like “Molly’s Meadow,” or “Flapjack” or “The Beach.” The intermediate runs are marked with blue squares and have names “Schoolmarm,” “Calamity Jane,” or “Snowfield.” Then the expert ski slopes are marked with black diamonds and have names like “Widowmaker,” “Psychopath,” and “Powderkeg.” I think purely by accident and inattention, I was on a black diamond run named “Bodybag.” That fact that I was even on that ski run is proof that I have the brains of an odoreater.
Let me make a confession here. My first instinct was to call in a rescue helicopter, but about then, my body must have shut off the blood supply to my brain because all of a sudden I wanted to suck all the marrow out of the bone of life and go for it. I pushed off. Gravity produced what felt like a downward lunge of semi-nuclear force, and I believe I reached warp speed in a couple of milliseconds.
About a third of the way down, I was thankful, proud, and surprised at still being upright. That was about the time that I completed a ski maneuver known as the “faceplant.” It is executed by picking out a point about ten yards downhill, having your skis, poles, cap, and gloves fly off in all directions and shoving you head face first into the snow. This maneuver results in sudden, unplanned stops.
The first to arrive at the crash site was my daughter, So-So, who has witnessed Dad “buy the farm” a number of times. In her concern for my well being, she felt for a pulse and after that came total, uncontrolled, hysterical laughter.
Nothing was broken but my pride, . . . and my spirit . . . my dignity . . . my confidence . . . my ego . . . not to mention my sparkling personality. I felt like a volunteer in a nerve gas experiment. I found my way to a green circle run and went the rest of the way down at glacier-like speed. I was sure that toxins, contusions and damaged nerve ending made up the principal components of my body.
When I got back to the condo, I lowered myself into a warm water bath all the time making squealing sounds like squirrels make when they are being treed by a herd of slathering dogs. Sounds unbefitting a grown man. I begged for someone to throw in a toaster and end it quickly.
I may want to buy some new equipment before I go again, like ski’s that have airbags. But I imagine that I have what most skiers have that keeps them coming back for more – a bad memory.